How small business retailers regain their edge using web scraping

6 min read

Setting up a website and launching an online store is easy. Just about anyone can put up some items to sell online. But you will find e-commerce is an uphill battle, the longer you get into it, the tougher it is to survive. From SEO strategy to product images, everything needs to be optimized, but these aren’t far less enough to make great conversions. In fact, the biggest hurdle comes down to the items you carried in the store. In this instance, it’s all about the questions of what product to sell at which price point and how to manage new products along with inventories to prevent out-of-stock situations.

The good news is, the technology always gets tricks up its sleeve to help you gain a leg up against big competitors. In this instance, web scraping. Maybe you’ve heard of it but never got a chance to dip your toes into. Now, it is time to gear up and get ready with web data to boost your conversions!

Web scraping is the retrieval of web data from various sources into a well-structured format.

It has been first adopted in the investment field to gather disparate web information and served the purpose of decision making. As of today, it has been widely applied to many areas like fetching real estate listings, campaign monitoring, content aggregation, etc. For e-commerce owners, especially small-scale retailers, these are some potent ways that I’d like to share with you:

But before we dive into the solutions, let’s break down these hurdles and find out the root causes that hinder small business owners from growing.

#1. What is the right product to sell?

No one would ever want loads of unsold items sitting in the warehouse. You probably dropship and cut the overhead cost, but you still put up the time and effort. To prevent the risk of investing in slow-selling products, and find high in-demand products, we need to track and compare the product performance including customer reviews, pricing volatility, inventory, Google trends.

Remember, Rome was not built in one day. The whole idea of picking the right product, in fact, is about optimizing strategy. Opt-out slow-sell items and invest more on popular ones progressively.

However, there is a way that can accelerate the process and minimize your risk. To do so, we need to scour each product from different platforms and put it into a catalog sheet to analyze. Data tells everything. When your competitor just filled up his stock by adding more Fila chunky sneakers in his Shopify online store, you know what’s going to be the hit. 

Yes, I know what you think. It can’t be just sneakers, there are millions of SKUs and how are you able to scour at scale in a timely manner? This is how web scraping comes into play. It automates the collection of product information across all channels efficiently.

#2. How to deal with incomplete product information?

One key factor to determine if your business is growing is how many products that you can operate successfully with. Most small business owners would soon experience the bottleneck once the product categories and inventories reach a certain scale. Part of the reason is because the inability to manage as more products keep adding in. Ideally, manufactures or vendors should provide complete product files available to keep up via an API. However, in fact, far less of them would do that. 

Another problem comes after the inaccurate product information that could hurt your SEO ranking and user experience is the out-of-stock product. If one isn’t able to foresee such a situation and add inventories in time, it would cost the business more than just ranking but potential customers in the long run. 

However, it will be easy to concur if we can keep up with product profiles from every point of sale channel accurately and completely. 

#3. How to price your product and become competitive?

Small e-commerce business owners apparently don’t have the capital edge to compete by undercutting the prices. That’s why it’s crucial to set up an optimal price while staying competitive.

Study shows over 80% of consumers will visit various platforms to compare the prices before making any purchasing decision.

This gives rise to the prosperity of price comparison websites. They simply serve as a search engine to provide products and pricing information from various platforms to customers and allow them to get the best deals possible.

If customers can strategize their purchasing decisions, why can’t we? By tracking the prices from competitors’ online stores, or from comparison websites we can come up with a competitive pricing strategy accordingly. In doing so, we need to maintain the monitoring pace whenever your competitors change their prices.

Ideally, if we can track pricing at scale from various platforms automatically with a certain time interval, we can then turn this information into actionable insights and supply customers with the best offers available! 

#4. How to search for data insight to really understand your customers?

As the old saying goes, keep your friends close and your enemy closer. The quote is very self-explanatory without having to give a second thought. We know how important it is to keep tabs on your enemy when it comes to a real war. But it could also be applicable to your business strategy.

The sole purpose of selling products online is to drive conversions. The more conversions you make, the more profit you gain. However, the key is to understand your customers and prospects. Tracking down the reviews can help you get grips on what they think of your or competitor’s products and services, finally, poche clients from competitors’ and increase customer loyalty. That’s all come down to the same idea — keep both your clients and competitors closer!

However, the real problem is that people are not keen to leave comments or mentions on a single source. There is no such channel that can assemble all relevant reviews from various sources. Given the diasporic nature of the internet, tracking progress in a timely manner gets even more difficult to achieve. This is how web scraping makes the entire process not only convenient but also necessary. 

How to apply web scraping to your business and achieve greater conversions?

As the e-commerce business has been booming in recent years, price monitoring like e-commerce solutions that help business owners tackle these hurdles at ease is of great importance. Nevertheless, there are still not enough solutions that offer all the features. As a result, many businesses end up pouring money over software of various kinds to alleviate technology barriers. 

Octoparseas a leading web scraping company provides both off-the-shelf and custom solutions to a wide spectrum of business, ranging from big cooperation to startups. Here are the solutions we have expertise in:

1 High throughput API integration for near real-time sycroniazion. This makes the extraction process more efficient that prevents the situation of missed information due to time latency. We are here to help you stay ahead of the game!

2 Maintain information on all points of the sales channel completely and accurately. By incremental extraction, Octoparse allows building new product profiles at ease by only extracting new items. 

3 Keep track of competitor pricing effortlessly. No matter how many scraping threads you plan to implement, you can execute the scraping agents simultaneously in the cloud environment.

4 Monitor customer reviews across social media channels while promoting your products and brands. We extract comments, mentions, and tags hourly, daily, or weekly, so you can pursue a solid relationship with customers to make greater converts. 

At Octoparse, we help businesses develop scraping solutions of any level of complexity. If you run an e-commerce site and are looking for a lean way to close more sales, send us your request today!

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