Use of Proxies for Pricing Intelligence in Businesses

With the constant change of online trends and security standards, businesses that depend on digital data collection adopt on the go. In the past few years, companies have drastically increased their usage of proxy servers to increase productivity, cut their costs, and remain competitive. Proxies are harnessed to aid web crawling and web scraping operations for market research, brand protection, ad verification, travel fare aggregation, to name a few. However, one of the most sought-after services is using proxies for price intelligence.

What are Use Cases of Price Crawlers

Online markets are very dynamic, and prices often fluctuate, which means that e-commerce businesses need to react quickly in order to stay competitive. One of the ways to achieve that is by monitoring competitors’ prices and adjusting their own pricing strategy accordingly. However, we are talking about hundreds of thousands of price changes across a wide range of e-commerce websites that are taking place every day. Depending on the market in question, it is next to impossible to collect all this vast amount of data manually. Businesses have thus turned to automated intelligent web crawling to get actionable intelligence they need.

Notable use cases of price intelligence include:

  1. Brand monitoring across different channels and domains
  1. Consumer sentiment analysis
  1. Analysis of product reviews
  1. Pricing trends monitoring

Typical users of price intelligence web crawling services are:

       Price comparison websites

These types of sites rely heavily on the web crawling services to provide relevant and accurate data to their visitors. They are highly dependent on price crawlers for fetching large amounts of data from targeted e-commerce websites. 

       E-commerce websites

These companies are typically using a price crawler to retrieve the pricing data from their competitors, analyze it, and come up with an appropriate pricing strategy of their own. Also, the gathered data helps them monitor and understand their competitor’s selection of products, enabling them to respond to market trends and changes promptly.

Web Crawling Proxies and their Advantages

Leading e-commerce websites and marketplaces implement various blocking features on their servers’ side to prevent any automated data collection. Typically, these anti-scraping measures work by detecting an increased number of access requests from a single IP address. A more significant number of requests usually indicates mechanical behavior, so the web servers respond by blocking the said IP address for a predetermined time. If you try to scrape any significant amount of data from most popular data-wealthy sources, you will most certainly hit their access limit and get your IP blacklisted.

Proxy servers are irreplaceable when it comes to getting around these kinds of restrictions. They allow for a balanced distribution of more significant numbers of requests over an equally large number of proxy servers. As a result, the targeted website will only register a few requests coming from individual original IPs. As the target website doesn’t want to block legitimate human visitors, it is usually set to permit a certain number of requests from one IP address over some time, depending on the content type. This allows the requests that come from proxy servers to pass under the radar, enabling the price crawler to extract all the data it needs from numerous simultaneous requests.

What’s more, an organic visitor often opens many links in different tabs, making a large number of requests within several seconds. However, a real user will then make a pause to view the open content before they continue making new requests. According to Wordfence, a general recommendation is that the upper allowed rate limit of a website shouldn’t exceed 240 requests per minute. If a crawler surpasses this limit, its IP more often than not will be blocked. 

With this in mind, price crawlers should be carefully configured to make no more than allowed number of requests from one single IP address. The larger the number of proxy servers employed leads to a higher number of requests that can be sent simultaneously to the desired source, without raising any suspicions to the web servers’ anti-scraping measures.

Different websites have different rules for their rate limits. Some will be more relaxed, and some more strict with the number of allowed requests before the IP gets throttled. If you’d like to find out more on the topic, these internet users share their knowledge and useful techniques on how to bypass anti-scraping measures implemented by web servers.

Wrapping It Up

To avoid a rather large number of technical pitfalls and wasting their human resources, the recommended choice for most businesses would be to outsource the price data collection to companies that offer specialized web crawling and data scraping proxy services.

Relying on a specialized price scrapping service allows businesses to focus on the data scraping results instead of worrying about technical aspects. It enables them to adapt to price changes, analyze pricing trends over specific periods, get valuable insight about their competitors’ products, as well as their consumers’ opinions. Analysis of this data can help them come up with optimal pricing strategies and advance their position on the market.

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