How Can Web Scraping Help Improve Your Company’s Bottom Line?

In order to extract information from sites on the Internet, a process called web scraping has been developed. By means of web scraping, data can be pieced together to create usable reports. While this process can be performed in a painstaking manual process, there is no reason to do so. Automated tools can collect and format the data rapidly, saving you time and money in the long run. However, web scraping is not always an easy task to accomplish, even for an automated tool. After all, websites can be formatted differently from site to site.

So, the idea is to find a web scrapper software that successfully gathers the information that means the most to your business and reports that data in a usable format. A discerning company will opt for custom software development to get the exact benefits of web scraping that you require.

Consider the following uses of web scraping:

  • Generating leads by scraping sites that contain a person’s address or other useful information.
  • Monitoring the changes in prices of an item.
  • Researching data relevant to your industry.
  • Tracking your business reputation or presence on the web.
  • Detecting changes to a website.
  • Gathering product review data for your products or a competitor’s.
  • Comparing prices from various websites or companies.
  • Market research using financial data.
At The Farber Consulting Group Inc., we developed a web scraping tool for one of our clients that allows them to search multiple websites. Our Dot Net developers created a web scraper that uses MS SQL database as the back end.

Web Scraping: How Does It Work?

In modern times, most web scrapers are automated. This may call for the need to assign some specific business rules. However, there is only so much that you can accomplish with a general-purpose web scraper.

Therefore, it is no surprise that companies experience greater success when software developers build a custom web scraper tailored to their specific business needs. Check out another article we have produced on this topic: Screen scraping as a data retrieval app to maximize inventory control and profit margins.

Web scraping is the extraction of data from a website. The information is collected and then exported into a database or another file type and broken down into a format that is useful to the user. In our case, a database format is the most logical way to utilize the data. You can always come back to it and search for specific information versus the new data which was just extracted from your specific URLs.

How does web scarping tool gets the data?

Web scrapers work by loading the HTML code of URLs to be scrapped. Some may even render JavaScript or CSS elements. Depending on the goal of the scraping, the scraper will either pull all of the information from the page or will search for specific data. Obviously, searching for data that is specific to the needs of your business is what will make web scraping the most beneficial. Some applications of this would be to compare prices of something or to add a search result into your database to create a larger knowledge base on a topic.

For example, we noted above the idea of monitoring price changes.

You can decide the specifics of the web scraping results. If you scrape from eBay or another popular website, you may not want to extract the reviews section. The relevant information would be the part number or description and, most importantly, the price adjustment. For automated scrapers, a report is generated with the information that has been scraped together from the website. The data can be formatted as a spreadsheet, a CSV, or it may use other customer forms of interface.

So, let’s say that you want to perform one of the following screen scraping operations:

  • Finding the best price for a particular product.
  • Researching additional information for a product.
  • Find related parts for a product – in other words, the products will all have different part numbers but be for the same product.
  • Research multiple suppliers while looking for the same part number.

For that specific screen scraping requirements you may need a custom web scraping application to be developed for your company. Any existing web scarping tool may not work adequately for your company's needs.

A Custom Web Scraping Software Developed By The Farber Consulting Group Inc.

At The Farber Consulting Group Inc., we developed a web scraping tool for one of our clients that allows them to search multiple websites. Our Dot Net developers created a web scraper that uses MS SQL database as the back end. What were the results?

The client’s revenue was boosted by at least 40%! Now that is a quick way to improve your brand’s bottom line! As a result, the custom application that our Dot Net company produced has become mission-critical application for our client. Many of the company’s employees use this custom application on a daily basis. What exactly does it do?

The client’s revenue was boosted by at least 40%! Now that is a quick way to improve your brand’s bottom line! As a result, the custom application that our Dot Net company produced has become mission-critical for our client. Many of the company’s employees use this custom application on a daily basis.

What exactly does it do?

The main job is extracting pricing information using the following:

  • Part numbers.
  • Quantity.
  • Part description.
  • Market research – inventory handling by competitors.
  • Additional part information.

Find related parts from one supplier to another with a Web Scarping Software:

The web scraper also extracts different part numbers for items or components related to the part number that was searched. For example, another supplier may use a different part number. Thus, the scraper can identify if the same part is being called No. 111 on one website and No. 222 on another.

For each part number, the application acquires the number in stock, the part description, price, quantity that other suppliers have, and so on. Based on the part number, relationships are created from one supplier to the next. In this way, the company finds all the needed parts, even if a different part number was used by a supplier.

Even though the data is extracted from multiple websites, it is processed in parallel. This is known as multi-thread capability and is a feature that dot net developers can use during custom software development to ensure multiple supplies are handled at the same time while optimizing performance. Our custom software has no problem searching ten websites for data at the same time.

State-of-the-Art Multi-Thread Processing (also Known as Parallel Processing):

Our custom application takes advantage of state-of-the-art design. It uses tasks based on asynchronous programming to maximize performance over hardware cost. We increase the performance and responsiveness of the application for long-running operations.

For example, when the application is searching for a particular item, multiple suppliers are searched in parallel (at the same time) in the background. The user can work on other applications so as to maximize their time.

Efficient and Scalable Use of System Resources:

We use task-based asynchronous programming (parallel programming) to search in parallel for different suppliers. The screen scraping application uses the latest caching techniques. This way, duplicate queries are not performed.

This maximizes system resources for the content scraping and provides you with rapid results. Thus, the screen scraping application can perform multiple searches for concurrent users without losing speed. In this manner, you save time and money, especially when multiple users require the use of the web scraper at the same time.

Create a decision support system from web scraping software:

The application uses its smart features for its data scraping to relate your current search with past searches by learning the relationship between products. Thus, the data scraping can create and maintain a network of relationships between products, even though they may have different part numbers from different suppliers.

As a result, the app returns the best possible information, uncovers hidden results from the providers, and continues to improve the data over time.

Ultimately, you can expand your knowledge base of industry pricing from different suppliers, ensuring that you always have the best options to choose from when making a purchase.

Searching Your Company’s Inventory:

Of course, there is no need to scrape your own website. However, the application will make use of your database to provide the following vital data:

  • Price.
  • Part description.
  • Quantity.
  • Image of the item.

Your inventory shows up at the top of the results so you can rapidly compare your brand with other suppliers.

Hybrid Search for Greater Functionality:

Some providers will supply data for their parts and inventory to your company. That data gets imported into your database. Thus, the data can be extracted directly from your database rather than through the website. The web scraping software can retrieve the data from the client’s database and complete the missing data from the same supplier. Some suppliers display additional data on their website. The content scrapers application is smart enough to merge data from the website and the local database.

Some providers offer quality information and a complete spreadsheet, while others will provide very little information. However, most suppliers allow data to be searched on their website, so you can still acquire the information you need.

Making Sure You Get the Best Price:

Let’s say that you have entered part number 1111222 into the screen scraping application. The search results that appear come from eight different websites. You can then search within that data for the best price, which will be highlighted in a different color. This ensures that you always find the best price when you need to make a purchase.

Let Our Dot Net Developers Help Your Company Improve Your Bottom Line:

The Farber Consulting Group Inc. can help your business with a custom web scraping application. Contact us today to put our experienced dot net company to work for you!

Some of the technologies that we use:

Doron Farber - The Farber Consulting Group

I started to develop custom software since 1985 while using dBase III from Aston Tate. From there I moved to FoxBase and to FoxPro and ended up working with Visual FoxPro until Microsoft stopped supporting that great engine. With the Visual FoxPro, I developed the VisualRep which is Report and Query Engine. We are also a dot net development company, and one of our projects is a web scrapping from different web sites. We are Alpha AnyWhere developers, and the Avis Car Rental company trusted us with their contract management software that we developed with the Alpha Five software Engine.