Collect Data

Do you own a business and want to stand out among others? Perhaps web scraping is exactly what you need. In this detailed article, we will discuss the various ways companies can use web scraping to gather information and get a competitive advantage.

I am also a business person, who has been scraping the web for several years, in one way or another, and as I came across an interesting paper titled “Applications of Web Scraping in Economics and Finance”, I felt like I should share my thoughts with you.

Web scraping helps organizations extract data from websites, which can be useful for:

  • Creating business strategies
  • Lead generation
  • Market research
  • And much more!

Keep on reading to learn why a business might use web scraping to collect data.

You won’t be disappointed.

9 Reasons Why Companies Scrape the Web for Data

1. Cost Savings

Web scraping helps in obtaining large and valuable data in a much cheaper and faster way than if one had to do it manually. As the authors of “Applications of Web Scraping in Economics and Finance” pointed out: “In contrast to proprietary data, which might not be feasible due to substantial costs, web scraping can make interesting data sources accessible to everyone.” 

The automation of the data collection process will enable companies to cut down on employment costs and stay away from expensive paid data repositories.

Examples of how web scraping can potentially cut costs:

  • Fashion retailers can collect information concerning the industry from the websites, saving time and cost that would have been incurred in visiting each site separately.
  • Pharmaceutical companies can get information from medical journals and research sites to be in a position to know the current trends without having to be subscribed to them.
  • The market research firms can gather information from different sources and offer more services to the clients by using web scraping at a lesser cost than any other approach.

2. Competitive Edge

Some of the actions that companies can monitor using web scraping include; competitors’ products, prices, and promotions. It’s in part thanks to web scraping, that your competitors’ data can be now available in real-time and with much more granularity. 

Such a dataset is going to be much more valuable than those being repackaged and sold by others, simply because it’s fresh, and relevant to YOU. It can be used by organizations to change their strategies and sometimes even their policies in order to suit the market.

Examples of gaining a competitive edge with relevant data:

  • This way, e-commerce platforms can control their prices and offer better deals to consumers by analyzing the competitors’ prices to be more competitive.
  • This provides automotive manufacturers’ intelligence about the new releases and options as well as the price of cars from competitors; this helps automotive manufacturers plan for new models as well as marketing strategies.
  • Applying scraping to social media and review websites, consumer goods companies can identify the shifts in the consumers’ attitudes and the competitors’ marketing techniques.

3. Market Insights

“Web scraping allows collecting novel data that are unavailable in traditional data sets assembled by public institutions or commercial providers.” Therefore, this data can be beneficial to find new business opportunities, improve marketing plans, and take data-driven decisions.

Examples of gaining market insights thanks to scraping:

  • Real estate companies can use the data from the property directories to get information on the supply, costs, and demand of houses and other properties in different regions.
  • Such trends can be picked from the social media platforms and the review websites by the consumer electronics firms to inform their product development strategies.
  • News websites and data from the stock exchange are useful to banks and other financial institutions to help them in their investment and risk management strategies.

4. Efficient Lead Generation

Another use of automated data collection in business has been in market research and lead generation for instance, as the authors pointed out “automated data collection has also been used in business, for example, for market research and lead generation.” 

This automated lead generation process is also more efficient and cost-effective than manual methods of identifying leads and creating a targeting list for marketing activities.

Examples of efficient lead generation through web scraping:

  • B2B software companies can use LinkedIn scraping to find contact details of decision-makers in the company or industry and close more leads.
  • To enhance their lead capture strategy, event management companies can scrape directories and social media for contact information of potential clients and partners.
  • Online education platforms can get leads that are interested in their courses by scraping educational forums and social media to improve their lead generation process.

5. Dynamic Pricing Optimization

Especially those operating in the e-commerce and tourism sectors can monitor the prices of their rivals at any time and tweak theirs in relation to this. 

This is because of those cool techy things, that dynamic pricing via data scraping makes it possible for the companies to offer reasonable prices and at the same increase their revenue.

Examples of data-driven dynamic pricing strategies:

  • Online travel agencies can also get information on fares and timings of the competitors’ flights and then pass on the best fares and timings to the customers.
  • Supermarkets can utilize web scraping to monitor the prices of their competitors and change their prices in real-time to gain market share.
  • In the retail business, this can be applied to track the prices and deals of the other stores and then set your prices and deals to be better than those of the competitors.

6. Product and Service Enhancements

By compiling customer reviews and feedback from different social media platforms, organizations can learn the needs of customers as well as the shortcomings of the business. 

The authors point out that “With the Internet of Things emerging, the scope of data available for scraping is set to increase in the future.” Companies know that and they’re capitalizing on it!

One of the ways they use what they scrapped is to perform a sentiment analysis on this data, thus making improvements to their products or services.

Examples of enhancing products and services backed by data:

  • Web scraping can be utilized to obtain user feedback from forums and social media accounts to fix problems and enhance products and services in real time.
  • Fitness equipment manufacturers can retrieve customer reviews from e-commerce sites to identify problems faced by customers and areas needing improvement, thereby enhancing product quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Hospitality companies can crawl review websites to obtain customers’ feedback and thus identify areas that need improvement in their services and products.

7. Data Quality and Understanding

Let me borrow from the authors who put it beautifully: “web scraping can make interesting data sources accessible to everyone.” This enhanced data enhances the quality and breadth of business analytics, which enhances the decision-making procedures.

Examples of boosting data quality and understanding:

  • Telecom companies can obtain information from their clients’ social media profiles and enhance the customer base for the purpose of creating more targeted marketing strategies.
  • Weather data and traffic accident data from the web can help insurance companies enhance the effectiveness of risk assessment models.
  • Marketing agencies can also use scraping to gather more information on their clients’ consumers to enhance their marketing strategies.

8. Scalability and Efficiency

Some of the modern tools used in web scraping can scrape data from several sources at the same time and in the shortest time possible which is vital for the identification of business trends in large volumes of data.

Examples of ways to improve scalability and efficiency:

  • For this data collection from thousands of websites, the e-commerce platforms can use tools like Scrapy to get the most relevant and updated product information.
  • Companies that offer market research services can use BeautifulSoup to collect data from different industry websites and provide the findings to their clients.
  • Thus, web scraping tools can be used by financial services firms to gather and analyze data from financial news websites.

9. Real-Time Data

Real-time information is a precious asset that can assist companies in responding to changes in the market environment and satisfy customers’ demands. 

Since everything is so fast-paced nowadays, business decisions can no longer be made without real-time information, and this is what web scraping offers.

Examples of accessing real-time data through web scraping:

  • Firms in the financial services industry are able to collect real time information from different stock market websites to be able to make the right investment decisions in a bid to make high returns.
  • Through this, web scraping can be applied to help online retailers monitor their competitors’ prices in real-time and adjust their prices according to the trends in the market.
  • This can be useful for travel companies because they can get information about flights and hotels in real time and change their services and prices based on that.

In Summary, Here’s Why Businesses Love Web Scraping:

It helps with: cutting down costs through the automation of processes, obtaining real-time competitive intelligence, revealing hidden market trends, getting leads easily, assisting with dynamic pricing strategies, and optimizing products and services through data analysis. 

Hence, through the use of web scraping, organizations can be in a position to gather data, make proper decisions, and respond to changes in the market to achieve growth.


Referenced article: https://oxfordre.com/economics/display/10.1093/acrefore/9780190625979.001.0001/acrefore-9780190625979-e-652

Alexander Schmidt

Alexander Schmidt is a software engineer who believes in working smarter, not harder. With 12 years of experience dealing with automation and web data extraction for analysis and research, he empowers businesses with practical tips and valuable insights delivered in a fun and easy-to-read manner to help others maximize the value and performance of their proxy solutions. When he's not tweaking his setup or consulting for SMBs, you can find Alexander geeking out on the latest tech news and AI advancements.

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