What Is “Inventory Management”?
Inventory management, also called inventory control, stock management, namely, is to manage the stock of products. As a key element of supply chain management, It monitors the process of products from manufacturing to warehousing, and finally to the point of sale.
Data For Inventory Management: Who And Why
Who would need this data?
Knowing your goods inventory well is not only important to big enterprises with complex supply chains, but also smaller companies.
Inventory management is important to every practitioner in the e-Commerce and retail industry. No matter which position you’re in the supply chain, from an online shop owner to a brand owner, or even a manufacturer. Inventory data, or put it generally, e-Commerce data, is in high demand.
Why is inventory data of great importance?
It plays an important role in affecting your consumer’s experience. For example, if the product is always out of stock or it has no stock but on your website, it shows in stock, all of these will cause problems to your product management. As a store owner, you need to manage your inventory well, otherwise, the cost of warehousing and supply-chain-management is a big concern.
Inventory data or other e-Commerce data can be beneficial to your business for sure. For example:
- Knowing if your marketing positioning and strategy is configured well (e.g. stockout rate, overstock rate)
- Knowing your competitors’ strategy in inventory management, pricing positioning, the cycle of sales, and more
Common Data In Inventory Management
We know that inventory management is significant to companies of any scale. Knowing your inventory or even your competitor’s well can help you make decisions on when to restock the inventory, how to set a reasonable pricing strategy and even your sales and marketing strategy such as when to sell your products at what price.
Big companies normally will have a specialized system such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or SaaS (with highly customized ability Software as a Service) to help them track the stocks and set restock alerts. Meanwhile, small companies use Excel to keep a record of stocks manually.
To better understand your inventory or your competitors’ for further analysis, you may need the following data.
- Product basic information (e.g. Name, Brand, Specifications, Manufacturing date)
- Stock (Stock status)
- Number of orders/sales
- Price (normal price, discounter price, bundle price, etc)
- Ratings and reviews
We know there is some common data in need, but to get them is not always easy.
Difficulties To getting Ecommerce Data
E-Commerce data is in high demand thanks to the development of the express system and the e-Commerce industry. However, getting e-commerce data is not always as easy as we expect. Most famous e-Commerce platforms such as Amazon apply very strict anti-scraping techniques to limit other people’s access to their data. Apart from that, there are also some major concerns about getting constant and instant e-Commerce data.
- E-Commerce data are updated very frequently: The reason why we need to collect e-Commerce data is to capture the moment of change so that we can track when the market changes or price fluctuates, or the goods needs to get replenished. All of these may have a high requirement for data extraction speed, and automation.
- Lots of different websites to scrape: In different industries, there are many specialized websites to scrape from well-known platforms like Amazon, to local small businesses. For the automotive industry, the data they tend to scrape is totally different from a local grocery/supermarket industry.
- Complex website structure: E-Commerce websites, mostly, have a relatively complex website structure to cause a barrier to web scraping. Also, websites like Amazon update their website structure frequently to minimize being scraped.
- Instant data updates to your platform or database (API): Once the data is ready, how to deliver the extracted data to your own platforms for usage is also a concern.
More details you can read: 9 Web Scraping Challenges You Should Know
After knowing the major difficulties, we still can propose a solution for you to solve or minimize the influence of those problems.
Solution For Inventory Management
Around 60% of our premium customers (from famous brands to online store owners or e-Commerce platform start-ups) use Octoparse to get e-Commerce data. This number can tell that we’re reliable in the e-Commerce data area. Our common e-Commerce applications are as follows.
- Brand holder/Manufacturer: to collect product data such as pricing, stock, reviews from different online platforms such as Amazon, eBay for price monitoring, inventory management, and brand management, and to collect competitors’ product data from different platforms for marketing analysis, competitor analysis, etc.
- Online store owner (can be an Amazon or a Shopify seller): store product management in big platforms
- E-Commerce website/platform: to congregate product data from other e-commerce platforms, suppliers’ side to start a new e-Commerce website
More web scraping use cases: Business stories told by our customers
Advantages of Octoparse
- No need for big amount of starting costs
Price is sometimes the biggest concern for a start-up. Most ERP systems require a license fee and a relatively high onboarding and maintenance fee. It could be a burden to start-ups. Also, most of its features are more suitable for companies of a bigger scale. Octoparse, as a SaaS application, has flexible pricing based on the scale and requirements of your project, which provides quite a reasonable and fair price considering the final output we bring out for users. You can check our pricing page for details.
- Help get data to build your own database
For ERP, you may need to input some data first so that you can manage the system to organize your inventory and other resources. However, if you don’t have a data source at the beginning as start-ups, then you may need an application to help you collect data first for business development. Also, many ERP systems are for internal resources management. If you want to know how your competitor(s) manage their inventory, how they set the pricing strategy, then an ERP cannot help with that, while Octoparse can be a reliable tool to help monitor competitors’ data from different platforms for your further decision-making.
Also, you may consider hiring a tech person to write crawlers by Python to get data. This is also a flexible way, but the labor cost is also a concern.
- Monitor different online platforms/Deal with different systems
As an online business owner, you may need to deal with different suppliers’ systems to get the updated data. Manual work is not efficient when you need to deal with a big amount of data frequently from various platforms. Taking the automotive industry as an example, it has a lot of manufactures for parts. If you need to get updated from different manufacturers’ websites or internal systems, writing your own crawlers can be difficult, while Octoparse can make it easier for you. With Octoparse, you can easily set up crawlers for each website/online system to get data such as SKU, part number, item number, stock status, etc.
- High automation
If you choose a web scraping tool, you may expect it can help you get updated regularly and even more you want to use the data directly to your own platforms.
With Octoparse, once your crawlers(tasks) are ready, you can schedule it to run on your preferred frequency(hourly, daily, weekly, etc). Octoparse also has auto IP rotation to crawl web data so that the chance of being blocked can be minimized.
Once you get the data, you can either choose to export to a file (e.g. XLSX, CSV) or auto-export to your database. Sometimes, you don’t even need to open the application since you can use Octoparse Advanced API to deliver the extracted data to your systems or websites.
- Managed service provided by expertise
Even using Octoparse to get web data is already quite easy to start compared to learning a programming language, some efforts in learning are still needed. However, you can leave the setting up stuff to our expertise. We can help you set up everything to help your project on-board in time.
What Octoparse can offer?
As a SaaS company, Octoparse provides a highly customized solution to users to get any web data as their needs. No matter if you need e-Commerce data from big famous e-Commerce platforms like Amazon, eBay, Shoppe, etc, or you need data from local e-Commerce websites and suppliers’ databases, Octoparse can be a good choice for you to get data in a formatted way.
We have 2 modes for users to get web data.
One is called Task Templates. We have over 100 built-in task templates for users to get web data directly from famous websites of different kinds.
- E-Commerce: Amazon, eBay, Tokopedia, Flipkart, Shopee, Target, Walmart, etc
- Business directory: Yelp, Yellowpages
- Social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
Taking Amazon as an example, if you have a list of ASINs on hand, then you can utilize our pre-built templates to get product data directly and automate the whole process to deliver formatted data to your database. If you find no templates that can suit your data needs, we also provide managed data service to assist.
The other mode is called Advanced Mode, the most popular and highly customizable one, which allows you to configure the tasks on your own as long as the data you need can be found on the web page source code. To start a web scraping project, you just need to enter the target URL(s).
Under the Advanced Mode, you need to set up your own tasks to capture data from different websites. Task means the crawler you use Octoparse to build. Normally, you need to build a workflow by navigating the web page you enter. Octoparse can even deal with websites that require credentials to access (We will keep your log-in credentials confidential).
The Enterprise solution is normally for teams/companies with relatively heavy data needs. To be specific, if you want to monitor product data from over 5 platforms, the amount of product is over 10,000 and you want to get automated data daily, then you may consider this option. We can provide an on-boarding solution if you want us to test and set up some crawlers for you. For example, if you’re a furniture brand holder, you want to monitor your products or your competitors’ information from different channels such as HomeDepot, Wayfair, Amazon, etc on a weekly or even daily basis, we can help set up crawlers for you so that you can use it easily and get automated updated data for internal analysis, or you can place extracted data to build your own platforms.
If you don’t want to learn how to use Octoparse, you can outsource your data project to us. We provide a clean data delivery service one-time or on a regular basis.
Let me know what you think of this article. If you have any questions about Octoparse, you’re welcome to contact us via email@example.com. You can check our YouTube channel to better understand the core concepts of Octoparse.
Also, if you’re interested to know how Octoparse works for your e-Commerce needs and scenarios, feel free to share more details about your project and book a 15-30min demo with us. We’d like to try our best to walk you through it!