How to web scrape data from ecommerce websites like Amazon

eCommerce websites contain very valuable data like prices, reviews, and images harvested properly could give an advantage. This article will show you how to web scrape data from eCommerce websites

By Admin @October, 30 2020

how to web scrape data from ecommerce websites like amazon

 

THE NEED FOR SCRAPING E-COMMERCE WEBSITES

There will be a lot of reasons to scrape e-commerce websites, one of the fastest ways of making money is commerce and that means a lot of people invest in it. And the websites where commerce activities take place are called e-commerce.

Statistics

  • Millennials conduct 54% of their purchases online.
  • With an estimated population of 7.7 billion in the world, 25% of the world population shop online.
  • The number of global digital buyers is expected to hit a massive 2.14 billion by 2021.

This means there are many online shop owners and they will need to build a lot of automation around e-commerce websites because they will want to stand out among competitors. Shop owner in their plan to improve their products and have better sales and conversions will need:

  • a way to keep tabs on their competitors.
  • data on customers' preferences, needs, and satisfaction.
  • a lot of other important factors for market research and intelligence.

Being able to scrape e-commerce websites will be a valuable skill to learn. This guide teaches you how to go about it.

WHY SCRAPE ECOMMERCE WEBSITES?

Staying competitive while running an online business is imperative and using data publicly available online can give you an advantage. 

These are the most popular use-cases of e-Commerce web scraping

- Competitor monitoring

- Price Monitoring

- Lead Generation

- Monitor reviews

- Collect product descriptions / images

- Product research

- Data for dropshipping website

 

WebScraping for eCommerce webinar

 

UNDERSTANDING ECOMMERCE SITE STRUCTURE
 

Product page: Product details page and would contain one single product and all associated information like price, description, name along with a picture of the product. As ecommerce sites use this product page as a template, all products listed on the same site will have the same product page design.

Listings / category Page:  This is a page on a website which displays a list of all identically structured items. For eCommerce a product listing page lists all products based on a category or search query. It can also be referred to as “category pages,” 

 

CREATING A STRATEGY TO WEB SCRAPE E-COMMERCE WEBSITES

Scraping any website requires a mode of operation and they depend on your aim, the same applies to e-commerce websites. The first step is

1. Knowing what you want.

If you want to extract product data for instance, you will want to know all the categories you want the product data from, all the kinds of data you need. It might be as simple as just the product names, images, categories, and images. And you might want to include average ratings, each customer's rating and review. It could even be a more complex market research where you also need to make some comparisons, get the available data from the seller, and maybe customers.

You might want to build a scraper that uploads products to one or more e-shops. And you might want to extract data and still carry out some other web activities like adjusting products' prices.

2. Researching the e-commerce website

You also need to know the e-commerce website you want these data from. You want to know:

  1. If they have the data you require

After knowing what you want, you will want to check out the e-commerce website you want to get the data from. You will want to know if they have all the data you require, good if they do and if not, you want to know how to get the other data. You might want the sellers 'and customers' email addresses and phone numbers and not see it on the e-shop, you will want to check whether they have websites or social media info where you can get these data from.

  1. The architecture used

The next step will be to determine if a regular scraper will work on the website or if it is javascript-dependent and only a scraper that uses a headless browser will succeed in getting the data. You can do this by viewing the html source and checking if all the data is present, if it is, you can be more sure a regular scraper works and if not, a headless browser will be needed. If there is a lot of buttons to click, popup dialogues, and other kinds of dynamic responsive, it is likely you will need a headless browser.

Most e-commerce websites require a headless browser

  1. How to get the data

Here is the stage where you explore the website with the aim of knowing where the data are displayed, some data will be on the products' pages while to get some data, you will need to click on some buttons, visit other pages. For instance, the name, description, average ratings and price might be on a product's page while you have to click a button to see the customers 'reviews, click to see the sellers' info, click to see other data you need.

While clicking captchas might be present, if so, you have to equip the scraper with the ability to solve captchas. As you explore, be on the lookout for other barriers the scraper might encounter and make it go in fully prepared.

Captchas are mostly required to be solved before being able to view contact information like email addresses and phone numbers

 

How to extract data from Amazon in minutes using Ready to Go extractors

 

3. Create a scraper

At this stage, you know the data you want and how to get them. You are qualified to use the flow of how you manually got the data to create a web scraper to automate what you did manually on a product on a lot of other products - as many as you want.

  1. Create a scraper without writing code

You can easily create a web scraper with WebAutomation.io without having to write code, there is a visual interface for you to create a full-fledged scraper by using the flow you got in step 2. You can simply use the interface of WebAutomation to get a good flow and make the scraper use the flow to extract the data you want. And you can skip step 2 by just telling an expert at WebAutomation your needs and have your scraper created for you. Depending on your needs, you could get a dashboard where you manage the crawler.

How to easily create an Amazon Scraper with WebAutomation

Using the Ready to go web scrapers:

WebAutomation has a library of ready to go scrapers already built for the most popular e-commerce sites follow thes below steps to get data from one of these. See Article: Introducing Pre-Defined Ready to go extractors

  • Click Get Started For Free and create your account now. You get a free $ 25 free credit for registering
  • Search through the library and choose an extractor eg Amazon Scraper from list of Pre-Built Extractors and add assign it to your account
  • Enter your starter URLs and run the extractor

 

Using the Visual Point and Click tool

We will be creating a crawler that scrapes products off an Amazon product category or department in simple steps. In this paticular example we would be scraping Apple Laptops

  1. Create an Account with WebAutomation. You get a free $25 free credit for registering

  2. Obtain the categories’ URL and copy it down e.g Amazon "Computers, Components & Accessories"

  3. Open a product in that category is a new tab and copy down the link e.g Apple Macbook Air

  4. Visit your home on WebAutomation and paste the product’s link in the text and click the Start New Project button as shown below:

 

 

Allow the link to finish analyzing

 

  1. You can either make it your default or create a new project and select it. Choose product under the What do you want to scrape? Section and then click on the Next button to go to the second stage of creation

  2. Select the name, brand, and price  of the products using the visual point and click tool as shown below

 

With 1 being the name, 2 being the price, 3 to be the brand,  of the product. As you click on each attribute of the product, a popup modal is shown where you can pick an item, you select the product attribute you just clicked i.e. you select name from the dropdown if you click on the product’s name. You can then check the required box if the scraper must get this attribute and the image checkbox is the product’s attribute is of the type image. When done with each product’s attribute, you click on Add Element.

 

Click on Next when done with all product’s attribute

 

  1. This is the third stage of creating an Amazon scraper with Web Automation. At this point, you want to configure the crawler to tell it where to fetch data

 

  • To configure the Starter link, you will need to add in a search query or category page. So ut in the Starter Links and put the categories link you copied down is step 2 of this section. Click on View Details and put in the link to the page of the product’s category and then click on Save.

  • Link Extraction rules; this is used to prevent our crawler from visiting every link in the website to find our content, especially with a site like Amazon that has millions of links. Click on Link Rules > Add New Rule. For this particluar example a good link rule will be pagination elements' xpath commands to follow. Copy the XPath of the "Next" button on the Amazon categories page (the Starter Links). Paste the Xpath into the Command text area and click on Save New Rule.

You xpath you copied should look like xpath - //ul[@class="a-pagination"]/li[@class="a-last"] 

Paste it in the Command text area.

You can add more rules

  • Input the Link Allow/Deny Rules. To do this, click on Allow/Deny > Add New Rule. You then paste in a URL pattern and select allow as Type* for the scraper to follow all links that match that URL pattern or deny to not follow those links. Then click on Save New Rule. 

To be able to scrape the product’s category, we can add in the patterns page= and /dp/ and set Type* to allow for the two rules.

The first rule with pattern page= makes the scraper follow links that have page= in them, all pagination links have this pattern in them and adding this rule makes the crawler go to the next pages.

The second rule with /dp/ as the pattern makes the scraper follow product links because product links are known for having /dp/ in them. Allowing this rule, makes the scraper visit product pages

The scraper selects the product’s attributes (name, brand, price,  in this context) you selected in step 6 of this section every time it visits a product’s URL

  • Set some other preferences from the list of other available options like whether to Obey Robots.txt File Randomize User Agent, Enable Redirection, or not. And some other settings and options

  • Click on Test Extractor! to see how your spider works. You might want to start again from (i) if your Extractor’s run results and score is not so good. The interface teaches you how to improve the results and score of your scrape

  • Click on Next when done to move to the final stage (Run It)

 

  1. At this stage, you can click on

 

  • Run Now to run your scraper immediately

  • Schedule to make your scraper run based on a time table

  • See data section

 

At Web Automation, you can manage your scraper at the Extractors page. You can as well request for features and send in all your needs on any scraping project and have it taken care of by developers, developers are often done with scraping projects in a few days time.

  1. Writing code

You should first check out if there is an (official) API, APIs make getting the data relatively easy for you unlike creating a regular scraper or a headless browser, you only have to call the API endpoints and get the data you need. While using official APIs, you might not be able to get all the data you need

If there are no APIs or the data you require are not present in the API, you can then create a regular scraper or a headless browser based on the architecture used by the website which you discovered at step 2, you should check out our guide to scraping a regular website and how to web scrape javascript contents to make a headless browser if the website is javascript-dependent. It as well contains a guide on how to select product’s attributes (like name, brand, price, and description) by the attributes of their DOM elements

FINALLY

After creating your scraper, the next step is scheduling your web scraper to auto run and the final step is maintaining your web scraper. E-commerce websites are known for changing html formats and using anti-scraping techniques and algorithms to detect web scrapers and block them.

If you created your web scraper with WebAutomation , you do not have to worry about scheduling your scraper and anti-bot techniques being used to block the scraper. Experts do this for you so that your web scraper is always up and running. And there are high-end machines where scrapers are comfortable to work well

If you have chosen to write your own codes, then refer to How to avoid getting blocked while web scraping

 

REFERENCE

 

e-commerce statistics

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