Competition in the e-commerce industry is relentless, and the sector’s growth is steep. Online sales will reach $8.1 trillion in 2026, and we are already at the point where more than 20% of world commerce is through online outlets. Not only are retail and e-commerce thriving in an increasingly digitalized world, but all other industries are pivoting to digital channels.
The competition is overwhelming in light of such huge increases, and each piece of information that can help companies fight through the saturated markets is welcomed. Because data is becoming the hottest commodity, marketers, business developers and other professionals seek crucial insights into successful competitor practices.
One of the most widely used techniques for collecting data is web scraping.
Collecting data with web scraping
Each time you visit a website, the front end shows relevant information served by the host. Unless you have an army of dependant note-takers, collecting valuable information like product pricing, categories, payment methods or others would be challenging.
Luckily, you can extrapolate enormous amounts of data by using web scraping. With this method, you can collect massive data sets from the target website, allowing you to analyze further the metrics you need. Not only web scraping tools can collect all data from destination websites. They save them as a file or spreadsheet so that you can exploit the findings.
There are numerous tools for this purpose, and none are perfect. Experienced data extractors will have to configure the scraper smartly, and there is a chance you will have mixed data sets as output. However, this method of automated retrieval of data points is fast and gets results, so it is popular among different industries.
Who uses web scraping?
Most use cases for web scraping revolve around retail and e-commerce, a fiercely competitive marketplace where each price change for an item can be the door to success or lead to failure.
One of the most common use cases is market research. Whether you are starting a new business, want to promote or expand your current enterprise, or have another agenda, getting valuable insights from the target market can help companies define their strategies backed by data. It is especially important for newcomers to a specific market, where the difference in approach and strategy can mean everything.
Everyone can go to an online shop and look at the prices. However, it is not optimal to spend the resources of your sales team to browse competitor pricing policies endlessly. Web scraping can do that for you, and you can also monitor changes related to specific time periods. If you get the pricing right, you will outperform most competitors.
You can also use insights from web scraping for lead generation. Using tools to find higher-quality cold leads on prominent websites is a great way to kick off your search. There are several other web scraping scenarios like news or financial data monitoring.
Whichever purpose for web scraping is guiding you, there are some unique challenges when attempting to collect data. Destination servers implement protection policies to detect crawlers and block such traffic. If suspicious traffic comes from one address, it can garner unwanted attention and spoil the web scraping efforts.
Using proxies to avoid blocking web scrapers
Too much suspicious traffic from one IP address can sound the alarm, and an e-commerce website or other target destination can block your IP, thus preventing web scraping. To overcome such challenges, most marketers and other professionals using web scraping combine tools for scraping with proxy servers.
Proxies give the illusion to destination websites you are coming from local legitimate IP addresses. Moreover, most quality paid proxies can change IP addresses so that the alarm on the targeted website doesn’t go off.
You can use shared datacenter proxies if you need a small-scale web scraping job. The main advantage of this type of proxy server is speed and countless IP addresses. Aside from technical advantages, shared proxies cost significantly less than residential or mobile ones. The ideal scenario for utilizing datacenter proxies is when scraping the unprotected websites. You can also use this service to access geo-restricted content. Proxyway has a great list of the best shared proxy providers for 2023, so you can consult it before deciding on the ideal solution.
Datacenter providers are not the only solution. If you need to access more robust and protected websites, consider residential proxy servers. Such solutions have IP addresses connected to Internet Service Providers in the destination country and look authentic to the host servers. However, it would be best to consider occasionally changing IP addresses.
If you want to invest even more in web scraping, mobile proxies are the most expensive and, like their residential counterparts, also have authentic IP addresses associated with mobile networks.
Using proxies will overcome access restrictions, and you can preserve privacy and have a higher level of anonymity by successfully masking or altering your IP address.
In the fiercely competitive landscape of e-commerce, where every piece of data can be a game-changer, web scraping has become an invaluable tool for gaining crucial insights. As the digital realm expands, the demand for automated data retrieval grows, providing marketers and business developers with a wealth of information to navigate saturated markets.
However, the challenges of web scraping, including potential IP blocking by destination servers, necessitate strategic solutions. Proxy servers are great tools against detection and blocking. Whether opting for the speed and affordability of shared datacenter proxies or the more authentic nature of residential and mobile proxies, leveraging proxies ensures uninterrupted web scraping, allowing businesses to unlock valuable data, stay ahead of competitors, and shape strategies rooted in real-time insights.
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