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Using Node.js To Explain How Scraping Has Changed eCommerce

Node.js is an ingenious piece of computer code that makes various complicated tasks easier for coders. One of these applications is web scraping, which has become more accessible, cheaper, and more comprehensive with the help of Node.js.

Web scraping has given business owners access to an incredible volume of data about their customers and competitors, which can be leveraged to increase sales and profits. More information results in better-informed decision making; web scraping makes accessing such vital information easier.

This piece covers the basics of what Node.js is before moving on to its impact on eCommerce. For more technical coverage of the former, there are a myriad of extensive resources on the internet, one specifically being a Node.js tutorial.

What is Node.js?

Node.js is a Javascript runtime environment that is available as an open-source software for a variety of operating platforms. It is freely available because it is administered by the OpenJS Foundation (JS being short for JavaScript), a not-for-profit supported by companies like Google, Netflix, and Microsoft.

The entire point of the environment is to quickly and efficiently process input-output operations to run simultaneously. If you don’t use Node.js, you may be stuck waiting for one operation to finish before another one begins.

These qualities make Node.js an excellent component of web servers and help with messaging clients. It is in use all over the internet. Indeed, any Node.js tutorial will start by pointing out what a wide range of possible applications it has, especially since it’s easily compatible with the V8 JavaScript engine that powers Google Chrome.

Think about several people conversing on a web platform. Everyone will be sending messages quickly and, inevitably, at almost the same time. The fact that Node.js can process these requests concurrently rather than consecutively means that no one has to wait for someone else’s message to be posted before theirs.

Node.js is a Great Tool for Web Scraping

There are three main reasons that Node.js has taken web scraping to never-before-seen heights of importance for eCommerce.

Speed

Using Node.js for web scraping is great for online businesses, due to the speed at which you can collect data from many different websites. As a result of the concurrent processing that Node.js enables, you do not need to wait to process each website before moving on to the next one. Instead, you can gain information from several all at once.

Cost

The savings do not only come in time, they come through avoiding many costs associated with heavy computer usage. The efficiency in scraping frees up computation power for other tasks, like processing the data you have gathered. You will also save on energy costs.

Customizability

Depending on how you set up the Node.js-constructed web scraper, you can collect the focused data useful for your business while avoiding a lot of other peripheral data. For example, if you are interested in the search keywords a competitor is using on their website, you can write a few more lines of code into your implementation. This will enable you to extract just that specific data.

Node.js and Processing Your Data

The exact ways that your eCommerce business can benefit from web scraping depend on several factors about your company. How large is your business? How many competitors do you have? How large is the market? The answers to these questions determine whether some of these will be useful in growing your business.

Each of these uses of web scraping depends on the collection of different types of data from different kinds of websites. In some, you’ll mostly be looking at competitors on Amazon and similar sites, while with others, your program will be flipping through social media to see what your customers are saying. As you read through these, think about whether (and how) you’d be able to use the information.

Product Data and Details

One of the most common and essential uses of web scraping is learning about your competitors through their web presence. A web scraping tool can collect and organize pricing information on each of your competitors’ products. This can help you set your price to build the most optimally profitable pricing model you can.

Furthermore, a good scraping application can run continuously and alert you to your competitors’ pricing changes. Getting this information in real-time means that your business will be able to respond nimbly as the market changes.

It is also possible to extract the descriptions competitors use for their products, giving you insight into how they are selling and differentiating them. You can use this information to inform the presentation of your products and your marketing strategy.

Scraping should not only be used to see how your product stacks up in a market. One can deploy the power of scraping proactively before your products are even on the market. If the analysis of your competitors reveals that a particular product feature is essential, be sure to include the concept in the version you have in development.

Scraping Data from YellowPages

YellowPages is the leading website for companies’ listings, so you can’t afford to ignore it if your business depends on selling products and services to other businesses. The drawback of such an extensive directory is the amount of time it would take a human to go through everything. This is where scrapers come into play.

You can extract the precise information you need using a scraper and save a lot of time. Cleverly, setting up your Node.js implementation enables you to target only certain types of businesses and extract only targeted information.

For example, a company makes and distributes paper cups to cafeterias and coffee shops. They could run a scrape of YellowPages to identify all the coffee shops in their area and could pick the information they’d like to see. A company whose sales strategy relies on cold calls over the phone does not need hundreds of email addresses, while an online-first company could choose to receive the opposite information.

Learning About Customers

Once you know who your potential customers are, you will probably want to know more about them. You can use a scraper to extract valuable information from a company’s website or look for pages that mention them across the web. Once again, you can customize your technology to deliver the most crucial information.

Sentiment Analysis

Sentiment analysis is a cutting-edge business tactic that gives a real edge to those who know how to harness it. This technology does exactly what it says – it tracks how people feel about a topic based on how they write about it online.

A web scraper can collect vast amounts of linguistic data that contains everything that your customers are saying about your brand or a specific product. With that data in hand, you can feed it into programs that will identify the emotions that thousands of people attach to your products.  

Summing Up

Any eCommerce business owner who is able to get past the apparent complexity of web scraping and see the varied and immense benefits it brings, can increase their bottom line through its use. Although some of the practical aspects can seem complicated, all you need to do is take a look at a Node.js tutorial and get the basic knowledge (or you can hire someone who already has it). At its core, the principles behind web scraping are old-fashioned: know your competitors and know your customers.

About the Author

Christoph Leitner is a code-loving father of two beautiful children. He is a full-stack developer and a committed team member at Zenscrape.com – a subsidiary of saas.industries. When he isn’t building software, Christoph can be found spending time with his family or training for his next marathon.

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