Web Scraping and Data Collection for Online Retail Shops (e-commerce)

Web scrapping which is also referred to as web data extraction or web harvesting is of utmost importance in any and every ecommerce shop that strives to succeed.  It is one of the easiest ways to monitor your market and the ecommerce industry in general.  Web scrapping in its simplest form is described as the process of collecting information from the web automatically. A web scrapper is a computer software technique that is used to extract data or information from as many websites as is needed.  This computer software program helps to stimulate people (potential clients) to explore the web by either embedding specific known browsers such as Mozilla and/ or Internet Explorer, or implementing a smaller degree of Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).

Web scrapers are best used for market research, and are called ants, web spiders, automatic indexers, web robots, bots, and more. They are computer programs used to browse the web in an automated, orderly and methodical manner, called web crawling. Most site engines use web scrapers to provide up-to-date information that will help create copies of all their web pages visited. When these are processed, search engines then proceed to index all the downloaded pages. Indexing by search engines; helps for a faster and easier search, makes gathering of certain types of information easy, and it also helps with automating regular maintenance tasks on an ecommerce shop or website.

Web scrapping is simply web automation, which stimulates human web browsing using software programs. The uses of web scraping in an ecommerce shop are; for web research, price comparisons on the internet,   web data integration, content integration or mashup, detection for website change, data and information monitoring and more. A web scrapping from an exemplary point of view is like a person visiting a website by entering its URL on the web browser and then collects information from that website. In essence,  web scraping does this same job but not by typing in a URL but by crawling (spider-like) using Algorithms which works with only scripting languages such as Python, PHP, Perl and many more.

From a competitive analysis, web scraping is very important for the success of any ecommerce shop/ website because;

It helps you automatically copy and paste thousands of data from as many WebPages as you want.

It enables you scrap data from your target website and export its contents in a variety of different formats such as   Microsoft word, PowerPoint, excel, MySQL  format, rich text format and more.

Web scraping can be used to convert contents that are not well structured into well-formatted contents. It can also be used to extract product descriptions, and online ecommerce shopping data, financial information, email addresses, news contact details and all other information online.

This computer software can also gather information or data from business directories, ecommerce websites, shopping sites, search engines, job portals and other important contents online on its own without manual assistant.

Web scraping which is also referred to as screen scraping functions hand in hand with a concept called data mining.  While web scraping allows you gather information online from a variety of websites, data mining allows you to analyze the information gotten. Data mining is describes as the practice of searching large data stores automatically for patterns. In essence, data mining allows you to learn about the data gotten. It often times is a statistical method based on complex algorithms.  Note that it does not have anything to do with gathering data or knowing how you got the data, it just analyzes information.

Another term used with web scraping, and data mining is data collection.  Data collection as the name implies is described as the process of arranging and collecting data. Data collection was created for obtaining information for record purposes, used for decision-making on vital issues and is used to pass information to other people. In the simplest form, data collection is data gathered to provide information on a specific subject.

In summary; while web scraping is the process of extracting information from targeted websites using software programs, web mining is the process of analyzing data collected, and data collection is the process of preparing and collecting data.

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