Easy Solutions for Data Collection

By: William He

The Internet is still often considered an amazing phenomenon by ordinary people. Even though it is now our constant companion and an inevitable part of everyday activities, we can't help wondering how things are done sometimes.
One such thing that struck me recently is was an online intermediary website that allowed visitors to compare the prices of various products at various shops and to access the contact details of the selected retailer. This is of course not some kind of a breakthrough development. Price comparison websites exist all over the world and are indeed a commodity enjoyed by millions of customers. However, one cannot help but wonder how all this data has been collected. Surely there is not a single person browsing hundreds of web pages and comparing prices?
Of course there is not.

Price comparison websites belong to the growing number of businesses that need to collect a lot of data from the internet in order to conduct their normal day-to-day activities. While some still try to do so manually, most companies now make use of the so-called 'web scrapers', or website crawlers, which are specialized software solutions for internet data localization, collection, storage, and update. So what do these solutions do?
The website crawler browses the web for specific keywords, as well as for result page content or search engine rankings. It then locates results from search engines, portals, or listings of input URLs. This is done as the website crawler navigates through complete websites, and then following static links and external links to other sites. Some web crawlers allow companies to archive and store results in a database, text file, or any other popular format.
Some software providers have gone even further than this stage, and offer specialized software solutions depending on the type of information that a given customer needs. For instance, the popular software provider Ficstar Software offers a special Contacts solution. The Contacts Grabber is a powerful, intuitive tool that enables businesses to quickly and easily collect results from online business directives, member listings, and other web pages that contain important contact information.
For price comparison websites, Ficstar offers another special solution - the e-commerce service, which allows the trouble-free and efficient collection of product details. There is therefore a very easy solution to something that looks as difficult and time-consuming as the collection of price entries for hundreds of products.

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