Businesses have always relied on data to make informed decisions. The more data that’s at your disposal, you’ll be able to see the bigger picture and make the right decisions to drive your business forward. However, collecting information manually takes a long time and introduces opportunities for human error and bias to affect the results of your collection efforts. So, how can businesses effectively collect data?
In this article, we take a look at different data collection methods. We’ll cover tracking, scraping, and even using open data. Keep reading to learn how an Amazon scraper can benefit your data-gathering activities alongside other methods.
Common Ways Businesses Collect Data
As we mentioned, manual data collection isn’t the most efficient way to gather information for your business. Manual efforts simply take too long, and human error and bias can severely skew the results of your collection efforts. As such, businesses have turned to two main collection methods, tracking and scraping, to collect the information they need.
Web tracking was a popular technique for businesses to collect information on their clients. Websites would enable tracking cookies for their website. Whenever someone visits the site, the tracking cookie is installed on their device, providing the website owner with all the other websites the user visits and how long they spend on these sites. This information can give businesses a better understanding of their target audience, their preferences, browsing habits, and more.
However, this information collection method has become less reliable in recent years, and its ethics is being questioned. Web tracking is considered an invasion of the user’s privacy. As such, websites and apps (which also have tracking features) need to disclose their tracking policy and what the data is used for, and the user can choose to decline cookies and tracking.
While many businesses and websites still use tracking methods, this is quickly becoming an outdated data collection method. You should also consider the risks it poses to your brand reputation if you decide to use this ethically questioned technique.
Web scraping is currently one of the most effective and efficient ways for businesses to collect data. To start using this method, you’ll need a web scraping tool and a proxy (ideally, a residential one). The Amazon scraper from Smartproxy is an example of such a tool that combines a powerful scraper with a proxy – saving you additional effort. This Amazon scraper can then collect specific information such as prices, product descriptions, and more across the platform within a few minutes. It returns the data in a spreadsheet or other preferred file format so that you can analyze the information for insights.
Scraping can be used to collect any public information. This is information that’s open for anyone to see without having to log in. However, everyone should be aware of some ethical dilemmas associated with web scraping. First, never try to scrape data that is protected by a login screen, as that’s not considered public. Also, the data you collect can be used for research and gathering insights. You cannot pass off any of this information as your own.
What is Open Data?
Open data is any information that anyone can freely share, use, and reuse without fear of copyright infringement. This means that anyone can use open data within their content, only referencing the original source.
The goal behind open data is to make information available to everyone. Many governments are starting to implement open data policies within their own content. They believe that having this information open and available to the public will improve community participation and understanding.
Open data also aims to support interoperability. Interoperability is the ability of diverse systems, such as governments and businesses, to work together to grow and improve relevant datasets.
How Can Open Data Transform Data Collection?
Open data makes it possible for businesses to have access to relevant data easily and without bypassing trademark or ethical regulations. Many websites that already implement an open data policy also have an API installed. This means that businesses that collect information can easily find everything through the API. This is beneficial to the website itself as things aren’t slowed down because of web scrapers and other collection tools collecting data.
Open data can be a win-win for businesses, governments, and internet users. Businesses are able to get high-quality data. Governments get access to improved and refined information and better cooperation with the public. Internet users can visit websites without experiencing slow speeds due to servers being overwhelmed by collection tools.
While there are a number of data collection methods businesses can use, including tracking, scraping, using open data, and even manually collecting information, some techniques are better than others. Tracking can have ethical implementations. Scraping by using an Amazon scraper or similar tool can be beneficial if you follow the right practices. Finally, using open data that’s available with an API is a great way to supplement your other collection methods.