AutoMatch, what is it and how in the … does it work?
We’ll be honest, most guys in our team don’t know how it works either. Fortunately, we’ve got a development team that does. I mean, they created it…
AutoMatch is actually quite a simple algorithm that automates a certain task you’d otherwise have to do manually. The algorithm combines a couple of tasks.
The initial scrape
Within your Pricesearch account, you’re required to enter certain data regarding a specific product. Such as the GTIN/EAN code, SKU, description, price, etc. You are also able to enter specific websites which you would like to monitor. Based on these ‘parameters’, Pricesearch carries out the following tasks in this specific order:
- Remember you manually added a competitor URL. This URL is now in our database, but our staff first needs to manually validate this URL, to prevent viruses and security breaches. This way, we prevent someone else from entering our systems by sending us a false link;
Pricesearch also manually analyzes the website you entered and identifies the AutoMatch parameters, this is a one time configuration for all new websites added to our system. The approval of the websites are generally done within 4 hours;
- Pricesearch then goes to the website and does the initial search. It enters the assigned parameters in the search bar and starts the search;
- The results that show up are specific URLs. Pricesearch will now open each of these URLs;
- On each webpage, Pricesearch will ‘scrape’ and compare the several parameters. It recognizes the parameters and if for example the description is completely different, it’s probably not the same product. If other parameters also differ, Pricesearch will not include it in the results;
- If Pricesearch acknowledges that a certain webpage has the same product as the product it performed the search for, it will send the URL to our database.
And voila, you’ve got a match.
The second AutoMatch search
After this first ‘initial’ search, Pricesearch is able to search in Google Shopping. It’s even possible to limit this search to your specific country, so that the only results in Google Shopping are URLs from your country. You can enable this in your settings. The results to this second search via Google Shopping may vary, depending on your settings.
If you haven’t specified you nationality, you may get a lot of results from all over the world. However, since Google Shoppings’ standard configuration is on the English language, most of the results will be from English websites (mostly U.S. and UK based).
Hence, if you want to track national competition, make sure you configure your settings correctly. We’re happy to help and do it with you. There are more settings that will influence your AutoMatch results. It’s worth checking out the possibilities.
Hereafter, Pricesearch will perform a direct website search every 15 minutes for those products in our system that have no matches yet. All the hundreds of thousands of products entered by our customers, that do have matches, will be included in this 15-minute cycle. This way, every product is updated every 15-minutes. You can image the calculative power needed. That’s why we keep improving our technique both regarding hardware and software.
The speed of AutoMatch
We often receive the request to make AutoMatch even faster. This is our most demanding challenge, since this is something we need to keep doing all the time.
Imagine a customer entering 12.000 items at once and would like to monitor 10 websites. That means Priceseach needs to initiate the initial search 120.000 times. If you would like to have results within an hour, that means 3 searches per second per website. And that’s just for one customer...
These searches are literally done on the website of your competitor itself. This requires a lot from that website. It may even influence the speed of the website for other consumers on that website.
Imagine you are the website owner and experience performance issues because someone is constantly performing loads of searches on your website. This will give a negative effect to your other visitors. Therefore, we limit the amount of searches per unit of time per website, so we don’t crash websites.
So even though we keep improving the technique for Pricesearch to keep up with the demand, there is a limit to how fast Pricesearch can work. That’s the reason why the AutoMatch can take some time before all the products are matched.
To keep up, we’re constantly investing in better hardware and our developers are constantly improving the efficiency of Pricesearch.
Can AutoMatch work faster?
Yes, but we won’t make it faster.
The first search will take time. This is to prevent security breaches that may affect Pricesearch. The initial search is usually done within four hours.
The 15-minute cycle is the best we can do for now. Over time, the duration of the cycle may vary. If we receive a lot more customers that add a lot of products at once, the cycle may slow down a little. That is why we’re constantly investing in better hardware and software to keep up with demand.
We will not, however, make the cycle faster. If we do, this may have negative effects on the websites we’re scraping. We’ll do the best we can to maintain the 15-minute cycle.