Build Or Buy: Price Monitoring System For Online Retail

Eugene Kharybin, Competera Every eCommerce retailer needs to keep an eye on its competitors as long as their price changes directly affect its sales strategy. Today’s best way to work with data from competitors’ websites is a price monitoring system. The question is how the retailer gets it: by building it in-house, or buying an existing solution. In this article we’ll describe both scenarios.

Years ago, one of our first clients told us that he would rather hire a programmer and create his own monitoring system than buy any existing solution. In the end, he faced an issue: snatch grabbing product data from websites is not as easy as it sounds. This is especially true when we speak about eCommerce websites.

Below we’ve examined some roadblocks you need to be prepared for ahead of building your own price monitoring system, or buying an existing one.

Technical Online Retail Scraping Questions: Prices, Promotions and More

The majority of modern web stores built their defense with different site crawling bot types in mind. If your crawler does too many requests for a set period of time (the number of requests and time period are dependent upon the settings of every website you are trying to scrape), it will be blocked quickly by a rate-limiting tool.

The request quantity filter is not the only way web retailers keep their prices safe from competitors’ bots. Here is what Dmitriy, Head of Competera Data Delivery Team shares about his experience of creating, adjusting, and supporting 2700+ web scrapers:

There are many ways your site scraping process can be blocked and not all of them are obvious.

The first one is a captchas. They’re not so common now, but can still be found on different websites protecting themselves from spy injections.

Instead of captchas, Javascript algorithms are kind of new and a common way to protect product prices for the retailer on the web. They monitor bot activities and in the event that they found them, the following algorithm… changes prices on the website. So your crawler is doing its job and scraping data, but it’s worthless.

Avoiding of all these types of defence is not the easiest of tasks even for advanced programmers: The resources requirements for the creation of human behavioral imitating scrapers are extremely high.

Even when your IT-dept will handle all the issues above, there will be new troubles associated with the validity of the comparison tool scraped data:

  • Your price monitoring system has no abnormality alerts (in your system, or on the competitors’ side).
  • It does not provide any error control (even if there are some errors, you’ll never know what was broken and where).
  • Your bots do not compare the scraped data to the previous period (so you do not know if there are more or fewer, items on your competitor’s site today).

In the end, it’s not a question of how complicated the task of data scrapers creation really is. The main issue is that scrapper problem solving is toggling the programmers priorities. This leads to less effective processes in other retail business areas, lack of programmers time and focus.

The Data Scrapers Financial Questions

Creating a few scrapers or crawlers could be a good-enough solution for a SMB retailer who needs to monitor around a thousand SKUs from just one competitor. Alternatively, if the industry does not require regular price changes.

With that said, to make the competitor price scrapers work smoothly and correctly, you need to spend a whole lot more resources and build not only a parser but a fully functional Price Monitoring System or Price Scraping Software.

This was the main reason our clients have been returning: Before their attempt, they never considered the difficulties which they could encounter along the scraping path. Afterwards, they ditched their handmade product price comparison tools, switched to the Competera Platform and gained the full power of their IT-depts.

Therefore if your company is ready to boost other processes in the store with a permanent and sophisticated pricing solution, instead of “reinventing the wheel”. Run through a checklist to find out) to find out whether such a solution suits your business conditions and model.

Your best choice is to find a functional, powerful, yet data-based price monitoring SaaS, because it will give you a greater chance to defeat your competitors’ attacks with rules based repricing. In the meantime, this approach will add no extra complexity to your existing business processes.

You can easily find a comprehensive price intelligence solution that not only provides you with the correct, yet visualized, competition’s data. Such a price-monitoring-scraper-with-add-ons will also help you do a smart competitive assortment segmentation (ABC-, KVI-analysis), suggesting the best prices for your items according to pre-installed rules, allowing you to work together with all your team, satisfy your customers, and much more.

All you need, is some time to google it. Then compare all the price comparison tool’s options you’ll find to choose which ones will fit your business needs.

Source: Competera

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