This week, my colleagues and I at Distil Networks exhibited at the 2014 Internet Retailers Conference and Exhibition (IRCE) in Chicago. With 10,000 registered attendees, 650 vendors exhibiting, and multiples days of presentations by leading e-Commerce companies, this event is a must attend if you are serious about Internet Retailing.
Kicking off the first day was John Donahoe, President & CEO of eBay, who offered a compelling vision for the future of shopping (think mobile and think data) for local and global retailers alike. His presentation was followed by Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia, who offered an inspiring presentation on the value of a clear vision and how you can change the world.
Meanwhile, on the exhibit hall floor, my colleagues and I enjoyed how our own vision to make the web more secure helps Internet Retailers. Throughout the first day, we discussed website content protection and how large and small Internet Retailers alike can avoid the threats of automated web scraping – so they can focus on engaging actual consumers and converting them into loyal repeat customers.
What we heard was fascinating: every Internet Retailer has a story about how automated bots are doing something malicious on their e-Commerce site. Here are some of their stories of how automated bots or website scrapers are threatening their businesses:
- a major e-Commerce company admitted it relies on third-party companies who employ automated web scraping tools to monitor SKUs, prices, and promotions of its competitors. This same person also said he does not want the same done to his site.
- a large shopping site knows that bots consume at least 20% of its web resources and is looking for ways to reduce its web infrastructure costs while accelerating content delivery.
- a parts supply company spends significant money on compelling images; yet, competitors utilize website scrapers to steal the images to boost credibility on a competing site.
- the head of e-Commerce at one company explained to us how his team spent 600 hours developing new product content to better compete for organic search traffic. He does not want a website scraper to steal any of it, let alone use his proprietary content to compete against his site for traffic.
- one retailer has to constantly clean up gibberish product reviews and suspects somebody is trying to hurt the credibility of the site.
- one product company described how it fulfilled an order for a product a third-party sold it on Amazon’s marketplace. The problem: the consumer paid twice the price so when the product shipped, the consumer complained. It turns out a bot used price arbitrage to find the lowest cost retailer to sell and fulfill the product. Nobody knows the true identity of the Amazon Marketplace market maker… and this product company has an upset consumer!
- a website scraper stole the Chinese content of one of the largest sites in the world. This same content was found on a competing site within days.
Let’s face it: Product data such as pricing, SKUs, and inventory availability is competitive intelligence waiting to be stolen while product content, such as descriptions, images, ratings, and reviews, are the juice to bring potential site visitors to your site. This content is easily stolen from your own front door!
As Jimmy Wales suggests, having a compelling vision makes for a great company. At Distil Networks, we are making the web more secure – and for e-Commerce companies it starts with website content protection and avoiding the threats that automated web scraping poses.
Afterall, does anybody believe a bot will actually convert into a loyal customer?
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