Online retail companies increasingly rely on insights from web data to guide their pricing strategies and find the best time for product and service launches.
A recent questionnaire (opens in new tab) Carried out by Clear data (opens in new tab) and Vanson Bourne found that about 87% of e-commerce companies have increased their budgets for collecting and managing web data in the past 12 months — more than a third (38%) of them by more than 10%, a significant increase from 25% compared to last year (2021 ).
What can ecommerce companies do with web data?
In general, web data gives e-commerce companies a better view of the competitive online market landscape. This set of information provides insight into everything from current sales offers to product prices to positions to consumer reviews and more. While the uses for this vital resource are countless, online retailers typically collect public web data for the following main reasons:
Using web data, retailers can benchmark against their competition by comparing and checking the prices of identical products that compete directly with their own site.
This helps answer questions like: how many questions do their competitors ask? Do they have sales or special offers? What about the shipping costs? Is there a pattern in how they raise and lower prices?
A reliable answer to these questions is critical to success in today’s rapidly changing ecommerce landscape. That’s why more than a third (34%) of e-commerce companies collect web data to compare competitors’ prices against their own inventory. Some even automate this whole process to enable the implementation of successful dynamic pricing models.
Positioning and inventory
In addition to revealing hidden insights into pricing, web data also provides information on how best online retailers can bring their products to the attention of the public.
Using this information, online retailers can work to identify specific keywords or messages that can help their products rank higher in search results, essentially helping them make smarter and strategic marketing decisions by learning from the best.
Some e-commerce companies even go a step further by using web data to discover new merchandising and product opportunities by tracking competitors’ online inventory.
This tactic is particularly useful for multinational companies looking to enter a new, unfamiliar market, and can also help smaller retailers identify new products that are currently popular on popular online marketplaces to sell.
Search Engine Strategy
Many e-commerce companies — about 58%, according to Bright Data’s research — continuously collect SERP (search engine results page) web data, which focuses on both the paid and organic search results of various keywords and queries typed into search engines.
SERP web data is generally used by digital marketers to devise strategies for brand sentiment, online reputation management (ORM), and improving keyword rankings to adjust their positioning and visibility in search engines.
It also enables companies to track their competition, discover hidden trends, improve paid advertising, reveal content gaps and, more importantly, understand how their content is performing from region to region.
Overall, SERP web data allows companies to outperform their competition on the search engine results page, as well as the ability to immediately take corrective steps in their strategies if more room for improvement is needed.
Every day millions of consumer interactions take place on marketplaces, social media and various forums. Ecommerce brands increasingly want to use this information. Bright Data’s research shows that 66% of brands currently collect public web data from social media.
This particular dataset helps social media teams recognize shifts in consumer behavior and anticipate product and campaign popularity. It also offers the advantage of adapting strategies in real time, allowing companies to publish relevant social media content at the time – as what was relevant today may not be relevant tomorrow.
Overall, the benefits of understanding what consumers are saying online are many. It can be as simple as learning to change the text on a product description to indicate that batteries are not included. Or it could be as complex as discovering an opportunity to create a brand new product range.
But when it comes to social media-driven trends, those ecommerce businesses that can respond to the market in real time gain a significant advantage over those that don’t.
Web Data Collection Strategies: Internal Web Data Collection vs Prebuilt Data Sets
Online retailers are increasingly finding that they are often unable to cope with the demands of collecting data internally. The Bright Data survey found that more than half (55%) of respondents want to make acquisitions or seek external partners to support their web data collection efforts – a 25% increase from just two years ago.
In general, e-commerce companies have two options available to them. The first is to collect data on a large scale themselves, and more than half (52%) of Bright Data survey respondents say this is their primary data collection tactic. Elsewhere, 88% report using web scraping applications or technologies to help them, rather than relying on a manual approach.
This kind of massive web data collection requires an in-house team to clean, structure, and analyze the data, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. However, this approach generates real-time insights, which are critical to helping e-commerce companies make smart decisions in areas such as pricing.
The second option available to online retailers is the use of ready-to-use datasets, which are becoming increasingly popular. More than a third (36%) of ecommerce companies surveyed by Bright Data say these are their primary sources of web data.
Data sets are essentially large sets of data or information focused on a single topic, collected from single or different sources. These sets are then structured into readable tables or formats from which valuable insights can be easily extracted.
Prebuilt datasets can be bought ‘off the shelf’ as a package – and often contain enriched insights to support strategic decision-making. This allows businesses to still use data without investing the time and resources needed to collect it.
The downside is that these are typically updated periodically, so they don’t provide the minute-to-minute accuracy of massive web data collection. However, the price can often be more attractive.
Nearly every industry now relies on insights from web data to support decision making — and ecommerce is no different. So it’s no surprise that 91% of e-commerce companies surveyed by Clear data (opens in new tab) ranking web data collection as ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ for both day-to-day operations and strategic decision-making.
The smartest players automate this process as much as possible, but also use a tactical combination of massive data collection and targeted pre-built datasets to give themselves the right breadth and depth of information for their needs.