How to extract a price from a website?
Web scraping, web harvesting, or web data extraction is a relatively new method in gathering data online. The term refers to an automated process of accessing websites to collect product data and price information.
Web scraping allows the user to create large and customised data sets at a low cost. Consequently, it has become an essential tool for online retailers looking to gain an advantage over their competitors by having visibility of their products and prices.
The process of price scraping
To scrape websites it is necessary to create a script that can access the host's website and extract the desired information. The script imitates a web user and navigates its way through a website extracting the requested information.
The usual process for scraping is:
- Identify the target website
- Collect URLs of the pages that contain the data
- Use identifiers to find the data in the HTML
- Store the data in a file for analysis
For example, a web scraper can be set up to target a website and scan a product page for product data such as product name, product prices, descriptions, discounts etc. Then produce a report of the scraped data for analysis later.
Programmes such as Python offer pre-programmed libraries. However, it is always necessary to adapt the script to the targeted marketplace or website. It is also essential to have clearly defined requirements without which assessing the data's quality will become problematic.
There are very few limits to gathering data online. It is possible to scrape Google shopping, Amazon prices, or any other eCommerce websites and report the data close to real-time. If it is on the internet, the chances are you will be able to collect that price data and be notified when it changes.
Web scraping is a relatively simple task to set up, especially for a small project with few target websites or data points. The challenge comes when you need to scrape data at scale.
Many things can block the smooth collection of data, like a change to the target website change or anti-scraping bots, which monitor scraping activity and attempt to stop or slow the scraping process. It is important to use a reliable scraping service to detect and circumnavigate these issues.
Ecommerce price scraping
For online retailer's gathering data on their competitor names, price and stock have become invaluable information in their pricing strategies. According to Deloitte data, Data-backed price management initiatives bring significant results in the short-term perspective: a 2%-7% increase in business margins and a 200-350% average growth in ROI over 12 months.
The data contributes to critical strategic business decisions and therefore needs to be robust, timely and accurate. Even a tiny drop in the accuracy of the data can have drastic consequences for a business.
Without continuous monitoring and adjustment, the scraper bots' accuracy, and the quality of the data will degrade over time. Therefore, it is necessary to allocate time to test and to remove existing, potential, and future defects within a script. Due to subtle changes in a website and online marketplaces, scrapes can also be prone to failure. Subsequently, it is necessary to include alerts and notifications for when such an event occurs.
The best way to scrape big and reliable data is through professional services such as price scrapers and price scraping services. As discussed, mistakenly acting on inaccurate data can and will have severe consequences. However, when done correctly, the rewards will be far-reaching.
Competitor price monitoring is now
With the pandemic forcing bricks and mortar stores online, eCommerce marketplaces are now as competitive as they have ever been, and price is the biggest lever to pull.
According to our consumer survey, 96% of respondents said they compared prices before buying. 79% said that comparing prices was important to them.
Price comparison sites allow consumers to find the prices of the same product easily. It is just as important that an eCommerce business knows its competitors' prices to position itself correctly. Whatever your pricing strategy, price scraping can help you find the best price. In these times, price scraping is the tool to give you a real competitive edge.