With a large percentage of retail activities taking place online, web scraping offers massive potential for e-commerce businesses to differentiate and grow. Web data extraction can enable online retailers to optimize their strategies by tracking competitors, understanding customers’ needs, and staying on top of market trends. This post highlights a few key ways in which you can leverage publicly available data to beat your competition in the e-commerce space.
With the recent boom in the e-commerce industry, having access to the right data is the key to making your mark among competitors. There are about 7.9 million online retailers globally, of which 2.1 million operate in the US. The total e-commerce revenue in the United States amounted to 431.6 billion USD in the year 2020.
While the e-commerce opportunity is huge, the competition is also fierce, and the organizations that are data-driven stand a better chance at surviving and thriving the competition. When it comes to data, the most important data about your competitors, customers and your market exists out there on the web. And web scraping is the tool that can make this data accessible to you.
In the following sections, I will start with a brief introduction to web scraping, and then we will explore a few powerful ways both established and new e-commerce businesses can leverage web data extraction to undercut the competition.
Web scraping is a process that uses automated software for navigating websites to parse and collect useful data from a large number of web pages. The data is transformed into structured formats so it could be imported into spreadsheets or databases for human or machine consumption. The technique is useful to many industries, including e-commerce.
Let’s discuss how web scraping can be used to drive value and competitive advantage for e-commerce businesses.
Research by the e-tailing group reveals that 94% of online shoppers compare prices before purchasing a commodity. With a large number of online stores out there, products and services are no longer unique. It only makes sense to do thorough research and price your offerings correctly, so you could maximize conversions while not leaving margins on the table.
Feeding product prices regularly into a dynamic pricing software to track competitors’ prices for the same products has become a mainstay in e-commerce companies. Automated price tracking minimizes the time in comparing prices offered by other stores and optimizing your own prices based on the analyzed data.
Scraping Amazon product listings alone can make a huge difference given Amazon’s expansive product selection and broad outreach. According to a study, 74% of U.S. consumers begin their product searches on Amazon.com and use Amazon’s prices as a baseline. Not only that, shoppers turn to Amazon for product reviews and ratings to help guide their buying decisions. Hence, scraping Amazon to monitor their pricing will help you inform your own pricing as well as help you develop a more competitive marketing strategy.
Unlike brick and mortar stores where you can actually see the product before buying it, online shoppers have to rely on product details that appear on the store’s website. It goes without saying that shoppers will turn away from your site if you don’t offer rich enough content on your product listing pages.
Conventionally, product enrichment meant employing people to spend hours each day copy-pasting up-to-date product details from manufacturer sites or popular e-commerce platforms like Amazon and Walmart.
To speed up the process, an increasing number of online retailers use web scraping to extract rich content details, including images, color and size variations, descriptions, product specifications and reviews, to enrich their product listing pages. Rich product description pages not only help educate shoppers about your product’s features and benefits, leading to better conversion rates; but also helps you rank better on search engine results pages, increasing the organic search traffic to your website.
Given the large customer base, the online market is an exhaustive repository of supply and demand data. Businesses use historical and current market data to conduct predictive analysis and identify market trends. Based on the findings, you can keep your marketing strategies aligned with the dynamic preferences of your target audience.
Marketing managers regularly use web data to make important decisions that can drive attention to their brand and improve conversion rates. Improving product design, enhancing customer experience, and choosing the correct platforms for advertising campaigns are some important domains that can benefit from these datasets.
Structured data feeds acquired through web scraping can directly be fed into marketing automation tools, such as Marketo or Eloqua, to simplify and streamline everyday marketing processes.
Analyzing and improving product performance is yet another important area that can benefit from web data. By scraping product listings, retail data and customer reviews, you can assess a product’s standing in the online market. By comparing your product’s data with that of similar products offered by competitor stores, you can gather valuable insights, including the product’s value in the market, and your product’s standing among competition.
44% online shoppers start their purchasing venture by typing in a search engine. It’s further observed that more than two-third of the total clicks on search engines go to the top 5 results. These numbers directly imply the importance of improving your brand’s organic SEO strategies to bring it among the top search results on Google.
From your competitor’s position on SERP to the keywords they use to rank high in e-commerce, all the data is out there on the web. Web scraping is a valuable technique that you can employ to collect and organize all this information. Using the insights gathered from the scraped data, you can use keywords that heighten the chances of ranking high in search results.
Additionally, analyzing SEO-related data helps you optimize keyword density in your product descriptions and blog posts and discover and employ the best strategies competitors are using in the niche.
While there’s massive competition in the online marketplace, the opportunity to conduct competitor analysis and stay ahead in the game is just as huge. Besides tracking their product prices, you can also analyze their product line, categories, and ratings etc. to capitalize on their gaps and weaknesses. Through these audits, you can pinpoint the specific features, style or ideas they are trending for. You may discover that certain product bundles spike sales or certain days or timings for flash sales attract the most customers.
Competitor’s data can also give you a good overview of their marketing strategies, inventory availability, marketing spend and more. Though you may not be able to locate the exact data for their budget, you can perform analysis on their PPC spend, for instance, by scraping competitor’s data on SpyFu. By comparing what they are spending on each keyword and the number of clicks these keywords are driving, you can make intelligent decisions on which keywords to pay for and which to avoid.
Every retailer wants to know how customers perceive their products. Once you know what the customers like and dislike about your product, you can fine-tune the design, description and advertisements to match your customers’ preferences.
Scraping customer’s feedback from review sites and social media pages gives you a chance to perform extensive sentiment analysis and explore what the customers are saying about your product online. The scraped consumer reviews data can directly be used to train machine learning tools to identify emotions from text and pinpoint flaws that customers are experiencing with your product.
By detecting the tone in the customers’ opinion about your brand, you’ll be able to better understand what they’re already experiencing with you and how to improve these experiences.
Efficient data scraping requires technical know-how and presents several challenges, like dealing with anti-scraping protection employed by most websites today. Several online retailers bypass the hassle by partnering with a professional web scraping company to source all the required data for them.
CrawlNow offers web scraping services customized to your specific needs. Get in touch to speak with one of our data experts. They will be happy to provide personalized advice on how publicly available web data can be leveraged as a key differentiator for your business and what would be the most cost-effective way to put the right data into your hands.
It is a data-driven world. Sourcing and consuming external data is the necessity of many businesses. Not only that, leveraging publicly available data is the only way to survive and undercut competition for many businesses. While web scraping is the key to unlocking access to web data, there is lots of confusion, and myths, around the legality and ethics of web scraping. This article aims to address those and bring clarity to the topic. It also goes over the best practices you should follow, as well as the legal and ethical boundaries you should respect, to get the best out of web scraping while keeping it safe and legal.