Web scraping is an automated method used to extract large amounts of data from websites. The data on the websites are unstructured. Web scraping helps collect these unstructured data and store it in a structured form. There are different ways to scrape websites such as online Services, APIs or writing your own code.
A file format is a standard way in which data is encoded for storage in a file. First, the file format specifies whether the file is a binary or ASCII file. Second, it shows how the data is organized. For example, comma-separated values (CSV) file format stores tabular data in plain text.
To identify a file format, you can usually look at the file extension to get an idea. For example, a file saved with name “Data” in “CSV” format will appear as “Data.csv”. By noticing “.csv” extension we can clearly identify that it is a “CSV” file and data is stored in a tabular format.
XML is otherwise called Extensible Markup Language. As the name proposes, it’s anything but a markup language. It has certain principles for encoding data. XML file format is a comprehensible and machine-lucid record format. XML is a self-enlightening language intended for sending data over the web. XML is basically the same as HTML, yet has a few contrasts. For instance, XML doesn’t utilize predefined labels as HTML.
In spreadsheet file format, data is stored in cells. Each cell is organized in rows and columns. A column in the spreadsheet file can have different types. For example, a column can be of string type, a date type or an integer type. Some of the most popular spreadsheet file formats are Comma Separated Values (CSV), Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet (xls) and Microsoft Excel Open XML Spreadsheet (xlsx).
Each line in CSV file represents an observation or commonly called a record. Each record may contain one or more fields which are separated by a comma.
Sometimes you may come across files where fields are not separated by using a comma but they are separated using tab. This file format is known as TSV (Tab Separated Values) file format.
Web scraping is the process of automating the process of data extraction in a fast and efficient manner. It implements the use of crawlers or robots that automatically scan specific pages on a website and extract the required information.
In this particular case, a web scraping software can browse through thousands of listings of your competitors’ products on an e-commerce site, and capture all the relevant details, like pricing, number of variants, customer reviews, etc., in a matter of few hours.
Not just that, it can even help extract data that is invisible to the naked eye or can’t be copy-pasted. Moreover, it can also take care of saving the extracted data in a meaningful and readable format. Usually, the extracted data is available in CSV format.
As you can see, web scraping can be a lot useful in extracting product data from e-commerce websites, no matter how large the data is.
web scrapers get better and more effective at extracting product data, the website admins are also coming up with creative ways of thwarting such attempts.
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