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  • How Proxies Make Price Scraping Possible (And Useful)

    Anyone who knows me also knows that I love to shop online. It’s easy and affordable, but only if you know where to look. In the store, I’m tempted to buy the first thing you see on the shelf because it’s right in front of me. But online, I can spend more time researching the best products and even collecting ideas for how I could save more money by making them myself. Before I learned about cookies and other methods of data collection, I was pretty surprised to see targeted ads on pages I’d never visited before. Now that I know how and why companies can use data to figure out consumer trends, I understand why I see those ads. 

    If you’re a business trying to market your product or service to someone like me, you could probably benefit from a practice called price scraping. This is a great way to learn more about your consumers so you can better understand and engage with them, but it’s also a great way to understand your competitors, your market and your business goals. With the proper tools, you can get started improving your business model right away. In this article, we’ll talk about this scraping process, tools you can use and things to keep in mind if you use proxies to scrape pricing data. 

    Table of Contents

    Price Scraping: What is it?

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    Even though “price scraper” is a common term, it’s more accurate to think of this tool as a web scraper that specifically scrapes pricing information. So, what’s a web scraper? Simply, a web scraper is a software program, or bot, that extracts and collects data from public websites. After you input the website or websites you want to scrape, the web scraper parses through all the information on that website and only collects the data you need. After this process is complete, you can view the data on a spreadsheet and use it for your own purposes. There are many reasons why someone would want to use a web scraper. Some of the most useful reasons to scrape the web include: price comparison, product research, consumer sentiment analysis, SEO improvements and digital marketing. We’re constantly learning about new, innovative ways that our customers use web scraping in their daily and professional lives.  One of the most common ways we’ve seen web scraping used it to conduct research about product and service prices. Price scraping can help individuals find the best, cheapest services or products to buy, but it can also help businesses and organizations, too. We’ll talk more about other benefits in this article. 

    How Can You Benefit From Online Price Scraping?

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    We’ve already discussed the reasons for scraping prices from public websites and how that could benefit you, but there’s also a process to follow if you want to make the most out of your scraping projects. If you jump into scraping without a clear understanding of the problems you’re trying to solve, you’re going to end up with a bunch of data that means nothing. Data is valuable, but only if you know what that data means and how to use it.  

    Understand your competitors

      First, you want to gain a clear understanding of the businesses and individuals you’re up against. Sure, gathering information on the prices of certain competitor products can help you determine what prices you should set for your own products and services. But scraping can also help you understand your competitors’ target market and engagement platforms. There are so many things to learn about your competitors before you start collecting data about them, so make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to find out from the data you scrape.  For example, do you simply want to price your own products better by comparing pricing data? Or, do you want to understand what consumers are saying about those prices? Or maybe you want to see how prices affect certain products based on where you’re selling those products. The answers to these questions can help you better understand your competition and what they’re offering your target. Then, you can use that information to build a better model for your own organization.  

    Make the most of your data

      After you’ve determined who your competitors are and why you want to scrape data to learn from them, you can start formatting and analyzing that data in a way that makes sense for you and your organization. If scraping reveals that prices for a certain product or service are changing in your region, ask yourself why that is. Are there any upcoming holidays that could affect those prices? Did the demand for your product increase or decrease? Were the changes sudden or gradual?  Most scraping tools format your data for you in an easy-to-read excel workbook or CSV file. You’ll have to communicate this data to your team in an interesting way, so make sure you understand it before getting your people on board. Real data helps us solve real problems, but only if we know what we’re looking at and why.

    How Does Price Scraping Software Work?

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    A price scraper is a type of web scraper that scrapes eCommerce sites for pricing data. Along with the pricing data, these scrapers can also get product catalog information and more. The scraper gets this information by using bots. Basically, these scrapers deploy bots to go out and get the information quickly. When you use a web scraper, you set the parameters so it knows what information you want to scrape from websites. If you want to scrape specific websites, you can input those URLs and specify what data you’re looking for. For example, you could use an Amazon scraper to quickly compile data about the price for a new kitchen appliance. The web scraper will parse through the information on those web pages and extract the relevant data. You can choose to extract as much or as little data as you want, but keep in mind that you should only take what you need. Otherwise, you will end up with a bunch of useless data, which can slow down the scraping process. 

    Exporting the data is the final step. During this step, the scraper exports the data to the end user. Many people choose to export the file into a third-party storage system, such as Dropbox. This is a good idea if you are exporting a large amount of data. Otherwise, it will clog up your system. Plus, when you use a cloud service like Dropbox, you can access the data anywhere you go. That makes it easy to work from anywhere.

    How Do Proxies Make Price Scraping Possible?

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    Whether you are using scraping software or scraping on your own, proxies are absolutely necessary for the process. eCommerce sites guard their data as much as they can. Not all websites are open to having their data scraped because it can slow down their website speed and other functions. Websites can tell the difference between human browsing behavior and the behavior of the bots you’ll need to use for price scraping. When the same IP address accesses the site repeatedly, it becomes clear that the site is being scraped. The website then bans the IP address to stop the scraping. That means you can’t scrape data, and you can’t shop on the site. When this happens, your scraping bot needs to switch to a new proxy IP address that isn’t banned in order to continue its work.

    Some scraping software provides the proxies for you. For example: here at Blazing SEO, we have a partnership agreement with Scraping Robot so that they can use any proxies that we’re not selling to customers with their software. But some scrapers will ask you to buy the proxies for them, which you can use to run your own smaller projects.  If you want to scrape on your own, you can follow scraping best practices to make sure you’re respecting all online users when you scrape websites.

    The first step to any scraping project is checking the website’s terms of use. If the website prohibits the use of proxies on its website, you might run into proxy bans. This can also happen if you use too many proxies to scrape information at once, which makes websites think you’re a bot and not a human user. But with the right kinds of proxies, it’s possible to get around these bans and still find valuable data. A proxy will give you new IP addresses and rotate them out so your IP address will constantly change. This will put you a step ahead of the security systems. You must be smart when you choose a proxy, though. If you choose poorly, you could end up with a slow proxy that doesn’t work, or worse, with a virus or a hacked computer.

    What are the Best Price Scraping Proxies and Software?

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    To avoid any problems with scraping (or anything else that requires proxies), we recommend using dedicated rotating proxies. These proxies are dedicated to you, the customer. Since you’re going to make multiple requests for data from websites, your IP addresses are probably going to be flagged and you’ll get banned. With rotating proxies, you’ll have many proxies ready to take over when one IP address stops working, making your scraping process go smoothly.   If you limit the parallel requests that the scraper makes, you can put a few seconds in between requests so it won’t look like you are scraping the data. In addition, make sure the scraper varies its actions. If it always does the exact same thing, it won’t take long for the site to realize you are using a price scraper. On the other hand, if the actions are varied, it will look like a person accessing the site.

    Choose your rotating proxies from a company with data centers that are in your country of origin. This cuts down on the distance the proxy must travel to connect with your system, which reduces lag time. You also need to make sure the proxy is compatible with the websites that you want to access. If you want to use proxies for price scraping, you will likely be accessing tons of eCommerce sites. Before scraping data, check the proxy’s compatibility to make sure that it is compatible with those sites. Otherwise, you won’t be able to scrape the sites that you want. Since some proxies aren’t compatible with third-party software, you also want to choose a proxy provider that works with various types of software so you won’t have any compatibility issues.

    Finally, it is always a good idea to go with a proxy company that offers excellent customer support. While it is relatively easy to set everything up, each piece of software is different, so you might run into a roadblock or two along the way. Scraping companies don’t always have support teams onsite, so you are going to be much better off by going with a proxy company that offers support. That will ensure that you get the support you need when you need it.

    Final Thoughts

    If you want to find ways to reach your business goals more quickly and efficiently, scraping for pricing data is a great way to get there. Now that you know what it means to scrape the web for pricing data and how that data can benefit you, you can start using the best scraping software or proxies. Our Blazing SEO team takes pride in offering the highest-quality dedicated and semi-dedicated proxies for your scraping needs. With our proxies, you can experience the fastest loading speeds, unmetered bandwidths, best customer service and more. We’re excited for you to join the Blazing SEO team and start scraping today!

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