People often wonder how society ever managed to modernize before the invention of technology like computers.
In a few years, retailers will be pondering a similar question: “How did retail ever survive without data scraping?”
Data is being collected faster and encompasses more aspects of business and consumer behaviour than ever.
Bots and other advanced web scraping technologies are scouring other retail websites, constantly finding out information such as what products are being sold, at what prices, how many are being sold, and much more.
Thanks to this technology, retailers are experiencing their own gold rush in regards to data, and this gold rush is changing their businesses for the better.
Let’s take a look at the three main ways web scraping is saving the retail industry.
1. Brick and Mortar Businesses
Many thought that the eCommerce retail industry would suffocate the in-store retailers which once dominated the market.
Offering cheaper products and a larger variety of goods, the eCommerce retail industry boomed at the expense of their in-store competition.
And as we saw companies like Sears, JCPenney, and Toys ‘R’ Us fall from their former glory, for a moment this looked like an accurate prediction.
But thanks to web scraping, brick and mortar businesses can find out exactly what their eCommerce competitors are up to, and can optimize their businesses to provide shoppers with an experience they can’t get online.
Using the data obtained from web scraping, in-store retail businesses can have a better understanding of how to price their products according to online prices.
By obtaining data on consumer behaviour, brick and mortar retailers have been able to find their specific niche of goods their customers are looking for, allowing them to provide the right products and the right prices for customers walking into their stores.
2. Dynamic Retail Markets
Some retail markets, particularly online, are so fast-paced and competitive that businesses have no choice but to change their prices multiple times per day in order to keep up.
Without web scraping providing product and pricing data at lightning speeds, this was near-impossible for retailers to do in a timely manner.
Additionally, before web scraping was able to provide the vast amounts of data needed to determine things like optimal prices, determining the “right” price for products was more-or-less an educated guessing game.
Web scraping software can now provide retailers with the large amounts of competitive data they need to reprice their products as often as they need to.
Information on key competitors’ products, prices, promotions and stock can be provided whenever the retailer needs it most.
Not only does this result in better sales, but it also helps maximize profit and helps retailers avoid falling into the lose-lose game of pricing wars.
3. Consumer Behavior
The benefits of web scraping for retailers don’t stop at just price crawling and products monitoring; the data web scraping provides can help business understand their own customers better as well.
The data that is scraped from competitor sites remains more-or-less the same; products, assortment, descriptions, photos, promotions, etc.
But this data can be analyzed in a myriad of ways to discover patterns about consumers that may have otherwise gone unnoticed.
And by adjusting marketing strategy according to these patterns that are uncovered, retailers can give themselves a competitive edge.
Let’s take a minor example, such as region. Scouring the internet for data as determined the myriad of products being sold by key competitors worldwide.
When the retailer organizes this data according to specific regions, such as the UK versus Finland, they may discover that their customers in the UK buy tea far more often than those in Finland, who prefer to buy coffee instead.
This can help the retailer create better promotions and discounts for these products in these specific regions.
They can offer tea at a discount in the UK with confidence that this will boost sales, while maintaining the same price for tea in Finland, knowing that this will not affect their bottom line.
Whether we are aware of it or not, the websites we visit on a daily basis are being scoured by bots hoping to gather market insights for retailers hoping to optimize their business practices both online and offline.
Web scraping is the unsung hero of this newfound boom in the retail industry in regards to big data and how data is being used to revolutionize retail.
Whether it be through saving brick and mortar businesses, helping retailers stay competitive in fast-paced markets, or understanding consumer behaviour better, we have web scraping technology to thank for the newfound opportunities the retail industry has in regards to data analysis.