I’ve been searching for a tool that will collect data on businesses within a certain market sector. I need something that is semi automatic, ethical, in continuous development, and with good support. So I’ve downloaded a copy of Octoparse and I’m now working through the tutorials while writing this Octoparse Web Scraper Review.
If you’ve searched for such tools yourself (or any other software for that matter) you’ve probably spotted that there are many that promise a great deal but which haven’t been updated for a year or more. There are fake reviews that are blatant affiliate promotion pages and there are one or two that look promising.
It’s time consuming finding the right product and you don’t know who to trust.
I should therefore be transparent and state that I’m writing this review because the team behind Octoparse are offering a free month of Pro subscription to anyone who writes a review. They didn’t say the review had to be a five star endorsement, just a review, so here’s mine.
I registered for a free account on their website and downloaded the trial copy. As soon as this was installed there was a notification of an update so the first thing I did was to update it to the latest copy. I find it a little reassuring that there’s a recent patch or upgrade.
The UI is pleasantly free from distractions and advertising. Like all new and unfamiliar pieces of software it takes a few minutes to navigate about but there are handy built-in tutorials or you can dive straight in and start a task.
There’s a wizard option to build tasks or you can go in advanced mode. I chose the wizard option as this is all new to me.
I set up the task and entered the URL that contained a list of companies with links to pages giving more details of each. I wanted to collect all the contact information for each company.
By clicking on example fields in the internal browser window the software quickly learns what to collect. The only niggle I had was capturing the company’s URL. Perhaps that’s my inexperience or a limitation in the trial copy.
Anyway, within a few minutes I had captured about 50 records and exported the data into an Excel spreadsheet.
Obviously this being the first attempt this took a little while but already I can see how the Octoparse Web Scraper will save me a lot of time. I need information from several pages of a directory. It’s not a lot but it’s a laborious processes to do it manually and consequently I tend to procrastinate or find other things to do.
This tool will save a lot of that time and effort, and I’ll be able to get on with using the information it gathers.
It’s easy to stray off the straight and narrow path when using tools like this that gather information. If someone has gone to all the trouble of building a web directory there is the potential for someone to scrape all the data and build a duplicate directory under another name. That of course would plagiarism and unethical, not to mention illegal.
However, data is published in directories so that others can find it and if you need to contact many companies within the same market sector then there’s no harm in saving some time and effort by gathering that data and putting it into a spreadsheet for future reference.
So my advice is:
The process of buying low and selling high dates back into ancient history. It’s as old as human civilisation itself. Merchandising and trade are one of life’s constants and the only things that change are the products and the tools. However, retail arbitrage is something relatively new and its existence is due to the technology and innovation that can be found in the online world.
In the world of retail arbitrage UK sellers have a smaller market that their US counterparts, but they should not think that they are the poorer cousins for it. Amazon’s reach is long and stock sent to UK fulfillment centres can be sold in Germany, Spain, Portugal, and elsewhere in Europe.
The UK is a smaller but different market. Developing expertise in this arena will equip Amazon sellers with the experience that will help hugely if and when they decide to branch out into the USA.
Simply put, retail arbitrage is the process of buying products from retailers and selling them yourself as a retailer at a higher price (e.g. on Amazon).
This is made possible by the fact that some retailers have excess stock they want to clear to make way for other products. It could also be due to the fact that the product sells so well on Amazon that the price has not been reduced due to the demand.
There may be other reasons, but the point is you can buy things from online shops, ship them to Amazon, and sell them at a profit, even after you’ve deducted the Amazon fees and shipping costs.
This provides an opportunity for Amazon sellers and merchants, but the tricky bit is finding the products. Not only that, you need to find them and buy them when they are in stock and before the price difference closes.
Profit Sourcery is a tool that does all the hard work for you. It is a browser based product research tool available on a three tiered subscription.
The tool collects all the data (freely provided by Amazon) relating to products, prices, seller rank, size, weight and much more It then analyses all this and presents the results on your own dashboard.
Each subscriber sees a unique set of products on his or her dashboard each day so you’re not competing with other Profit Sourcery subscribers.
Subscriptions are paid monthly. You can cancel or upgrade in your dashboard. There are no long term contracts and you can cancel at any time.
Using the online training provided by the Profit Sourcery team, and by reference to their extensive supporting documentation, you can quickly learn how to interpret the data and make good buying decisions.
If you get stuck, have any questions, or just want to give some feedback, you can send messages to the team through your dashboard. I can tell you from personal experience that they are usually quick to respond.
Once you get the hang of it you’ll see how your profits can be reinvested to buy ever increasing amounts of stock. The online business grows according to the pace and scale you choose.
However, my guess is that the people at Profit Sourcery will eventually limit the number of subscribers. There is mention of this in the video interview below with Ed Brooks (Profit Sourcery founder), so if you haven’t tried it yet I suggest you do so soon.
Sign up now for a free 7 day trial.