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Price scraping: How does it work and who is at risk?

By Netacea / 29th Jan 2021

Scraper bots are commonly used for price scraping and to scrape content from websites for competitive advantage. Aggressive scraper bot activity slows down websites for customers, resulting in a bad user experience that costs the retailer revenue as frustrated customers are driven to competitors, while exposing vital pricing data.

What is price scraping?

Price scraping is a technique used to extract pricing data from websites where bots search, find and copy the price data. Many websites use tools to prevent it

Price scraping is an illegal competitive price monitoring tool used to track other valuable information mainly used for e-commerce and travel sites. Competitors use this strategy to attract price-sensitive buyers by setting their prices lower than standard prices in the marketplace.

How does price scraping work?

The attackers can use a price scraping bot to maintain a real-time repository of the entire product catalogue whilst regularly tracking the price changes to keep their database updated with the latest pricing information of their competitors. Therefore, companies can use this  to raise their margins, cut expenses and ultimately display prices that increase their overall revenue.

The impact of price scraping in retail

Price scraping is one of the costliest bad bot threats to online retailers. They can jeopardize the overall security of e-commerce websites, customer loyalty and brand reputation. The more successful the retailer, the more likely they become a target of scraping.

Price scraping is a significant threat for e-commerce websites as their pricing strategies are exposed to competitors. Retailers can automate their scraping activity in large amounts, so their website automatically reflects the best price once analysing prices from competing sites.

While pricing information is generally available to customers, price scrapers illegally undercut competitors’ pricing and growth strategies. Price scraping can also result in skewed analytics, cart abandonment, and website slowdowns.

How to prevent price scraping

Retailers should choose to implement a dedicated bot management solution to block bots that carry out price scraping and other more serious attacks.

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

Find out how Netacea rapidly stops sophisticated web scraping such as content scraping and price scraping. See Netacea in action.

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