Edge, also known as a competitive advantage, is what every online brand needs. It is the single quality that puts businesses miles ahead of their competitors.
And the one thing that gives edge continuously and unfailingly is data, specifically web scraping.
Web scraping gives any online entrepreneur access to any data on the internet.
And this data holds the potential to transform any brand and help them outperform their competitors when gathered often and analyzed properly.
Today, we will consider how web scraping works, the best advantages to a business, and three solid applications for it in any niche or industry.
What is Web Scraping?
Web scraping or data extraction uses sophisticated tools to scrape data from multiple sources at once.
The process is often automated to reduce stress and time wastage as data often needs to be collected from millions of sources per day.
The data sources range from a website to a social media page but have to be where a brand can find relevant and current data.
Then the data is harvested rapidly in an unstructured format such as HTML and then quickly converted, parsed, and stored for use.
The application that follows could be immediate or later, but it needs to be done in time to ensure the data still holds relevance at the time of application.
This way, businesses can make informed decisions and organize every aspect of their activities to help them beat the competition and win the market.
How Does Web Scraping Work?
Web scraping works in a very straightforward manner, as we have described below:
- Decide the websites from whom you wish to extract data
- Enter the URLs of the target websites into the scraper and send out the requests
- The request will be rerouted through a proxy to prevent getting blocked or banned
- Once the requests reach the target websites, the scraper will harvest the available data in an HTML format
- The proxy will return the extracted data to any available local storage system, where it is converted into a structured format before being saved.
- The process is repeated automatically until you have the amount of data needed to back a business decision.
The Advantages of Web Scraping In E-Commerce
Web scraping works automatically and offers many benefits due to this reason. Some of the best advantages of using web scraping in e-commerce include:
One of the best advantages of using web scraping for business is that it is automatic.
For an insight to hold relevance, it has to be created by combining millions of data collected from several data sources.
Doing this manually would take too much time and effort and could lead to possible burnout.
Web scraping offers a way out by automating the entire process from start to finish so that even millions and billions of data can be extracted in a few hours.
Using web scraping also offers the advantage of speed. The scraper tools used for the process can quickly forward requests, establish connections, and return results in record time.
Web scraping does in hours what would take days or weeks to achieve with manual scraping.
The data gotten through web scraping is usually of high quality, which makes the process more attractive.
It starts by interacting with data but ends with highly structured data that can be put to very good use.
The quality of data a brand uses can affect its overall growth. This is why using web scraping can help a brand grow faster and better.
Staying anonymous during many online activities is something that cannot be overemphasized.
Everything you do online can be pieced together and used to create a digital footprint that can be traced back to you or used to track you.
We see these footprints being used to launch cyber-attacks, targeted marketing, or even restrict users’ further access to certain servers.
Luckily, web scraping requires tools such as proxy bots that help keep you anonymous and safe.
A proxy is easy to use, and you can build a scraper bot very easily, especially when you use free tools like the Python lxml libraries.
You can learn how to use it by taking a quick lxml tutorial. A
n lxml tutorial should provide the basics of creating XML documents, reading existing documents, and finding specific elements.
Check this Oxylabs blog post for an introduction to the lxml tutorial.