ecommerce - retail - Web scraping

How Web Scraping Can be used to Automate Dropshipping

How Web Scraping Can be used to Automate Dropshipping

Over the past two decades, the internet has evolved from a geek’s work to a common man’s daily functioning tool for pretty much everything. Widespread usage of the internet has not only simplified day to day functioning but has also opened new avenues of possibilities one couldn’t’ imagine before.

One sector that’s been tremendously affected is Retail. Since the beginning of time, people have been selling. While the process has undergone a drastic transformation in the last millennium, the basic concept of sale remains the same

However, with online services gaining traction, giving rise to e-commerce stores, the need to maintain a physical store with a large staff is no more a prerequisite to running a successful retail business. While Online shopping has revolutionized how goods are sold, they come with their own challenges:

  • The stock needs to be purchased in advance.
  • The stock needs to be physically sent to the customer
  • There is a whole other team responsible for packaging and dispatching the orders
  • To even get started in an online business demands a huge amount of capital upfront.

Enter Dropshipping!

Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method which essentially takes away the shortcomings of an online retail process. Dropshipping is a new way to sell online where a store doesn’t keep the products it sells in stock.

With Dropshipping, you act as a mediator between the buyer and seller and not interact with the physical goods in the process. Dropshipping differs from a standard retail model in the sense that it allows a person to conduct online business without indulging in the hassles of processes like developing and mass producing products, inventory tracking, setting up warehouse space, and maintaining a cumbersome shipping/receiving system.

Dropshipping brings a greater advantage to the table. It allows you to start an e-commerce store without having to do large investments in inventory up front. In a traditional retail setup, retailers had to tie up huge amounts of capital purchasing inventory.

Whereas, in a dropshipping business, you only have to purchase a product when a sale has been made and you’ve been paid. With meagre monetary investment, it’s possible to start a successful dropshipping business.How Web Scraping Can be used to Automate Dropshipping

Advantages of Dropshipping

  • Less Capital Is Required: This option makes dropshipping the most lucrative: possibility to launch an e-commerce store without investing a large amount of capital in inventory up front, which is hardly the case for traditional retailers. Without major up-front inventory investments, it is possible to begin a successful dropshipping business with little funds.
  • Easy to start: Dropshipping makes it easier to run an e-commerce business. With dropshipping, you’ll be relieved from:
  1. Managing a warehouse.
  2. Managing your order’s packaging and shipping
  3. Tracking inventory for accounting reasons.
  4. Handling returns and inbound shipments.
  5. Continually ordering products and managing stock level.
  • Low Overhead: Since you are not required to manage a warehouse of purchase inventory, you can reap the benefits of minimum overhead expenses. In the beginning, dropshipping businesses can be run from home with just a laptop. As the business grows, so does the expenses, but they’ll always be less compared to a brick and mortar business.
  • Ease of Scalability: While a traditional business makes you work w.r.t the scale of the business’s demands, using dropshipping suppliers, any additional orders will be borne by the suppliers, giving you the freedom to focus on aspects like an expansion.
  • Wide Selection of Products: Since you don’t have to pre-purchase the items you sell, you can offer a variety of products to your customers. At no additional cost, you can list more items stocked by the supplier.
  • Flexible location: Running a Dropshipping business brings with it the luxury of practicing flexibility in location: a dropshipping business can be run from just about anywhere as long as you have an internet connection and good communication with suppliers and customers.

The Supplier Challenge with Dropshipping

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While online businesses would find dropshipping a boon, often certain challenges creep in despite a fully automated process. One of those challenges is Supplier Errors. 

Dropshipping suppliers often err during the order fulfillment process. Low-quality suppliers often mismanage the process which ultimately results in endless frustration with missing items, mismanaged shipments, and low-quality packing, resulting in damaging a business’s reputation.  Most of these suppliers are not very tech savvy and the stock file they share with you might not be accurate.

Therefore, it is essential to know the price updates from the supplier and update your pricing accordingly. There are a few common problems faced while updating prices of commodities :  

  1. The file supplier provided is inaccurate –
  2. The file delivery takes time
  3. The file isn’t compatible with your e-commerce platforms like Shopify or Magento.

How to use web scraping to solve Dropshipping issues?

One way to solve this problem is by scraping the information from the supplier website. With Web scraping, you employ a script or a bot to scrape content from a supplier directory or rearrange an existing stock file into a new one.

For a small setup and monthly fee, companies like Datahut dedicated to web scraping services will scrape supplier products and place them in a .CSV file for you.

A well-configured scraper will provide the following things.

  1. Accurate data as shown on the supplier website
  2. Data delivered promptly
  3. Data in a consistent and compatible format that works with your e-commerce platforms like Shopify or Magento

What is the best way to use web scraping method to solve supplier errors?

The process takes place as follows:

  1. A Scraper is configured on a Supplier website whose information you want to scrape full time.
  2. A data extractor is scheduled at regular interval to notify about change in information as and when.
  3. Using automated tools, the data extractor checks for data quality.
  4. Data delivery is done using a CSV file or an API.
  5. The supplier data is updated with the dropshipping business owner.

While dropshipping isn’t a perfect, stress-free way to build a successful business, it certainly has its share of advantages which make it a lucrative option in today’s retail scenario. Web Scraping can be extensively used to address some of its complexities, and the purpose of this blog is to shed some light on its prospects

Are you looking to eliminate such challenges in your Dropshipping business? Get in touch with Datahut to automate your supplier processes and other Dropshipping processes? 

Tony Paul
I'm the Co-founder of Datahut. I've been helping companies solving their data extraction problems for the last six years. I'm a chess lover and an ardent fan of the lean startup. I write about Web Scraping, Online retail, Sales, Marketing Tips etc
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