How Web Scraping Helps Offline Retailers Boost Their Business
It is predicted that in 2020, brick-and-mortar retail sales are expected to decline by 14 percent, while e-commerce sales are expected to increase by 18 percent.
It is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic gave a blow to many brick-and-mortar retailers.
However, is e-commerce beating all the storefront retailers? Are e-commerce and physical retail bound to compete against each other in a zero-sum game?
Building an online direct-to-customer platform may be an irresistible trend, but people still need physical stores. The key is how can you become the store that is needed in the neighborhood?
This article will show you how to use web scraping to gain invaluable data and hence guide your decision-making process to gain an edge against your contenders. Stay with me, with the help of a web scraping tool, data is easier to get than you would expect.
In what aspects can web scraping help your retail business?
You are not only competing with the shops across the street. Because your competitors are likely running their DTC platform, you are also competing in the e-commerce market. That’s why you need e-commerce data. And don’t forget to make full use of the edge of a brick-and-mortar, for example, instant acquisition, direct feel and touch, experience and timely door-to-door service.
Select the right product to sell
As a brick-and-mortar store, you should always take product selection decisions more seriously. Just think this through – why people in the neighborhood would come and buy in your store in person instead of sliding his mobile phone and making the purchase on his couch.
To find the right product to sell in your brick-and-mortar, you should know:
- What products are your competitors offering online?
- What competitive products are on sale in your neighborhood?
- What customers are expecting from a brick-and-mortar (or what customers are complaining about online purchases)?
- What designs or product features show a trending sign online?
These are critical information for your product and competition research. And below is the data you should get using web scraping:
- The product details, reviews of your competitor brands on e-commerce web pages.
- Postings shared on social media by your potential customers to take a closer look at their shopping experience.
- All the retailers’ addresses in your neighborhood to carry out on-site research.
With this information, you are able to generate insightful ideas to guide your decision on product selection.
Find your best business partners: distributors, suppliers and contractors
There are many directory websites you can make full use of by web scraping, such as Yellowpages, Yelp, Craiglist, etc. Where to scrape from depends on what business you are focusing on.
And with data at hand, you can find the best partner to boost your business:
Build your perfect distribution network
Select a group of high-quality offline distributors. Take their locations into consideration so as to cover a wider range of your customers.
Good suppliers to lower the cost
As e-commerce prevails, pricing now is of high transparency. Therefore, you are no longer able to bet on information asymmetry and sell at high prices to fool your customers. To gain competition in pricing, you should find a supplier who offers products with lower prices and higher quality.
Nearby contractors for timely service
If you are selling air-conditioners, you should offer installation for your customers. If you are selling tiles, you may offer a paving service. A good contractor is important for your high-quality customer service.
For physical retailers: How to use Octoparse to scrape the needed data
In this section, I want to show you how to get Yellowpages data within 3 steps TO SCRAPE FROM YELLOWPAGES WITH TEMPLATE MODE.
Step 1: Select the Yelloepages Template
Run the Octoparse client and you will see the “Yellowpages” template available in the “Popular Task Templates” section. Click into the template.
Step 2: Enter the Keyword
You are just 1 step away to finish building the crawler! Name your task and enter the keyword you want to scrape from. Let’s take “furniture” as an example.
Step 3: Start the Yellowpages Scraper
Now your crawler is ready! Click “Save & Run” and Octoparse will start scraping the needed data for you. Within a few minutes, you can check in the dashboard the data ready for your export.
Dozens of ready-to-use templates are offered for standard plan users and above, including widely used websites in industries such as e-commerce, traveling, social media, jobs, real estate, etc.
If you are a new starter and not familiar with how to build a web crawler, Octoparse’s template mode can help a lot.
More About Octoparse
Not only Yellowpages, but you can also scrape product information by using e-commerce templates such as Amazon, eBay. If you are not ready to start a standard plan, you should try to start a task in the advanced mode and use auto-detection to automatically build a crawler that fits the data structure of the site.
You will find that web scraping and data harvesting is way easier than you think.
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