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The 2019 Indian general election results are right around the corner and the social media conversation on the election is at its peak. Goes without saying it reflects anticipation of the people of India at the moment. Being a web crawling company, we decided to put our expertise in data collection to use, by extracting tweets pertaining to two major competitors (NDA and UPA) and dug out some crucial insights from the social media chatter. Let’s get started.

Note: This data extraction activity was performed from 7th May to 14th May.

1. Frequently used hashtags

The most popular hashtag being used along with the mention of NDA is “nyay”. NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana) is the Minimum Income Guarantee Scheme for five crore poorest families, promised by the Congress Party in their 2019 election manifesto. Perhaps the messaging from the NDA has focused on discussing or criticising NYAY.

Hashtags- NDA

Other prominent hashtags are bjp, namoagain, namonamah, modiji, hargrahmodi and governmentjob. These hashtags indicate the social media support for Mr. Narendra Modi and the BJP party (the party that leads NDA).

Hashtags- UPA

Now let’s look at the popular hashtags associated with “UPA” tweets. The notable hashtags in UPA tweets are ‘bjp’, ‘nda’, ‘tcexitpoll’, ‘meriawazmericongress’, ‘rafale’, ‘rahul’ and ‘soniagandhi’. It’s evident that UPA has tried to leverage the controversy around Rafale. In the case of UPA, both Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi are being talked about unlike NDA, where only Modi gets all the social media attention.

2. Number of tweets

The number of tweets talking about NDA outranks UPA by almost 100%. However, it is wrong to assume that the number of tweets are a true metric of the actual interest for this party since paid campaigning has to be taken into account.

Number of tweets

3. Sentiment Analysis

Anticipation is the sentiment that stands out when it comes to tweets about NDA. Trust is also significantly higher as compared to the UPA tweets. Apart from these, the difference between positive sentiment and negative sentiment is relatively higher.

Sentiment- NDA

When it comes to UPA, we can see that the gap between positive and negative sentiments is shorter as compared to that of the NDA. This could indicate that the polarity of tweets about UPA are mixed in nature, whereas positive sentiment is way more overpowering in the NDA tweets. Fear is another sentiment which seems to be comparatively higher in the UPA tweets.

Sentiment – UPA

4. Word cloud

Given below are the word clouds pertaining to the tweet content for both of the keywords, i.e., UPA and NDA.

It is interesting to see that the tweets associated with UPA have significant number of mentions of BJP, NDA, and Modi. This suggests that the opposition party has focused a lot on the ruling government instead of building narrative around pressing issues or propagating their idea of India.

Wordcloud- UPA

However, we see that there has been references to topics around terrorism, security, and hinduism. Coming to the word cloud of the tweets associated with NDA, there are a lot of references to cities and locations.

Wordcloud- NDA

Conclusion

Judging from the Twitter data that we analysed, both the major competitors are aggressively pointing out each others mistakes. When it comes to the number of tweets and positive sentiment, NDA seems to be doing relatively better than their biggest nemesis. While the positive sentiment is overpowering in NDA tweets, the difference between positive sentiment and negative sentiment is relatively smaller in the case of UPA.

From our Twitter data analysis, NDA appears to have an clear edge over UPA in the Lok Sabha Election 2019. However, we can’t be sure until the results are out on 23rd of this month. Fingers crossed.

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The Growth Story of online sales

Ever since the inception of eCommerce, online shopping has been slowly but steadily eating into the share of brick and mortar stores. As per the latest US Census Bureau data, in the last quarter of 2018, the eCommerce sector made up only 9.9% of overall sales. However, the important fact is that growth in the eCommerce sector has been a steady one right from 4.0% in the first quarter of 2009, and has never seen a dip till now.

The reasons behind the continuous growth of eCommerce have been many:

  • Better availability of products.
  • More options to choose from.
  • Delivery options even in remote areas.
  • Faster 1 day, 2 days and even same day shipping in big cities.
  • Prices that retail stores cannot match.
  • Easy to compare items with similar products and better product information.
  • And obviously- the convenience.

Fig: Rise of eCommerce sales through latest quarterly retail sales in the USA.

Certain businesses have been most affected.

Some retail business categories have been affected more than others. While most people would still like to visit a store for trying out clothes and buying them, and almost no one would want to furnish their entire home with pieces of furniture without checking them out firsthand, items like books have become online hits. This has lead to the closing of many bookstores- the reason being the fact that most bookstores have to pay a premium for renting the store as well as incur other operational costs. Online booksellers, on the other hand, only need to pay for the warehouse space and the shipping. The competition simply isn’t viable and the prices of online sellers cannot be matched. At the same time, many people are opting for Kindle eBooks, so that they can carry hundreds of books in their bag at the same time.

Other categories like mobile phones, laptops and other smaller gadgets have also seen a monumental rise in online sales. Countries like India have seen online Cell-phone sales capturing as much as 50% of the entire market.

Some of the biggest businesses in the US have shut shop entirely or have closed many of their stores and let go of thousands of their employees. At the same time, businesses like FedEx and other courier companies are getting worried as big eCommerce giants like Amazon are starting their own delivery subsidiaries.

Here are some brands that have been most affected by eCommerce, or will be under fire in upcoming days.

1. Blockbuster

Most of us think of Netflix as the biggest Video Streaming giant today. But not long before, Netflix was delivering DVDs to people via mail, and taking on Blockbuster- a DVD outlet mega-chain that had 9000 stores in the US in 2004. What followed is history and Blockbuster stores all over the country shut shop slowly, unable to cope up with Netflix’s home-delivery model.

2. Barnes & Noble

One of the first casualties of the rising tide of eCommerce has been this book retailer, with more than 600 stores in the USA hit by online book sales as well as Kindle books capturing more than 15% of the total book market. B&N shares have plummeted almost 80% to just $5.95 in June 2018.  According to a Quartz report, Amazon plans to open one next-gen book-shop for every B&N that closes.

3. Macy’s

While the decline of this fashion mammoth has been on for a while, the likes of Amazon has hastened its fall. Stock prices are 45% down, and the latest Amazon Wardrobe service where you can try apparel before you buy has led to more fears among brick and mortar stores. Macy’s has plans to close up to 9 stores in 2019, to cut costs, whereas online sellers continue to rise in the fashion industry by coming up with better techniques to woo new customers.

4. Costco

One of the biggest American retail giants, Costco merged with Price Club and its 24-year subscriptions crossed 80 million. Seems huge? Well, Amazon Prime that launched as recently in 2005, already has 90 million active Prime members. As online sellers move more and more into groceries and fresh produce, by tying up, or buying smaller companies, the likes of bigger retails giants are likely to fall.

5. UPS and FedEx

One of the most unsuspecting business is about to be hit by eCommerce- freight. Amazon has bought 50 aeroplanes and is delivering its own cargo in many places. As per the reports, Amazon will now be competing directly with other logistics companies. As eCommerce companies start to rent out their own delivery arms to smaller businesses at pay-per-use models, the current logistics businesses will be hit hard. At the same time, many eCommerce companies are even testing delivery methods with drones so as to make deliveries faster and cheaper. All this technology makes traditional freight seem unattractive and costly.

Offline stores coming up with an online presence

As online stores come up with flashier ideas, offline stores are also starting to have an online presence so that customers find it easier to check out products, prices, place an order online, and more. Many offline shops are serving their neighbourhoods with doorstep deliveries to compete directly with eCommerce websites. Companies are also focusing on the overall shopping experience so that customers are willing to pay more for shopping at brick and mortar stores.

Are brick and mortar stores here to stay?

No matter how much online sales grow, customers would always prefer to walk into a shop, check out what they want to buy, and then get it instantly. The convenience is unparalleled and cannot be replicated by an online store. That is probably a big reason why eCommerce websites are opening offline stores in order to get closer to their customers. In the first quarter of 2018, the world’s biggest eCommerce giant Amazon reported revenue of $4.26B from its physical retails stores!

Reports like this, have shown that companies with a big online presence are opening offline stores to increase their online sales even faster. This is because customers can now put a face to the name and can actually try out some of the offerings in real time. This encourages them to buy more items online since they find themselves to be more familiar with the companies’ products. For example, suppose you wanted to buy a shirt from a company that sells its clothes only online. You might not be sure about the fittings and decide against it. But suppose you could go to a physical store of the same shirt company, try out a few shirts and get your sizes. Then you could order as many shirts as you want, and whenever you want, since you are already familiar with its shirts!

Conclusion

Brick and mortar stores have been there since the beginning of time and while online sales reduce the final cost of many items, and makes it more convenient for the next-gen shoppers, sometimes, physical stores are our go-to places. As for the future of the retail industry, only time will tell who gets to take a bigger piece of the pie.

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In the eyes of technology companies, the stock market is a huge database with millions of entries that get updated every single second. While there are many companies that do provide financial data of companies, it is usually through an API, and those APIs are never free. A trusted source of stock market data is Yahoo Finance. While Yahoo also has an API, it is paid. On the other hand, you can get the stock details of any company on its website for free (doesn’t even need you to be registered).

While it is immensely popular with people who keep track of the stock market, it has stood the test of time by surviving for 22 years, in a market where many big competitors like Google Finance failed. For those wanting to keep an eye out for the market, Yahoo also displays the latest news related to companies and the stock market.

Why scrape data from Yahoo Finance?

If you are working with stock market data, and require a free, clean, and a trusted source, Yahoo Finance is your best bet. The company-profile webpages are built in a uniform structure and if you write a script to scrape data from the financial page of Microsoft, the same script could also be used to scrape data from the financial page of Apple.

As for the installation and getting started, you can get those steps from a similar article, where we discussed how to scrape data from a leading hotel booking portal. Once you have installed python and other dependencies along with the code editor Atom, come back to this article, to read on.

Let’s get started with the code:

Once installation and setup stages are complete, we can go right into the code. The code is given further below and can be run using just the python command.

You can run the code in the manner shown above. When prompted, just enter the URL of the company whose financial summary you want to check. We have used the link for Microsoft.

#!/usr/bin/python
# -*- coding: utf-8 -*-
import urllib.request
import urllib.parse
import urllib.error
from bs4 import BeautifulSoup
import ssl
import json
import ast
import os
from urllib.request import Request, urlopen

# For ignoring SSL certificate errors
ctx = ssl.create_default_context()
ctx.check_hostname = False
ctx.verify_mode = ssl.CERT_NONE

# Input from the user
url = input('Enter Yahoo Finance Company Url- ')
# Making the website believe that you are accessing it using a Mozilla browser
req = Request(url, headers={'User-Agent': 'Mozilla/5.0'})
webpage = urlopen(req).read()
# Creating a BeautifulSoup object of the HTML page for easy extraction of data.

soup = BeautifulSoup(webpage, 'html.parser')
html = soup.prettify('utf-8')
company_json = {}
other_details = {}
for span in soup.findAll('span',
                         attrs={'class': 'Trsdu(0.3s) Trsdu(0.3s) Fw(b) Fz(36px) Mb(-4px) D(b)'
                         }):
    company_json['PRESENT_VALUE'] = span.text.strip()
for div in soup.findAll('div', attrs={'class': 'D(ib) Va(t)'}):
    for span in div.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        company_json['PRESENT_GROWTH'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'PREV_CLOSE-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['PREV_CLOSE'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'OPEN-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['OPEN'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'BID-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['BID'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'ASK-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['ASK'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'DAYS_RANGE-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['DAYS_RANGE'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td',
                       attrs={'data-test': 'FIFTY_TWO_WK_RANGE-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['FIFTY_TWO_WK_RANGE'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'TD_VOLUME-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['TD_VOLUME'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td',
                       attrs={'data-test': 'AVERAGE_VOLUME_3MONTH-value'
                       }):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['AVERAGE_VOLUME_3MONTH'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'MARKET_CAP-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['MARKET_CAP'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'BETA_3Y-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['BETA_3Y'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'PE_RATIO-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['PE_RATIO'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'EPS_RATIO-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['EPS_RATIO'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td', attrs={'data-test': 'EARNINGS_DATE-value'
                       }):
    other_details['EARNINGS_DATE'] = []
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['EARNINGS_DATE'].append(span.text.strip())
for td in soup.findAll('td',
                       attrs={'data-test': 'DIVIDEND_AND_YIELD-value'}):
    other_details['DIVIDEND_AND_YIELD'] = td.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td',
                       attrs={'data-test': 'EX_DIVIDEND_DATE-value'}):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['EX_DIVIDEND_DATE'] = span.text.strip()
for td in soup.findAll('td',
                       attrs={'data-test': 'ONE_YEAR_TARGET_PRICE-value'
                       }):
    for span in td.findAll('span', recursive=False):
        other_details['ONE_YEAR_TARGET_PRICE'] = span.text.strip()
company_json['OTHER_DETAILS'] = other_details
with open('data.json', 'w') as outfile:
    json.dump(company_json, outfile, indent=4)
print company_json
with open('output_file.html', 'wb') as file:
    file.write(html)
print '----------Extraction of data is complete. Check json file.----------'

Once you run the code and enter a company URL, you will see a json printed on your terminal. This json will also be saved to a file with the name “data.json” in your folder. For Microsoft, we obtained the following JSON:

{
    "PRESENT_GROWTH": "+1.31 (+0.67%)",
    "PRESENT_VALUE": "197.00",
    "PREV_CLOSE": "195.69",
    "OPEN": "196.45",
    "BID": "196.89 x 900",
    "ASK": "197.00 x 1400",
    "TD_VOLUME": "18,526,644",
    "AVERAGE_VOLUME_3MONTH": "29,962,082",
    "MARKET_CAP": "928.91B",
    "BETA_3Y": "0.91",
    "PE_RATIO": "16.25",
    "EPS_RATIO": "12.12",
    "EARNINGS_DATE": [
        "Apr 30, 2019"
    ],
    "DIVIDEND_AND_YIELD": "2.92 (1.50%)",
    "EX_DIVIDEND_DATE": "2019-02-08",
    "ONE_YEAR_TARGET_PRICE": "190.94"
}

For Apple, which has been making multiple losses of late, the JSON looked like this-


{
    "PRESENT_VALUE": "198.87",
    "PRESENT_GROWTH": "-0.08 (-0.04%)",
    "OTHER_DETAILS": {
        "PREV_CLOSE": "198.95",
        "OPEN": "199.20",
        "BID": "198.91 x 800",
        "ASK": "198.99 x 1000",
        "TD_VOLUME": "27,760,668",
        "AVERAGE_VOLUME_3MONTH": "28,641,896",
        "MARKET_CAP": "937.728B",
        "BETA_3Y": "0.91",
        "PE_RATIO": "16.41",
        "EPS_RATIO": "12.12",
        "EARNINGS_DATE": [
            "30 Apr 2019"
        ],
        "DIVIDEND_AND_YIELD": "2.92 (1.50%)",
        "EX_DIVIDEND_DATE": "2019-02-08",
        "ONE_YEAR_TARGET_PRICE": "193.12"
    }
}

You can do the same with any number of companies that you want and as frequently as you want to stay updated.

The crawler code explained:

Like previous scraping codes, in this one also, we first obtained the entire HTML file. From that, we identified the specific tags (with specific classes) that had the data we needed. This step was done manually for a single company details page. Once the specific tags and their respective classes were identified, we used beautiful soup to get those tags out, using our code. Then from each of those tags, we copied the necessary data into a variable called the company_json. This is the json that we eventually wrote into a JSON type file called data.json. You can see that we also saved the scraped HTML into a file called output_file.html in your local memory. This is done so that you can analyse the HTML page yourself and come up with other scraping techniques to scrape more data.

What data points can you scrape from Yahoo Finance?

You will be able to scrape different data points using this scraper. The present value and the present growth or fall percentage is of utmost importance. The other data points, when viewed together, present a better picture and helps one decide whether investing in the stock of a company would be a good idea or not. Looking at a snapshot of the data might not prove too effective though. Scraping the data at regular intervals and using a big dataset to predict future prices of stocks might serve to prove more useful in the long run.

Some other important data points that we captured:

PREV_CLOSE- It refers to the closing price of a stock on the previous day of trading. The prior day’s value of a stock refers only to the last closing price on a day when the stock market was open (not holidays).

OPEN- The opening price also referred to Open in short, is the starting price of a share on a trading day. For example, the opening price for any stock market on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) would be its price at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

BID & ASK-  Both the prices are quotes on a single share of the stock. Bid refers to the price that buyers are willing to pay for it whereas the ask is what sellers are willing to sell it for. The multiplier refers to the number of shares pending trade at their respective prices.

TD_VOLUME- It is simply the number of shares that changed hands during the day.    

PE_RATIO- Probably the most important single factor that investors look into, it is calculated by dividing the current market price of the stock of a company by the earnings per share of the company. Simply put it is the sum of money one is ready to pay for each rupee worth of the earnings of the company.

The reason why we explained some of the important data points is that we wanted you to know how deep you can dive into the financials of a company, just by scraping data from its Yahoo Finance page.

What other data can you scrape?

The data that we scraped are from the summary page of a company in Yahoo Finance. Each company also has a chart page, where you can see stock data for up to five years. While the data is not exactly very structured, being able to scrape it might give you a very good insight into the historical performance of the stocks of a company.

The statistics page gives you more than thirty different data points, over and above the ones we captured. These are in a structured format and can be scraped using a code similar to the one we provided.

The historical data contains data from the chart page, but in a format similar to a csv – you can easily extract the data and store it in a csv. Other pages like profile, financials, analysis, options, holders and sustainability might give you a good estimation of how the shares of the company will perform compared to its competitors.

Uses cases of Yahoo finance data:

Like we mentioned before, you can use the historical data to predict prices of stocks, or you could create an application that uses regularly updated data from your scraping engine to provide updates to users, as to when they should sell their stocks, or when they should buy more.

In case you have a small team and cannot decide how to get started with web scraping, you can take the help of a committed and experienced web scraping team like PromptCloud. Our web scraping requirement gathering dashboard makes submitting requirements, getting a quote, and finally getting the data in a plug and play format a simple and straightforward process.

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Web data integration simply refers to the process of aggregating and channelling data from different web sources into a single workflow (usually your business workflow), and if you are running a business that needs data, in today’s world web data is your best bet. The reason is that from 15.41 billion devices in 2015, today in 2019 we have 26.66 billion devices that are connected, and the numbers are supposed to reach 74.44 billion by 2025. The reason behind such a mammoth growth in devices that are connected to the internet and produce more data is that more and more types of devices are getting internet connectivity. It started with computers and laptops, but now mobile devices, tablets, home appliances, eReaders, autonomous vehicles and intelligent home assistants are all connected to the internet. This is resulting in a massive amount of data that is being generated, whereas a small percentage of this data is being used by companies. To put that into perspective, as per sources like this, 25 billion terabytes of data are produced every single day, of which only half of the structured data is used actively in decision making whereas only 1% of the unstructured data is used for any analytics whatsoever.

From healthcare to self-driving cars, all of these intelligent devices produce a ton of data easily available on the web. All you need to do is collect the data and store it in a format that is easily consumable by your decision making systems.

How can Web Data be integrated to your business?

Web data integration can be anywhere from simple to a huge challenge. In fact, the major reasons behind companies who left behind data on the table in 2018 were the fear of how to scrape data, and even above that- how to integrate the scraped data into existing systems. Companies get used to using the same software and decision systems over the years. Thus web data integration needs a serious commitment to data. However once you actually decide to mend your ways, you would find out that integration of web data is not really a horror movie and wouldn’t impact your business process like a hurricane.

The question is not just about what format you want your data in, but also how you want it to be delivered to you. While CSV, XML and JSON formats might be simple enough to understand, some of the data delivery methods are new in the market. Even then, these are easier to integrate, once understood. How you want your data delivered depends on the use case. Suppose you want users to be able to check the price of flight tickets, then you might let them hit third-party APIs, but when you want to conduct market research on which food items are lesser in demand in the winter, in that case, you might want the entire data in an S3 bucket, so that it can be used by your code to create graphs.

Advantages of Web Data Integration

No matter how hard or easy web data integration is for your company, you should do it if you want to stay in business in the long run. Airlines are deciding which new routes to add using web data. E-commerce sites are deciding what new items to sell using web data. Even fashion companies are deciding what designs to bring in for the next season by analysing web data.

The advantages that you have when you scrape and collect web data are the following-

  1. You have concrete evidence that can be used for any business decision you want to make.
  2. You get a better picture of what your competitors are doing.
  3. It is easier to decide prices for what you offer, be it products or services.
  4. Maintaining a better public image of the Brand is easier.
Challenges in Web Data Integration

Every technology change brings in difficulties that you must undertake to reap all the benefits. In the case of Web Data Integration, the main challenge lies in how to make changes in existing systems to consume web data. Most companies use machine learning or regression models that consume structured data and produce results. That in itself is a herculean task for a company that has not been using prediction models in its operations. However, such an in-house system would boost business capabilities tremendously and could be used for anything from shaping strategies to marketing and targeted advertising.

Different ways to integrate web data

At PromptCloud, there are different ways in which we can deliver the web data to you. Each way suits a specific purpose. Following are the data delivery methods that we support which will make web data integration easier for you.

PromptCloud API

If you do not need the entire scraped data at once, and instead need to see records based on certain index number, as and when required, it is better that you use API integration.

Amazon S3

This one is a popular service provided by Amazon AWS. It acts as a hard disk in the cloud. It is cheap and you can store data and access it from your code using proper authorization.

Dropbox and Box

These are two more popular data sharing cloud platforms. Both have their own security and other features. PromptCloud offers direct data upload to both these data storage platforms.

FTP

If your systems are configured to consume the data available on your own server space, we can push the extracted web data directly to your server via FTP. You just have to share your FTP credentials to enable this service.

How does PromptCloud make web data integration easier?

Every company has different requirements when it comes to web data integration. To solve problems of all such companies, we at PromptCloud, came up with CrawlBoard. CrawlBoard is a DaaS- that is Data as a Service platform designed to make web data integration easier for businesses. We take care of several hurdles via CrawlBoard:

  1. Issues faced while scraping the data.
  2. Cleaning the data.
  3. Structuring the data into consumable formats.
  4. Providing you with the data in the preferred delivery method.

Once you sign up and log in, you can submit all your details in the interface. Details would include your company name, website links and data fields that need to be scraped.

The figure above shows how the CrawlBoard interface has revolutionised the way companies provide their requirements for web scraping.

In the delivery details page, you are asked the type of crawl, the format (JSON, CSV or XML), the frequency and what is the delivery method that you would like to use. As you can see in the picture, our own API is completely free while you can also choose other options like S3, Dropbox, Box and FTP.

Whether you get a DaaS provider or build your own Web Scraping team, it’s high time that you get your web data integration fixed to run in sync with your business decisions. In a year or two, it will be too late, and you’d become another Blockbuster, demolished by a Netflix.

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The eCommerce sector is booming. What started with doorstep delivery of books, has now changed the way people shop. Today, everything from cakes and flowers to large appliances like washing machines is delivered right at your doorstep. Along with the top players like Amazon and eBay, there are thousands of local players that operate in specific regions around the globe and focus on niche products. For most of them, setting up on-site servers, or tying up with warehouse and delivery partners prove to be a difficult task. Smaller companies with fewer than tenC full-time employees, find it difficult to even build and maintain websites. Customer care woes, packaging and delivery, and handling returns are also harder and costlier for small or mid-size eCommerce companies since they cannot provide the bulk orders required for lower service charges by delivery partners, warehouses and other service providers.

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

The online boom was first predicted by Amazon, and that’s why it launched its Amazon Web Services Inc, its on-demand web services platform, way back in 2006. Although Google and Microsoft are also top competitors in this field (along with many smaller providers), Amazon AWS has a huge advantage of being the first to build cloud infrastructure and has a huge dominance in the sector. From Dow Jones to Airbnb, everyone is using Amazon AWS to make sure that setting up and maintaining business infrastructure is easier.

AWS services used by eCommerce companies: 1. Amazon EC2

Having on-site servers has become a thing of the past. The reasons behind this are many-

  • Setting up the hardware infrastructure would take days if not weeks.
  • Installing OS and other dependencies (as well as updating and maintaining them) would take extra effort.
  • In case of sudden need for extra resources due to a rise in customer usage, it would take considerable time to upgrade existing infrastructure.
  • Even if you need 8 processors only during the peak 1 hour of a day, you would be paying for all of them, since you’re buying them altogether.

Hence most websites, today use EC2 instances on AWS to set up their servers. The biggest benefits that eCommerce sites gain on using EC2 instances is that they are charged as per usage, and at times of peak usage, extra resources are automatically allotted to them, and the charges are higher only during the peak usage time.

2. Amazon RDS

While an EC2 helps you set up a managed server in the cloud, Amazon RDS helps you set up a managed database in the cloud. Database options range from Amazon Aurora, MySQL, PostgreSQL, MariaDB and more.  

3. Amazon S3

In addition to databases and servers, there’s also a need for storage space on the cloud. This might be for various reasons- to store product images, product videos, customer information, and more.

For this, AWS has its S3 service that is charged at only $0.023/50TB per month, after the free layer of 5GB. The plus side is that it guarantees a 99.99% availability throughout the year and durability of 99.999999999% of objects across multiple Availability Zones.

4. Amazon SNS

Notifications have become a vital part of the eCommerce industry. Whether you want to notify a customer that his order has been shipped, or a partner that a product needs to be packed and ready, or your developer team that a country-specific website is down, notifications are the key to communications. Amazon SNS makes it easier by providing you with different types of notification services across your website.

5. Amazon Lambda

Serverless architecture has been the buzzword for some time now. And Amazon Lambda is a way of writing serverless code. It helps you run your code without managing or provisioning servers. You run your code and AWS scales it from tens of requests per day to thousands of them per second based on the need. Like any other service, this one is also charged based on usage only.

Amazon marketplace services

Amazon Marketplace is a place for companies that do not have their own websites but want to reach out to a wider audience. Companies selling on Amazon have two options- FBM (fulfilment by merchant) or FBA (fulfilment by Amazon). In recent years, manufacturing has seen huge growth, and third-party sellers are selling both used and new goods across Amazon, accessing Amazon’s huge customer base, at nominal pricing.

1. FBA (Fulfilment by Amazon)

Like we mentioned before, under Amazon Marketplace, sellers can opt for the FBA or fulfilment by Amazon. Under this, Amazon will pick, pack and ship your products. Amazon’s fulfilment centres will be processing your orders.

You will be availing multiple benefits-

  • All your products will be eligible under Amazon Prime. That means free two-day shipping and other benefits for all prime members when they buy your products.
  • Amazon also handles all returns, so that your business can run smoothly without having to worry about the logistics.
  • All your products will be displayed along with the Amazon Prime logo so that people feel that your items are safe to buy since they will be covered under Amazon’s prime guarantees.
  • Along with the logistics, Amazon will also be handling customer service for you, so that you do not need to worry about having your own call centre or hiring an agency for the service.
  • There is no limit to the number of products you can sell and Amazon’s fulfilment centres are built to scale. On top of that, on registering for an Amazon.com seller account you automatically can sell in marketplaces of Canada and Mexico too.
  • The pay-per-usage policy makes sure that you are charged only as per the storage space used by your products and the number of orders fulfilled.
2. Advertising services

Amazon’s advertising services are not just for businesses that sell on Amazon but for any brand that wants its advertisement to reach its huge customer base. If you are already selling your products on Amazon but need better visibility, you could use Amazon Ads that appear based on certain search results on product pages. You could also make your logo and a customized banner visible for search result pages of certain keywords.

In case you are a big electronics or apparel brand, you could even have your very own multi-page brand store on Amazon. Whether you sell on Amazon or not, you can buy both video or text-based advertisements on different areas of Amazon webpages.

3. Amazon Pay

Accepting payments is a major hassle for most eCommerce companies. And most companies have started to add other payment options, like e-wallets along with traditional card payment options in their checkout pages.

The benefits of using Amazon Pay in your eCommerce website is that millions of Amazon customers already use the Amazon Pay wallet and they would not think twice or worry about paying at some new website because they will have their trust on Amazon Pay.

Using Amazon Pay would also reduce drops at checkouts due to a one-click payment option, and would lead to increased conversions.

Conclusion

Third-party sellers on Amazon have been increasing at a massive pace. Currently, they capture more than 50% of the total sales on Amazon. At the same time, Amazon is also trying to boost other companies that do not sell on its marketplace by providing them with various services. So in case, you are running an eCommerce website or even a startup that needs any of the services that we mentioned, it’s better that you use existing services instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

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Becoming a successful business is a lot about tracking metrics and making sure that you learn from your mistakes as fast as possible to make the required changes so that you are not left behind in the mad race. Being one of the biggest business sectors of our times, eCommerce is no different. In fact, being a completely technology-driven business, tracking metrics is easier and important for all e-commerce companies who want to make sure that they outlive their competition.

Here are fifteen key metrics that we think are essential to be tracked by every e-commerce company:

1. Sales conversion rate:

If a thousand people visit your website per month, but only 1 among them makes a purchase, then your sales conversion rate is 0.001 (1/1000), which is alarmingly low. Tracking sales conversion rate is one of the most important factors because even if you are having enough sales, and customer visits are rising, a really low conversion rate would mean you are doing several things wrong, the most important among them being that you are driving away a huge percentage of all visitors. Tracking sales conversion has become simpler with tools such as Google Analytics.

2. Customer acquisition cost:

Another key metric that is usually overlooked but is of immense value to both the stakeholders and internal marketing team, is the customer acquisition cost or the CAC. CAC can be calculated just by dividing the total spending on marketing and advertisement over a period of time by the number of customers acquired during that period. Say, if you spent $10000 over a period of six months, and were able to acquire 100000 customers, then your CAC would be $0.1 (10000/100000), that is you spent $0.1 per customer. The problems with calculating CAC is that often results of marketing campaigns take time to show. Advertisements running in a particular month might draw more customers in the following months. This may be due to word of mouth, late customer reaction, the upcoming holiday season, etc.

3. Revenue by traffic source:

Marketing efforts can go to waste if you do not know where to spend your marketing dollars, and what would be a better way to analyze that than getting your revenue by traffic source metrics. The benefits of these metrics are that you would not only know which sources are bringing in more hits, but also that which sources are seeing higher conversion rates. For example, it could happen that 1000 people visit your website via affiliate marketing websites daily, of which only 90 make a purchase, whereas, almost 90 of the 100 visitors from Google ads make a purchase on your website daily. Such numbers would help you understand which clicks are more valuable and which ones you should pay more for. The downside with these metrics is that certain sources like referrals and organic hits might be difficult to track.

4. Conversion of New vs Returning Customers:

Getting a new customer is important, but retaining your older ones is even more. This is because when more old customers keep using your website, they are bound to spread the word, and in a way, this would also mean that whoever uses your website, is happy with how it works. Also, customer retention increases the lifetime value of customers. Only focusing on getting new customers would increase customer acquisition costs and shift focus from quality to quantity. Conversion figures of new vs returning customers need to be tracked to make sure that existing customers are happy.

5. Conversion by device type:

Browsing the internet no more means bulky laptops, and people are browsing the internet from a variety of devices today. Among them, mobile devices are the single fastest growing means to access the internet. Low cost and more accessible mobile data are bringing about this change. Conversion rates by device type would help you understand whether your site needs to be optimized for a particular type of device, or devices with smaller screen size, or places with a slower internet connection, etc.

6. Track cart abandonment:

Cart abandonment is the biggest nightmare of all eCommerce companies. But the figures can be brought down if you can figure out that at which stages maximum cart abandonment occurs. This way, you can focus on improving the customer experience at that particular stage and see if cart abandonment at that stage goes down. For example, having a location tracking service, instead of making a customer type his/her entire address may lower cart abandonment at the stage of address fill-up. But for such decisions to be made, stage-wise metrics on cart abandonment are vital.

7. Track Percentage of Returning Customers:

Returning customers are a boon for the eCommerce sector. This is because you do not have to spend extra to re-acquire them, and also because you have become their Google search for products – their default eCommerce website. Tracking the number of customers who return to make more purchases would help you understand how many customers plan to use your website in the long run – and did not use it only for a one time order.

8. Average Order Value:

The average order value is another metric that can help in several decision-making procedures. It is calculated simply by dividing your total revenue by the number of orders. For example, whether you want to bear the shipping cost, or pass it on to customers might depend on your average order value. If your AOV is $100, then you might be fine with bearing the shipping cost, but if your AOV is $5, you might want to pass on the shipping costs to avoid running a loss. AOV also helps in deciding on your future marketing strategies and how to focus on increasing per order value.

9. Lifetime Value of the Customer:

Also called CLV or customer lifetime value, this is a complex metric that helps compute the revenue brought in by a customer, after subtracting acquisition costs. It also takes into account, the number of visits by a customer and his/her average spends per visit. This metric is used mainly for targeted marketing to increase CLV for existing customers.

10. Customer Retention Rates:

Another metric which deals with the importance of existing customers, customer retention rate helps companies understand that what percentage of users on a website, are regular users, and what percentage is a one-time user. The higher the percentage of the former, the better.

11. Average order size:

While average order value deals with the price associated with every order, average order size deals with the number of items customers buy together in a single order. A higher figure would mean that cross-selling efforts and recommendation engine results are paying off, and people are adding more items to a single order. A higher average order size reduces shipping costs and increases profitability.

12. Email engagement metrics:

Email engagement still remains one of the cheapest and best ways to engage more customers. Sending regular emails of new and upcoming products or emails for abandoned carts are not new. But tracking how many of these emails actually bear fruit is important to analyze which type of emails are working, and which ones aren’t, whether to change the tone of emails, whether to include images in emails, etc.

13. Google Search Performance:

Your performance on Google Search reflects how SEO optimized your website is, and whether you are able to drive organic hits to your website. Certain terms are important in this metric. The number of impressions stands for the number of times your website URLs were shown as a result of something being searched. On the other hand, clicks refer to the number of people who actually clicked on the links to your website, that appeared in search results. Both of the metrics are valuable parameters for your marketing team to compute your website’s Google Search Performance.

14. Social Media conversion rate:

A rather new metric, but one that is very important in the modern era, Social Media Conversion rate measures the number of customers who have ended up from your social media advertisements, or posts to your website, and have ended up making a sale. What’s the use of having 10000 followers on your Instagram page, if none of them ever visit your website or make a purchase?

15. Number of Transactions:

The daily, hourly, weekly, monthly and yearly transaction records can show trends in the data that are invisible to the human eye. Trends like what time of the day is traffic the highest or which months usually see slumped sales, etc can be understood with this metric.

Starting a company is a mammoth task in itself, but keeping it running efficiently is even harder. If you are working for an e-commerce site, or are thinking of starting one, these metrics would help you keep track on your performance as you scale.

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What are Pricing Benchmarks?

Let’s drive this home with an example. Say you decided to open a retail shop and sell stationery items. But you overpriced your wares and got no customers. The main reason was the presence of another stationary shop right down the street. By the time, you got your prices right, word had already gone around as to how overpriced your shop was and people simply refused to visit you again. This mishap could have easily been avoided if you used pricing benchmarks to find the sweet spot and priced your wares accordingly. Getting your prices right is very important in today’s competitive market where both online and offline stores battle it out to win over new customers.

When and how to use pricing benchmarks?

Pricing Benchmarks are important when you are entering a new market. You can join the sector with competitive prices, get your customers hooked to your product, and then slowly raise your prices so as to stand out in the crowd, with your superior offering. In case you are dealing in luxury items, or you are selling something unique, you can skip the benchmarking since you will be creating a class of your own. However, for most new businesses as well as businesses trying to get more customers to join the following, it is better to use pricing benchmarks.

The process of application of pricing benchmarks is rather simple. First, decide on who your competitors are. Are they only brick and mortar stores? Are they online retailers? Or are they both? Depending on who your competitors are, you will need to extract pricing data from their websites or shops, and analyze them. After analyzing the data you have understood what is the discount rates offered across different categories and brands. Accordingly, you will have to set the prices of your goods. This three-stage process of pricing benchmark will act as a very effective competitor-based pricing strategy.

However, today pricing benchmarks might be tricky due to certain factors-
  1. Many stores (online or offline), update their prices regularly depending on market factors and availability. You will have to keep updating your data sources to make sure that you remain competitive and also not undersell your wares.
  2. Data gathering from online sources is not a simple task when we are talking of millions of products across thousands of subcategories. You will have to use web scraping techniques with the help of experienced data providers like PromptCloud so as to get a good picture of the online pricing strategies.
  3. Automating various data collection and analytics based processes will help make the decision making cycle much smaller and help you concentrate more on your core business. Thus automation plays a very important role as well.
But then, going through so many hardships has many benefits-
  1. Automation of various analytical and web scraping services will, in turn, save your time as we mentioned above.
  2. Ideal pricing will be easier to determine through the use of technology.
  3. Entering new markets or expanding into new categories will be easier since you will already be having a well-painted picture of their pricing benchmarks.
  4. You will be able to optimize pricing by making money on the whole, even if you lose out on some items.
How are the prices of online retailers affecting existing benchmark processes for retailers?

Pricing benchmarks used to be much simpler a decade back but the rise of online retailers has changed the rules forever. Whereas competing with an online retailer might be difficult for brick and mortar stores, you could to a certain extent match your prices and make up for the rest with a customer service that makes customers revisit you. Market intelligence gathered from online sellers also cause customers to negotiate prices at offline stores. In such scenarios, you will have to look at the total sale value and decide on your margins.

Can web-scraping work as an easy solution to update your Price Benchmarking processes?

For most online, or even offline retail businesses, pricing benchmarks are done manually and are not very accurate. However, when you start using web-scraping as a source of data for your niche category of products, you can be pretty sure of the trends and pricing strategies that seem to emerge. Web scraping not only gets you the prices that competitors are using but also prices on other websites, such as the manufacturers, or blog sites. Many online portals also show a change in the price of items over a period of time. This data can be analyzed by you to decide on which items you should yourself stock on, and sell later at a profit.

Public outlook on what the price of an item should be also play a major role in the pricing strategies. Say you want to manufacture and sell your own brand of yoga mats, and you find that most yoga mats on sale are made of PVC and sell at around $20 – $30. However, on scraping the comments sections, you realize that customers want rubber yoga mats even if they cost a few dollars more. So you go on to make and sell rubber ones at $35. This way you do price your goods higher than the market, but then by understanding customer sentiments, you are able to create your very own pricing benchmarks. Hence pricing benchmarks don’t always mean matching the prices set by competitors but also setting prices that will be acceptable to your customers based on the quality that you offer.

Conclusion

Pricing Benchmarks are an important business strategy that both online and offline stores will have to master in order to co-exist in the same ecosystem, and the companies who are able to master the process more efficiently by spending lesser dollars, through automation and web-scraping, will be the ones that more customers flock to.

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Data mining and what it is solving today

Data mining is an interdisciplinary topic which encapsulates Machine Learning, Statistics as well as Database Systems. Data mining would have been a mathematical subject had we been able to find trends in large datasets using a pen and paper. Unfortunately, the computations involved are too massive and that is why we need a computer to find the hidden answers lying in our data. In the Venn diagram below, the area in the very middle, where the three topics intersect is where Data mining lies. But the diagram does not talk about an important factor that is even more necessary for data mining, one that we will soon find out

When undertaking projects involving data mining, people tend to get lost in the maths, the algorithms and the computations involved. Even setting up the infrastructure itself (be it on-site or in the cloud), takes considerable time and effort. Often the most important aspect lies forgotten until a later point of time- the “data”.

Data Mining finds multiple uses today-

  • Plagiarism checks
  • Sentiment analysis from social media data
  • Monitoring discussions in online forums (for national security)
  • Fake News Recognition
  • Business intelligence

… and more

Web scraping to collect data

These are some of the latest challenges that data is being used to overcome these days and the one thing common that you might have spotted is that all of these require web-data. Web data is huge and is growing at a really humongous rate. As per this article, the Washington Post estimates that there are 305,500,000,000 pages online at the moment. However, you don’t need to worry about so many pages. You could use web scraping techniques to scrape a few thousand pages and extract their data to find answers to the problem statement that your team is facing.  Web scraping for data mining is a complete and foolproof solution unlike other sources of data. Also, there are minimal chances of web-data falling short of your requirements, because of the sheer amount of data present. This in turn might seem hard to handle it first, but you can pick and chose the web pages, or data streams that are best suited for your study, and later on add to it as you deem suitable.

Implementing Web Scraping as the first step of Data Mining

Web Scraping to build large datasets, that you can in turn use for data mining, used to be a lengthy process in the early age of computers when people used to copy-paste text. But with the help of automated scrapers and scraping bots, the time taken to build your database and to keep it updated has gone down considerably. Whereas building a new team can be a lengthy process, several DaaS providers like PromptCloud do exist in the market today, who can act as a bridge between you and the data you need for your research. A downside of web-scraping can be un-structured data- text, images, videos, audio, and more. However, using intelligent scrapers different forms of data can be segregated and stored in separate databases or S3 containers so that they are available in plug and play formats and easily usable by the Data Mining Engine.

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Web crawling has become a must-have tool to stay relevant in this competitive and highly volatile market which is unforgiving of mistakes. A few notable ones among the countless applications of web crawling are Natural Language Processing, Brand Monitoring, Price tracking, and Competitor Monitoring. With this rising need to have the ability to crawl the web, businesses are now looking at different ways to go about web scraping.

We agree it can be a really confusing feat given web scraping being still in its nascent stages of adoption. We have even come up with a framework to help you make an informed decision while on the lookout for ways to scrape the web. The options range from DIY tools to fully managed web scraping solutions like ours.

However, we will be talking about in-house crawling in particular here. One of the major issues faced by companies that have set up an in-house crawling team is the scale and customization aspect of their homegrown solution. This is typical because web crawling is a domain of its own which needs special expertise and technical resources. If you have somehow taken up the challenging path of in-house extraction, worry not as we are happy to share some tips to help you succeed.

Update your tech know-how 

When it comes to the web, things are always changing. The standards are not fixed and websites might use their proprietary techniques to improve user experience which could pose a challenge to the crawlers. A good example is the AJAX-based “Load More” buttons you see on many websites nowadays. While these advancements are great from a normal user’s point of view, web crawlers will have a tough time adapting.

This brings us to the most important aspect of scaling your in-house web crawling capabilities – updating your technical know-how. It’s imperative to be up to speed with the technical advancements concerning the world wide web. While this automatically comes to you if you’ve been in the web crawling space for long enough, companies that have just set up an in-house team for crawling will have to start from scratch. Another roadblock that likely affects the scale of your operations is the blocking mechanism used by websites to discourage automated crawling.

If your target site blocks aggressively, you’ll have to come up with workarounds either by limiting the frequency of requests to an acceptable one, using proxies, mimicking a real user in terms of behavior or more. Once you have the tech know-how to deal with these unforeseen issues while crawling the web, you will be able to scale your crawling process with some stability.

Invest in a larger crawling team

As a DaaS provider, we have come to realize that no matter how much you automate the processes, web crawling will always (until the arrival of a full-fledged AI) require a lot of human intervention. This is why having a larger team is crucial to keep your crawling systems running in good health. Web crawling is also a time-sensitive domain, meaning you can miss out on important data even if your crawler has been down for only 5 minutes. However, you might want to make sure the ROI from web scraping outweighs the total spend on your in-house web crawling team. This is one of the primary reasons why many of our existing clients moved away from in-house crawling to our managed web data extraction services.

Invest in a good tech stack which involves all components

While the term web crawling might make it sound like a straightforward process, there are so many steps involved between sending get requests to a server and deriving the data in a usable format for consumption. Following are the necessary components of a scalable web crawling setup.

1. HTTP Fetcher: This will extract the webpages from the target site servers. The fetching component is basically the system which has been programmed to navigate through the site and fetch the necessary pages in an orderly format. The anti-blocking mechanisms developed for a site usually docks to the fetcher.

2. Dedup: This makes sure that the same content is not extracted more than once. Deduplication improves the quality of the output data to a great extent by removing duplicate data points.

3. Extractor: URL retrieval system from external links.

4. URL Queue Manager: This lines up and prioritizes the URLs to be fetched and parsed.

5. Database: The place where the data extracted by web scraping will be stored for further processing or analysis.

Optimizing the components for maximum scalability

The constant need for optimizing the crawling infrastructure is something that most businesses overlook. As we discussed earlier, the dynamic nature of the web causes the crawlers to become obsolete from time to time. Keeping up with this pace and optimizing your system to match the increasing complexity of the web is something that cannot be stressed enough.

Bottom line

As you have probably figured out by now, a scalable web scraping system has to be one that includes specialized components to take care of different stages of crawling. Not to forget, the tech-know-how of your team and the team strength will also play a huge part in how scalable your setup turns out to be. If you’d rather not endure the challenges of in-house crawling, you could instead switch to a managed service provider like PromptCloud. Being a fully managed service, we take end-to-end ownership of all the stages in crawling and deliver the data in a ready-to-use format.

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Building an eCommerce business is not a piece of cake, but do you know what is even more difficult than flagging off an eCommerce website? Boosting its sales. Here, we will be talking about twenty actionable tactics that you could use to boost your eCommerce sales:

1. Intelligent advertising

Advertising does not always mean spending a huge amount of money. You could use social media advertising only towards your targeted audience to reduce costs, and also rely on SEO friendly content on your site to bring in more organic hits. A growing number of websites are using structured data on their websites and also bringing newer changes so as to get better scores when indexed by search engines like Google.

2. Build Brand awareness

Being an eCommerce site is not enough in the long run. You may need funding after functioning for a period of time. You might need more organic hits, which can only be possible through your name spreading through “word of mouth”. All this would be feasible if you are able to convert your eCommerce site into a brand that people can relate to when discussing certain products. This can be possible by sponsoring certain events, or holding your own events, or participating in tech meets, and finding better ways to reach out to the larger crowd.

3. Have better product descriptions, images, and even videos when necessary

We have all gone to websites, where we did not find enough detailed information about the product that we wanted to buy. It always happens for one item or the other. This results in customers moving to a different website or buying products from a brick and mortar shop where they can get a better visualisation and feel of the goods before buying it. The only way to combat such a scenario is to have better item description and details so that you never lose a customer for lack of his understanding of a product from its description.

4. Have a PR team that uses web data

Having a PR team is a must when you are trying to build a brand. And the team needs to have a constant check on any content that is being posted online, which is connected to your brand name. The team needs to focus on managing untoward incidents and scenarios that might tarnish your image. Disgruntled customers often take to social media to rant against brands and in the age of digital media, even post images and other proofs supporting their statements. One such incident might blow to epic proportions and strike big damage to your company. Finding amicable solutions to such instances would be the prime job of a PR team.

5. Focus on your niche

“Move fast and break things.” is something you do not want to do in the eCommerce sector. Selling everything and competing with Amazon who has its own aeroplanes would be a silly risk to take on. It is better. that you focus on your niche products, so that customer can have a sense of faith that for a specific line of products, they can always count on you.

6. Make the checkout process easier

Studies have shown that a staggering 70% of all online carts are abandoned. Of the mere 30%  that is left, 50% is again abandoned at checkout. As an avid user of eCommerce websites, I would say that the 50% figure is mainly due to the horrible checkout experience in most eCommerce websites (even the popular ones). Some of the common issues faced during checkout are:

  • Item is unavailable.
  • Item cannot be delivered to the location that you have chosen.
  • Extra delivery fee added to the final bill.
  • Extra tax/other charges added to the final bill.
  • Higher shipping time is shown in the final checkout page

And these are some of the many problems that millions of Ecommerce users face every day.

While all of these issues are understandable, all of them can be mitigated by making the customer aware of the extra charges, and shipping charges and all the other information even before he/she ends up in the checkout page. This is because on finding these extra unhappy titbits of info in the final page, one feels cheated and leaves the cart immediately.

7. Increase customer trust

Increasing customer trust in your brand name is a never-ending process. By listening to every grievance, and making sure that no untoward issue gets overlooked without the customer receiving proper compensation, you could build a trust factor, due to which customers would be ready to pay an extra dollar, just for your “better-than-average” service methods.

8. Showcase top products

Selling 1000 cellphones of the same model is better than selling 5 of 50. This is important in eCommerce. Having more products means more warehouse space, more advertisements, and more costs. It is better for eCommerce sites to focus on the most popular and the best quality products (focusing on the old proven concept of quality, not quantity). This will help bring down operational costs and also make it easier for customers to find the products they are looking for more easily.

9. Have more transparent shipping costs

Shipping costs are normal, but when you add them at the end of the checkout process, all of a sudden, the customer feels cheated. It is better, that the shipping cost for every product be shown below its price itself so that customers are not in for a surprise in the final stage and end up abandoning the cart.

10. Cross Sell

Cross-selling is a technique used by eCommerce sites all over the globe to increase per order value. The basic logic behind this is when someone adds a product to his/her shopping cart, display some other products that go well with the first product. For example, if someone adds a mobile phone to one’s shopping cart and you show him phone cases and screen guards, the person is likely to buy them too. Using such techniques you can increase per order value and lower your operational costs considerably.

11. Make your site faster

Search for an item on Google. Get a link of it, directing you to some eCommerce site. Click on the link. Then wait for ages to the product image and description to load. This has happened to most of us innumerable times. In the age where people wouldn’t wait an extra second for your page to load, it is a make it or break it situation. So you have to make sure that your pages load as fast as possible and also loading times are seamless with the help of transitional animations so that people actually feel like they are waiting for something.

12. Offer better discounts on bundles or bulk purchase

People like better discounts when they buy in bulk. In fact, it is also cheaper for eCommerce sites to buy items in bulk. So it is only fair that when someone is buying from you in bulk, you should offer him better discounts. Many eCommerce sites have a separate email for contacting about bulk orders. This helps companies provide a more custom approach when a customer needs to place a bulk order. Such extra features not only help you build a better customer base but could increase your revenue and market share considerably.

13. Study at what points are carts abandoned

Cart abandonment is what plagues eCommerce companies the most. That is why studying customer patterns to understand at which points customers abandon the cart and leave your website could help you decrease abandonment percentages and increase overall sales. That being said, it is not a one day job and would need considerable data as well as machine and human intelligence to analyse if anything in the website can indeed be changed to make fewer people leave suddenly after adding items to their cart.

14. Add live chat and intelligent customer care

Live chat in websites is very important, and while simple search and track functionalities can be taken care of by an AI chat engine, you would also need human chat-help for people with more complex problems. Same goes for customer care. There should be automation scripts taking care of helping people with the usual problems, such as returns, tracking, and more, whereas human customer care officials should take over in complex scenarios.

15. Referral discounts

Referrals help bring more customers to websites without the need to spend a dime. And it is a scheme that can help companies get exponential growth- all by using its existing customers! An intelligent reward-based referral scheme can grow your eCommerce site beyond leaps and bounds.

16. Reward verified reviewers

Verified reviews are as important as product descriptions. Unlike everything else, this is not something that you can just go out there and buy. However, if you have a reward system that gives users a point for every 10 verified review or something, not only will more people who buy products on your website, write honest reviews, but people who come searching for goods will get a better picture of what they are about to buy- this would directly boost your sales and result in lesser returns.

17. Have inventory records and display them

Inventory records are important to eCommerce websites. But they are not only for internal use! You need to display them on product pages, mainly for two reasons:

  • If a product is out of stock, a customer should know that on the product page itself, and not during checkout.
  • Displaying the number of pieces in stock would create a sense of urgency among buyers and they are more likely to buy something if only a piece or two of it is remaining.
18. Partner with other businesses to boost sales

Conquering the world alone is a big task, and since you are no Napoleon, it is better that you take the help of others. You can partner with different types of existing sites to boost sales- such as affiliate marketing websites, advertising websites, review websites, blogs, coupon websites, and more!

19. Optimise your mobile viewing experience

As per records, almost 53% of the web traffic was through mobile phones in 2018. This figure will only grow as smartphones and data packs become cheaper. Smartphones have also become faster and produce a better experience than earlier. Being much cheaper than computers, and their easy availability makes them particularly popular in developing countries. This is the reason why if you want to increase sales in your eCommerce website, you need to optimise it for an amazing mobile viewing experience to carry forward all the features that are available when accessing it from a desktop.

20. Verify sellers to avoid fake products

Fake products are a massacre, and it spoils the brand name of big eCommerce companies, while the obscure seller makes an easy escape with its contract getting terminated. To make sure that the trust that your customers have in you doesn’t die and you can continue to increase your sales with every passing month, you need to have a robust onboarding system for sellers in your path to grow.

Boosting sales is the best way to have an edge above your competition. The greater the customer base you have, the lower the margins you can keep, while still keeping prices low enough to attract more customers, and making enough profits.

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