Price scraping is the extraction of pricing information from the web. In most cases, e-commerce companies scrape their competitors’ pricing data and use it to create competitive pricing strategies. Other companies base their business models on scraped data. For example, price comparison websites collect public pricing information and provide it on their website for customers to find the best deals.
Scraped pricing data has many use cases. But gathering this information is not easy, and it requires special price scraping tools. In this guide, you’ll learn how price scraping works, what benefits and challenges it entails, and find a list of the best price scraping software for different skills and use cases.
How does Price Scraping Work?
To extract pricing data from a website, the price scraping software needs to have an URL of the target website. Once the URL is submitted, the software accesses the website in a similar manner that a web browser does. The scraper finds the pricing information on the website and extracts it in the preferred format. For example, it can be some sort of a spreadsheet or a CSV file.
Price scrapers work in a similar way as any other web scraping tools but focus on extracting pricing data. The main targets for scraping pricing information are e-commerce websites, so web scrapers should be capable of extracting data from various e-commerce platforms. Some of these platforms have extra anti-bot security measures in place that should be taken into consideration when scraping prices.
What are the Benefits of Price Scraping?
Pricing data is valuable for many reasons. Here are the main benefits of price scraping:
- Market trends — scraping prices enables analyzing pricing and customer behavior trends. I.e. companies can find out which products are in the highest demand at a particular time and how much consumers are willing to pay for them. This data can be included in a company's marketing strategy.
- Competitor analysis — collecting pricing information helps e-commerce businesses analyse competitors and their pricing models. It helps identify which competitors use dynamic pricing, when they offer discounts, etc. Having this information enables businesses to offer competitive prices.
- Price monitoring — companies can monitor how prices for certain products change over time or in certain seasons. This data is helpful for integrating pricing strategies and maintaining a competitive advantage over competitors. For example, monitoring competitors’ pricing in real-time can help companies integrate dynamic pricing into their business strategies.
Main Challenges of Price Scraping
Just as most good things in life, price scraping comes with various challenges. These are the main ones:
- Dynamic websites — some e-commerce websites change their structure, which means that pricing data becomes harder to acquire.
- Changing URLs — the target URL may get changed after it’s submitted to the scraper. In this case, the website becomes unreachable and a scraper cannot return any information.
- IP address bans — sending too many requests from the same IP address can get it blocked, and stop the web scraping process.
Some of these and most other challenges that occur during price scraping can be avoided by using proxies. Residential proxies shield the real IP address and rotate with every request, allowing to avoid IP blocks. Every scraper should be powered by reliable proxies because otherwise, price scraping would stop with nearly every request.
Other challenges can be tackled with the constant upkeep of the scraper. Checking URL addresses, updating the scraper, and respecting the target website’s robot.txt files are essential for maintaining a functioning price scraper.
Top 4 tools to Scrape Prices
The market is loaded with various web scraping tools with different features. Some of the tools are free, and require advanced developing skills, while others come with a monthly subscription fee and cover the entire price scraping process. Here are some of the best web scraping tools that are great for extracting prices from e-commerce websites:
Scrapy is an open-source project that many developers collaborate on. This web scraping software can be customized and extended with various plugins. It works on the main operating systems (OS) and is written in Python.
One of the best things about Scrapy is the online support. Since it’s an open-source tool and many developers use it, you can find loads of helpful information about it online. Also, this price scraping tool is free.
ParseHub offers a free web scraper that extracts various data from the web, including prices. The tool is easy to use. All you need to do is download their desktop app, open the website you wish to extract data from, and select the information you wish to collect. The tool will download the data in your preferred format. If you need to gather data from many websites, the tool can automatically do it for you.
The benefits of ParseHub are its simplicity - you don’t need to have any coding skills - and the fact that it has a free version, so you can test the tool before you commit.
Dataminer is a web browser extension compatible with Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. It allows scraping data right into a spreadsheet or a CSV file. The browser extension is free.
If you’re looking for a more advanced web scraping tool, Dataminer can offer that, too. With a paid subscription, you can use their service and extract data from various websites in just one click. The tool also comes with a number of pre-made queries that make the scraping process quicker.
Pricefy is a tool created specifically for monitoring competitor prices on e-commerce websites. It has various features, such as marketplace price monitoring that allows tracking competitor products in various countries, currencies, and marketplaces. The tool helps identify competitors’ best-selling products in different categories.
To get Pricefy to provide you with valuable data, all you need to do is provide a list of competitor URLs. This scraping tool is able to extract data from all kinds of e-commerce platforms, and they offer a free starter plan.
Price scraping is a common practice among the largest e-commerce players. Various companies collect pricing information to gain an advantage over other businesses, track various market trends, analyze customer behavior, and perform competitor analysis.
Web scraping can help build marketing strategies, make informed pricing decisions, and improve sales. However, gathering pricing information from the web comes with challenges that may significantly slow down the process. To avoid it, web scrapers should be powered by reliable proxies.
The market is saturated with various tools for extracting prices. Some tools require coding knowledge, while others cover the entire price extraction flow and only require a list of target URLs. Depending on your business and resources, you can pick a scraping tool that will help you gather the data you need quickly and return it in your preferred format for easy analysis.