The future of retail is all about data. Thanks to new technologies such as machine learning, companies have the ability to analyze more data than ever before. The analysis of customer purchase data, historical pricing data, and other relevant data helps businesses understand their customers, optimize their prices, and much more. But how exactly do retailers get ahold of all the data they need?
What is data scraping?
How a retailer collects their data is equally important as the decisions they make based on their analyses. Investing in an advanced and capable data scraping tool is therefore key for any retailer that wishes to make the best decisions possible for their company. Data scraping is a method of data collection in which information is gathered and extracted from websites. It is usually done via a program which can take readable information on web pages such as titles or prices, which is then compiled onto a datatable or analysis program, which can be as basic as an excel sheet or alternatively be advanced market auditing platforms.
Not all data scraping tools are created equal, though. Considering that this information is used by retailers to make remarkably impactful choices regarding their business strategy, special attention should be given to determine if a web crawler is competent enough to handle a company’s needs. For example, a smaller company in a slower-paced market may only need a basic scraping tool that re-scrapes data of a few key websites every week or so. A larger enterprise in a quickly-changing market may need their web crawler to scrape data daily, and on several more competitors. Additionally, companies know that their sites are being scraped for data, and implement protective measures to try and prevent web crawlers from gathering data successfully. This means that if a scraping tool isn’t “smart” enough to bypass these obstacles, the retailer will either receive outdated data, incorrect data, or no data at all.
For retailers, scraping prices from other companies can provide important insights. Information on competitor prices, their assortment, any promotions or discounts they are offering, and other key indicators gives retailers a clear picture of their position within the market. By comparing and contrasting competitive data, a retailer can plan their own pricing strategy much more effectively, perfect their own marketing campaigns, make demand predictions or sales forecasts, and much more. Knowing how important data is for retailers, it’s clear that careful attention should be paid to how this data is being collected in the first place.
Web scraping is therefore an important aspect of the retail industry, despite also being one of the least visible aspects of retail. Crawlers and other scraping tools are the first step in one of the most important processes of modern business strategy, and plays a key role in how data is revolutionizing retail. So despite being somewhat of an underdog when it comes to the conversation of data in the retail industry, data scraping should be of utmost importance to any retailer looking into data-driven tools such as price tracking software.