Adapt your marketing to COVID this Christmas with these web scraping practices

It should go without saying that COVID-19 has affected almost everyone on the planet and the economic effects are likely to last into the new year and beyond.

The data we see at Oxylabs has shown us already that business geared up for what’s likely to be the fiercest competitive season to date.

Data can be the weapon that helps businesses make it through. That’s because ethical web scraping – when done with best practices in mind – can help companies tweak their tactics for a more successful holiday season, as well as identify the needed strategy adjustments to unlock the unrealised business potential. This article will show you how.

Ethical web scraping is essential for e-commerce success

Web scraping is no longer a fringe technology. Keen business owners online and beyond are recognizing the need for external public data to refine all aspects of their operation.

Here’s just a sample of what you can do with web scraping:

  • Obtain catalog, stock and shipping information from competitor sites
  • Refine Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies
  • Extract publicly-available data from comment and review sections about products and customer experiences
  • Discover top products and categories
  • Anti-counterfeiting and brand protection
  • Obtain information on competitor discounts and promotions for specific products and/or stores

All the data extraction uses mentioned above can teach us about past business activity and what’s happening at the moment. Along with these uses are five additional web scraping practices businesses can do to refine their business strategy for future success.

1. Revisit customer avatars

For those who don’t know, customer avatars are fictional characters created by marketers to give insight into the demographic and psychographic qualities of their ideal customers.

In light of COVID and other recent events, it may be useful to revisit these avatars, step into their shoes and identify their needs. This will lead to a more effective strategy that takes into account everything that has taken place so far in 2020.

Use scraping to extract public data from forums and social media sites to learn more about the updated avatars. By developing an updated strategy according to their needs, a business can stay ahead of the curve throughout the holiday season and into the new year.

2. Stock high-quality products

The recession has resulted in a serious reduction in discretionary spending. It may seem counterintuitive to stock more expensive products, however cheap products cost more in the long run through bad ratings and wasted resources used to deal with returned goods.

Scraping data from top products, comments and reviews is a way to determine what products stand out in their category. Conversely, scraping can be used to extract data on poor quality products so a business can refine its catalog to include better quality products that are more likely to increase customer satisfaction and retention.

3. Find the top brands

Most top brands carry strong reputations that promise high quality. In accordance with the previous tip, consider stocking the best quality brands for an improved customer experience and repeat sales.

Web scraping can be used to extract publicly available data from the best-selling products along with information from comments and reviews. Insights can then be derived that provide information on the most popular brands and emerging trends for use in product selection and marketing campaigns.

4. Use dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing uses web scraping to analyze supply and demand factors to determine the most profit-maximizing price. Used mostly for e-commerce stores that list in online marketplaces, this strategy allows a business to offer the lowest price to gain sales and beat their competition.

5. Scope out the competition

Web scraping can be used to obtain important publicly available data from competitors that includes their product catalogs, category list, top-selling products, shipping policies, and more.

Insights gained from this information allows a business to do more than just keep up. It also helps create strategies for surpassing the competition through unique product and service offerings.

Get started with web scraping

Web scraping in an ethical manner uses programmed scripts to crawl public sites while extracting the desired data. Depending upon the size, scope and resources available, it can be a complex and detailed process.

Companies that wish to conduct scraping in-house inevitably run into server issues. Proxies are a solution that act as intermediaries between the party requesting the data and the host server.

The two main types of proxies are datacenter and residential proxies. The choice of either type (or both) depends on the data being extracted and the overall goals of the web scraping operation.

Some websites have very different and complex structures. Advanced proxy solutions like Oxylabs Next-Gen Residential Proxies can be leveraged for guaranteed success through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence technology.

Ready-To-Use Web Scraping Tools

Many businesses prefer to forgo the complexity of the data extraction process so they can focus on the data.

Ready-to-use data extraction solutions are an ideal choice in these cases, allowing businesses to apply resources towards obtaining insights rather than dealing with the complications and issues in the web scraping process.

Leverage the power of data for a happier holiday season and beyond

This holiday season is destined to be more competitive than ever. Tweak your marketing strategy now to account for all the changes experienced so far this year for a strong Golden Quarter finale. Ethical web scraping can help you understand the rapidly shifting e-commerce landscape for more success this holiday season and beyond.

by Julius Cerniauskas, CEO at Oxylabs

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