Web scraping in the post-pandemic world has changed the digital landscape of everyday business. To put it simply: for at least the last 16 months, local competition in every city of the world has been dead. I mean absolute dead zero metrics for almost any local business, and so, competition scaled to nothing. Although, we have another world we live in. Well, not entirely live in, but at least where we spend a significant part of our lives. In the digital world, and yes, we live in the digital world, we have relationships over mobile applications. We talk with our relatives using smartphones. We shop online and sometimes even fall asleep talking to ones and zeros. My guess is that Gottfried Leibniz had no idea that implementing the binary system in the 17th century could become one genuine part of 21st-century human life.
To get back to our main topic of discussion, let me quickly highlight my point: Competition has been transformed in the digital world. This means that Walmart, NASA, and Pentagon now probably have the same level of cyber defenses. Online eCommerce stores didn’t want anyone to know about their stock availabilities and prices—except customers, of course, since they are the ones paying for everything. A tremendous number of local businesses went fully digital in the timeframe of a few weeks when they had probably made a multi-year action plan for becoming digital-friendly just a couple of months before that. It was an utterly controversial disaster of a business’s digital development.
But Where is the Connection?
Let me tell you one crucial thing which benefited greatly over Covid-19, and that was web scraping. And, the explanation as to why is pretty simple: everyone needs data. Businesses require data to target their audience better or market their product in proper niches. Many companies wanted to check competition levels, or even better, to find new products or services to sell. Here is a quick rewind of what caused it all. Every medium or large enterprise decided to strengthen their defenses against automated web scraping tools and used every technological force to protect their data, even though it was publicly accessible and legally scrapable information. The point is that the data can be public, but regular users aren’t going to go through 100s of pages or search 15,000 products to find the right one. Well, some might do because I have done it a couple of times. Long story short, there was a lack of reliable data which could be retrieved at a large scale to give powerful insights into the current market back then. As you know, millions become millionaires during the Covid pandemic.
Origins of Web Scraping
You may not know it, but the origins of very basic web scraping can be dated back to 1989 when British scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web. Initially, the idea was to have a platform where information could be automatically shared between scientists in universities and institutes worldwide. His original goal was to create an information management system, but in the end, he managed to create a society of humans connected by technology. The very beginnings of protocols just allowing us to fetch the resources, which we now call HTTP, are the basis of web scraping. But the thing is, web scraping services are slightly different from regular scraping or data extraction tools. And many businesses failed to discover that in time. Before we discuss more, let’s first define what web scraping is and get an idea of how it works.
What is Web Scraping?
Web Scraping is the process of extracting, copying, parsing, or collecting data. Web scraping, in particular, is the process of using software applications to extract content and data from a website. The automated gathering of data from the web is as old as the internet itself. Even though web scraping is not a new term, the practice has been more commonly known as website data extraction, web harvesting, or other similar variations in the past. The consensus today seems to favor web scraping, but many also refer to it as web extraction, web crawling, data crawling, data extraction, or something else. All of these terms have almost the same meaning.
Web scraping is the process of extracting and gathering data by any means. This is usually accomplished by creating an automated software that queries a web server of the target website, requests data usually in the form of the HTML or JSON format and other files that comprise web pages, and then parses that data to extract necessary fields in the desired output. This may involve downloading several web pages or the entire site. The downloaded content may include just the text from the pages, HTML as a whole, or both the HTML and images from each page.
Web Scraping In Practice
Suppose you have a shop and want to keep track of your competitor’s prices. You could go to your competitor’s website every day to compare each product’s price with your own. But this would take up a lot of time and simply wouldn’t scale if you sold thousands of products or needed to check price changes frequently. Or maybe you want to buy a product when it is on sale. You could come back and review this product website each day until you get lucky, but the product you want might not be on sale for months. Both of these repetitive, manual processes could instead be replaced with an automated solution using web scraping techniques. Indeed, approximately 21% of current e-commerce traffic comes from price scrapers.
Who Exactly Needs Data Scraping?
Asking about who needs data scraping is when the story gets interesting. Many people are confused when they hear about web scraping. The simplest way to understand it is this: Whenever you try to extract any data from anywhere, it’s called web scraping, even if you are doing it manually. Although, at a certain point, we didn’t have an idea that it had a name. In the case of web scraping companies, the main difference lies in the automation of all processes. In order to define who needs web scraping for business, we might start by considering who needs data at all. I mean, don’t we all? Isn’t the purpose of the internet to receive data in a more modern manner and compete with each other about who holds the most information and knows more about everything? Isn’t the actual goal of businesses to overcome digital information flow madness and become better by learning more about the market, customers, products, etc.?
Although some industries need web scraping more than others at a certain level, all businesses require it. After the pandemic, it has become even more evident that companies using web scraping managed to overcome the crisis quickly and many even significantly increased the scale of their business operations. Another exciting aspect of web scraping is that it can be integrated with any workflow and even become a new sales channel or a method to analyze existing customer reviews or become your data agent in the internet and computer science world. Nevertheless, it’s not always as straightforward as it may sound, since it requires very complex research and analysis, as well as an ever-evolving approach. Everything is changing today, and it happens too fast, so to keep it up, you will probably need a team of experts who will handle everything for you and guarantee high-quality data, or you can have a simple tool created a couple of years ago which is already outdated and may even mislead in some instances. To boil it down, the demand is precisely what leads to form web scraping as an independent service.
Web Scraping as a Service
Web scraping as a service is no different from regular web scraping except that it’s completely customized to your needs. Imagine you need data, any data you desire, and now you can get it easier than ever before. Web scraping service is the pure conversion of your needs into technological reality. Here’s how it works: you describe what data you want. You dictate how frequently you would like to have it, maybe add something like formatting preferences to make sure it’s structured as you expect, and probably prefer some fancy delivery options like an API or cloud storage.
You can have it all, unlike regular scraping tools or any other type of extraction app. This time, everything is customized to suit your needs. And you can even make an exclusive request and be sure that you are the only one using it. If you want, you can also own it. Sometimes businesses want to develop everything and deploy it on their servers. That’s possible as well. If you can manually access something, then it can be automated. Just make sure it’s legal and doesn’t contain any specific personal information to avoid any legal discrepancies especially since, once the agreement is made, we take the whole legal responsibility. Actually, It’s not just about legal aspects but also an ethical one. If you are a business and want to overcome your competition, there is always a way and a very legal one. At a certain point, if you become confused and things get complicated, you can always contact us and let us know what you are looking for. We can arrange everything for you. The software development market size was valued at $ 429.59 billion for 2021 and is expected to grow to $911.77 billion by 2028 at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 11.8%. Those are massive numbers, and the only thing they represent is a simple desire to somehow become an industry leader business.
How Pandemic Transformed Industries
The Covid-19 outbreak has had severe economic consequences globally, and it does not look like the effects will be over quickly. This has an impact on more than just the economy; all of society is affected. As a result, businesses and consumers are behaving in completely new ways. This special issue represents a global effort to address some of the pandemic-related problems affecting society.
Due to the pandemic, many businesses were forced to close, causing unprecedented disruption in most industry sectors. Retailers and brands faced many short-term challenges, such as health and safety, the supply chain, labor, cash flow, consumer demand, sales, and marketing. Nonetheless, successfully overcoming these challenges didn’t guarantee a promising future or any future at all. After getting through a crisis such as a pandemic, we always emerge in a very different world than before the outbreak, just like after the financial crisis in 2008. All organizational functions are designed to prioritize and optimize spending or postpone duties depending on the environment they are dragged into. Companies, especially start-ups, may have put in place an indefinite hiring freeze. At the same time, online communication, online entertainment, and online shopping are seeing unprecedented growth.
Statistical Force of the Pandemic
National statistical offices in several countries compile online retail sales frequently. According to estimates in a UNCTAD report published on May 3, 2021, data for countries, which accounted for 65% of global B2C e-commerce in 2019, suggest that online retail sales as a share of total retail sales jumped by three percentage points in 2020 (from 16% to 19%) compared to a two-percentage-point rise between 2018-2019. Notably, Covid-19 generated an increase in demand for the online ordering of physical goods due to quarantine restrictions imposed in many countries.
The pandemic has driven businesses to employ technology to reinvent practically every aspect of their operations. Almost everything went online, from doctor’s appointments to schoolwork.
In some instances, the pandemic accelerated existing trends, such as contactless payments. In other cases, such as virtual reality, it changed the course of the industry and allowed companies to demonstrate the value that consumers could not see previously
Web Scraping in a New World
You can get just about everything today, but web scraping is a new world that can be a bit excessive, and I believe there is still a lot to learn in this field. But probably what digital science has taught us is that, even though businesses are based on fundamentals, the rules of the digital market can always change. Even enterprises are trying to catch up and not get lost between decision-making either by choosing this or that. The thing is that we all have too much information, and we have access to at least 1,200 petabytes of data. But still, it’s too hard to make a decision, let alone the right one. In my personal opinion, the more data we have, the harder it gets to choose the right path. That’s why, in most cases, we depend on our intuition and hope that it’s the right thing to do. It may be right, but what if something such as web scraping could provide all the options you need, even with the key indicators, so you can make a decision based on the facts and even make better predictions. The pandemic intensified perception of the data since that was the only thing we had for some time.
Data Extraction Potential and Benefits
In today’s world, web scraping can solve it all. Well, maybe not everything. Businesses still require day-to-day operations, but they don’t have to move forward blindly but instead get experts to guide them. It’s like having a cheat sheet about how to isolate the competition and find a way around staying one step ahead in the business by using trade advantages based on factual data. The significant difference after the pandemic is that now we have access to much more data.
The Global StorageSphere installed base of storage capacity reached 6.7ZB (ZettaByte) in 2020 and is steadily growing” said John Rydning, research vice president, IDC’s Global DataSphere. “Organizations should consider preparing now to store more data as they seek to achieve digital transformation milestones and improve business metrics by accelerating innovative data analytics initiatives.” – idc.com
More and more businesses are transforming and joining the digital market, and competition is growing almost exponentially. It’s time to implement modern applications and feed your business with live data insights. Using web scraping, it has finally become possible to automate most of the data needs and utilize ways of finding new customers, increasing customer retention, improving customer service, managing marketing efforts better, tracking social media interaction, predicting sales trends, and many more.
Where to Start? Conclusion or a Feature
Here, I would usually tell a story about how great it is to have a web scraping service and probably ask you to get in touch with us. But I understand that there might be a lot on your mind right now. You are probably somewhere in between making the decision of your lifetime, and the thing is, we all are. Every day, we make decisions that might impact the rest of our lives. We live in the future lacking flying cars, but we are flying through a massive amount of data. The smartest thing we can do is take a break, maybe even grab a coffee and go someplace we have never been before, with a friend we always wanted to reconnect with but never had time to. In the meantime, let the people whose best friends are LCD screens connected to high-end processors get things done for you. We are Datamam, a team of professional software developers, market researchers, and data analysts; our only goal is to make all the necessary data accessible to businesses that need it. We work with enterprises, but we also work with small and medium-sized companies because every business has a unique value. A value that no one else may possess, thus making us eager to learn more about you and understand how we can help.