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Leveraging real-time data for a competitive edge in eCommerce

Tue 27 Feb 2024

Leveraging real-time data for a competitive edge in eCommerce

In this opinion piece, Lauris Lietavietis, Chief Sales Officer at Oxylabs, delves into the transformative power of real-time public web data in the ever-evolving landscape of eCommerce.

The competition in the digital marketplace has never been more intense. Lietavietis highlights the critical role of leveraging this vast ocean of data to gain a competitive edge.

As we look forward to his forthcoming presentation at Big Data & AI World in London, this article sets the stage for a deeper exploration of how businesses can harness the power of public web data to sculpt their strategies and achieve unparalleled success in the digital marketplace.

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Shopping online has been a growing trend for decades. Boosted by the pandemic a few years ago, retail e-commerce sales are estimated to have reached £4.5 trillion ($5.8 trillion) in 2023 and should grow by 39% until 2027.

According to Lauris Lietavietis, the Chief Sales Officer at web intelligence collection platform Oxylabs, the lion’s share of these sales goes to companies that efficiently leverage real-time eCommerce data.

His presentation at Big Data & AI World in London will provide insights into public web data usage in eCommerce, stemming from the hands-on experience of Oxylabs and their clients.

Lauris Lietavietis will deliver the talk ‘Using Real-Time Public Data for Competitive Advantage in E-Commerce’ at the conference on March 6th at 1:20pm.

Ahead of the presentation, Lietavietis discussed the importance of tracking competition and moving fast in today’s digital commerce.

The Changing Competitive Landscape of eCommerce

eCommerce has been getting more and more competitive since its very early days. Even now, it still grows at almost 10% rate year-over-year. It expands into all the niches and all the geographies.

In theory, digital shelves are infinite, which is great. However, soon, it becomes a challenge – consumers need to be able to find your products, and you need to place them right. In practice, this involves being informed about the competition, market trends, product availability, prices in various geographies, and making moves accordingly.

The Importance of Real-Time Data

All businesses use internal data, like revenue, customer dynamics, and customer feedback. Many businesses also use external, structured data such as research and public financial statements. However, there is still a lot of untapped potential hidden in the public web data, like product availability, prices, customer reviews, search rankings, and much more. Fewer companies leverage this type of data to gain a competitive advantage.

In the past several years, many eCommerce players have implemented and continue to implement algorithmic, dynamic pricing models.

Additionally, eCommerce has become hyper-localised not just at the country but also at the city and zip code level. As a result, for the eCommerce data to be actionable, it has to be location-based and real-time, or at least close to that.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage in eCommerce

The main ones are tracking and optimising assortment, dynamic pricing, and search rankings on online marketplaces.

For example, to be competitive, you will want to optimise your product information and pricing to appear higher on marketplace search results. For this purpose, you will need to monitor search placements in real-time, which involves collecting data on the products that appear on the first page in the prime spots. With this information, you can make immediate adjustments to become more visible at the strategically right time.

Remember that this is all location-based. eCommerce gives access to potential customers all over the world. With real-time data, our clients track these changes on a large scale, simultaneously identifying assortment gaps and opportunities in multiple markets.

There is much more to it, for instance, consumer sentiment monitoring, market share destination, and Minimum Advertised Price (MAP) monitoring. Opportunities are really endless. Thus, one could start from their current business challenges. Once those are identified, we can dig deeper into how the public web data can potentially help.

Ways to Acquire Valuable Data

There are good reasons to build your own tools for public data extraction. Namely, it gives you complete control and allows customisation. However, firms find it more difficult to build tools that can reliably acquire all the necessary data.

Some obstacles come naturally due to the complexity of digital commerce. For example, dynamic websites change their structure over time and depending on where you are connecting from. Thus, your scraper might not find data where it expects to, which could lead to halting or making mistakes.

On the other hand, more and better anti-bot measures are deliberately created by websites to make it harder to acquire information.

However, nowadays, it is not necessary to build scrapers in-house. There are infrastructure and technology providers out there; Oxylabs being one of them.

Depending on their appetite to invest and the complexity of needed data, businesses can choose how much to build in-house and how much to invest in external, ready-made solutions. Furthermore, they can choose to purchase ready-to-use datasets as well.

The bottom line often shows this investment to pay off for the data-driven companies. It is becoming increasingly necessary to use external insights to stay relevant against the competition in eCommerce. Firms that invest in data acquisition benefit from improved decision-making and better sales results.

The Role of AI

AI is relevant and interesting in two ways. First, we are using AI solutions in our products. Second, building AI tools requires a lot of data to train algorithms.

As an example of how we utilise AI in our products, we can take data parsing, in other words, getting structured data from unstructured data sets. Our AI-based adaptive parser automatically detects product data regardless of the website structure.

Plus, our Web Unblocker combines multiple AI capabilities to bypass sophisticated anti-bot measures. Together, they help our clients extract real-time data on a large scale and minimise potential hiccups.

As for the second point – our sales and account management teams are excited to be having more and more conversations with AI companies, learning about their field and how our solutions can help source public data ethically.

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