Price monitoring services are increasing scraping risks for retail

What is price scraping?

A scraper bot or web scraper is a bot trying to precure, aggregate and parse data, publicly available or otherwise, from an internet-enabled source.

Not all web scrapers are bad bots. In fact, some are vital to business success. Good bot activity includes content scraping for display on aggregation sites or content scraping by affiliates to market your products and services.

Malicious web scrapers on the other hand can have the opposite effect. There are two frequently used types of web scraping: content theft and price scraping. This blog looks at price scrapers, which are most often used by price monitoring services to target the pricing information of a competitor to undercut rival business and increase sales.

The rise of price monitoring services

A rise in the availability of price monitoring services online has increased the risk of scraping for eCommerce businesses. Retailers need to drive traffic to their own site rather than a competitor, and this is where price scraping comes into play. Using price monitoring services automates what would otherwise be an arduous process of adjusting prices to compete. Instead, this data, which is readily available on the site, is scraped quickly and at high volumes making it a simple task to collect data and gain advantages over the competition.

These price monitoring services have grown in popularity and are readily available online, offering to track and get ahead of your competition easily and quickly. These services can collect huge amounts of data extremely quickly and this is where issues can begin to arise, with site infrastructures bowing to pressure caused by scraper bots.

The impact of scraping on eCommerce

Large eCommerce sites, popular retailers and those that stock a variety of products and brands are likely to be a target of scrapers from competitor price monitors. Multiple bots collecting large amounts of data will have an inevitable effect on a site.

What impact does scraping have on retailers?

  • Lost sales: Price scraping is a significant threat to retailers as their pricing strategies are exposed to competitors, while slowdowns leave shopping carts abandoned for a cheaper deal elsewhere.
  • Slow site: Serving requests to these bots uses up server resources, which can slow down or even crash a website, as well as pushing up infrastructure costs significantly for no commercial benefit.
  • Skewed analytics: Unless you have visibility over how much of your traffic is automated, scraper bots causing high volumes and velocity of traffic will lead to skewed analytics, whilst also affecting SEO and web authority rankings.
  • Brand damage: Losing sales and suffering a slow site – or worse, downtime – can lead to poor customer experience and potential brand damage. This is costly in fines from data protection organizations, and rectifying PR expenses.

Preventing price scraping

Scraper bots are becoming more sophisticated and increasingly difficult to detect as they imitate human interactions and price monitoring services become more popular. Basic detection tools are unable to keep up as evolving bad bots find new ways to scrape websites, easily bypassing traditional methods such as WAF solutions.

Retailers should implement a dedicated bot management solution to block bots and monitoring software that carry out price scraping.

Netacea Bot Management uses advanced machine learning techniques to detect scrapers and categorize them based on the scraping activity. Once the activity has been successfully identified, we combine information about the unique attack with data from a wide range of industry sources to prevent further scraping attacks.

Find out how much price scraping is costing your eCommerce website. Visit Netacea’s bot calculator today.


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