Retailer Monitoring: Everything You Need to Know

Retail monitoring
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As customers, we tend to look for products at multiple retailers while comparing their offers and prices before making a purchase. With the rise of e-commerce websites, it is easier than ever. But for brands, this poses a new problem which they can only solve with real-time data.


Retailer monitoring is a way for businesses to ensure that products are accurately represented by every reseller. We will cover everything you need to know about retailer monitoring – from its definition and importance to how you can get started.

Table of Contents
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What is retailer monitoring?

Retailer monitoring is the process of collecting and analyzing data from third-party online vendors, marketplaces, and other e-commerce websites. A closely related action is price monitoring, which refers to the collection and analysis of competitors’ prices. Both use similar methods, but retail monitoring directs efforts to retailers.


Manufacturers used to have more control over how their products were displayed and priced in physical stores. Nowadays, with thousands of online retailers, product placement can change at any time without your knowledge.


With the chain of retailers expanding, maintaining contact with all of them is nearly impossible. Even worse, you sometimes cannot trust their word as some have their own interests in mind. Therefore, ensuring consistency in customer experience requires a different approach.


Retailer monitoring is based on processes of data collection, web scraping in particular, which can keep an eye on your products without retailers even noticing. Just like a secret shopper in a physical store, specialized monitoring tools use bots to visit websites and collect the required data.


Since bots collect data way more efficiently than humans, their presence can give unnecessary load to websites. Therefore, some of them frequently ban IP addresses that use bots. You can avoid this problem by using datacenter proxies.


Proxies allow you to rotate multiple IPs so that the e-commerce websites wouldn’t ban your primary address while you collect the data. In addition, proxy servers will also help you to target specific geo-locations acquiring data that might be inaccessible otherwise.

Why is retailer monitoring important?

While there is little dispute about the importance of tracking your products in physical stores, online product tracking still requires justification. Here are the main reasons why monitoring sellers is essential for such a task.

Brand misrepresentation

To keep your brand well-represented, you must ensure it is listed the way you intended. Unfortunately, such control is exactly what you lose with third-party retailers. They might list your items with incorrect or inappropriate images, names, descriptions, and in the wrong categories. Retailer monitoring helps to find such misrepresentations.

Ensuring consistent customer experience

Consistency is important for ensuring a good customer experience with a brand. Logos, packaging, and any other supplementary material should work together. Even if the retailers are using appropriate item listings, they might not be aligned with each other and the real message of your marketing.

Price fluctuations

If the product’s price varies highly among different resellers, it might draw customers away from the brand itself. Some fluctuations from the manufacturer’s suggested retail price are normal, but they should not change the overall pricing strategy or damage the brand’s reputation. 

Fair competition between retailers

Some retail partners might significantly lower prices or run ad campaigns to take more of the market and drive others out. This isn’t always maximizing profits for you, so engaging in retail monitoring will help you to keep tabs on them and ensure fair competition.

Finding unauthorized retailers

One of the biggest threats for a brand is sellers that act without your permission or, even worse, mix your products with counterfeits. The damage can be hard to repair as legal action takes a lot of time. It is best to constantly engage in retailer monitoring, preventing any possible harm upfront.

Researching client preferences

Performing surveys as the only source of customer preferences is ineffective. Buyers are unlikely to fill out lengthy forms. Instead, they voice their opinion on review sites and social media. Retailer monitoring can give insight into your customers’ buying patterns and show which markets are growing the fastest.

Customer sentiments

Sentiment analysis evaluates customers’ attitudes about brands by researching the words associated with them online. Such a practice can be applied to your retail partners to know what customer experience they create and whether it is living up to your brand. If the customer sentiment is negative, you could take action with the retailer.

Learning about trends

You can get actionable insights about upcoming trends while studying historical product data. Retailer monitoring can be supplemental as it expands the volume of available data. The more data you have, the better your chances of finding seasonal fluctuations, new markets, changes in categories or buying patterns, or other opportunities.

Investigating competitors

Knowing what your competitors are up to is important for building any business strategy. Often, the same retailers are selling multiple different brands, including your competitors’ products. So their website is a source of data on directly competing brands. Investigating retail partners with automated tools will help you to collect this data in a timely fashion.

Key components to monitor

Understanding metrics is essential for the successful monitoring of retail partners. Even with the right tools, you might miss important data retailers have on your products. Their importance might vary by industry. But we can generalize some key components most businesses should monitor.


Price tracking is an integral part of retailer monitoring. Most US manufacturers have MAP policies set for retailers or, at least, suggest a retail price for products. Violating such agreements can even lead to lawsuits as it risks damaging brand image, fair competition and can lower supplier profits.


A useful practice is setting alerts for when the prices change in an unexpected way. It helps you enforce the agreements and validate whether these changes are legitimate. Access to price data is also important for creating new pricing policies. 


Competitor prices can impact your strategies too, so it is a crucial component of retailer monitoring. Changes in the price of similar products might significantly impact your own sales.

Same-store sales

Dealing with some retailers might cost more effort than others. Same-store sales should be monitored to evaluate the total number of sales in a particular e-commerce store. It gives you insight into which retail partners are selling the most of your product and which ones are lagging behind.

Stock-keeping units

Stock-keeping unit (SKU) is a unique code assigned to each product for distinguishing them from other inventory. As products move from one retailer to another and are sold at different places, it may become hard to keep track of this movement. SKUs solve the problem.


This metric allows tracking products by model, as well as some of the more unique features – color, size, style, internal parts, materials, and others. SKU data gives you an idea about item availability on digital shelves and helps you adapt the production accordingly.


SKUs not only show the quantity and characteristics of products retailers own but also where and when the sales happen. It is an effective measure against counterfeits or unauthorized retailers as you can match the data with what e-commerce partners report to you.


Furthermore, SKUs allow you to oversee the geo-locations of your sales. Some products might not be intended for all locations, or there might be a shortage of available items. Monitoring SKUs will help you track such cases efficiently and solve supply problems.

Item descriptions and placement

It is good when retailers have the freedom to present your products differently, but they shouldn’t be left unchecked. Inspecting item categories and descriptions, including images and video content, is crucial to keeping your brand accurately represented.


Retailer monitoring tools can alert you when the information about the product mismatches the price or other information. You can prevent a drop in customer satisfaction by collecting the product description data yourself and contacting the reseller.


The placement of products in inappropriate categories or in combination with unapproved items can also be solved with automated retailer monitoring. Checking this information manually would take a lot of time and resources, which are better spent elsewhere.

Search results

Retailer tracking should also include your product ranking in search results. Retailers’ internal search systems might not prefer your product and display them at the end. Monitoring how well your products rank for certain keywords and categories is essential to ensuring that buyers find your products faster than the competition.


You should also monitor search engine results pages (SERPs) periodically. Most businesses are already practicing it for their own websites, but it is useful to research your retail partners too. Look for what keywords they are ranking better than you and whether they prefer promoting your products or those of competitors.


Retailer monitoring is a viable source of feedback from customers who actively purchase your products. Most retailers have comment sections or forms for feedback about products. Collecting such data yourself is faster than contacting multiple retailers via email, and manufacturing failures should be solved quickly. 


Of course, the reviews should be taken with a grain of salt as some feedback might not be directed to your product but to the retailer. However, this is also a valuable source of information as it might help you decide whether the retailer can live up to customer satisfaction standards.


Keeping up with the competition is impossible without accurate data. So it is not enough to monitor your products, you must track those of the competition. It applies to most components we covered – prices, descriptions, placement, SERPs, and websites of rival products.


Success in the retail market often depends on how you can react to the marketing campaigns of competitors. Rarely do e-commerce shops report such changes, as most have thousands of different products on sale. Monitoring competitors yourself is the most efficient way to keep yourself updated.

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How to monitor retailers?


Retailer monitoring requires gathering a lot of data from e-commerce platforms. It can’t be done from your home or office connection, so proxies are essential. In short, they are intermediaries routing your requests through third-party devices and changing the IP address along the way.

There are three main reasons why collecting such data from your own IP address is not recommended. The first one is related to anonymity. You might not always want to show that you’re monitoring a retailer, so proxies will make it seem as if the traffic is coming from any regular user.

Second, most e-commerce websites have anti-bot systems that track visitors and ban offending IP addresses. Therefore, retailer monitoring without proxies is also inefficient, as you will constantly battle various restrictions. Rotating multiple IP addresses is a much simpler and faster option.

The third reason for monitoring resellers with proxies is geo-targeting. It is the practice of displaying different information according to visitors’ geo-location. For example, if you are connecting from Europe, the product listings in the United States would not be accessible. Unless you use proxies to change your location and bypass such restrictions.

Whether you build a tool yourself or purchase an already working one, proxy integration will be one of the most important features. In most cases, you simply need to add the IP address and the port number to start routing your connection through a proxy server. Choosing the correct proxy type may come as a more difficult task.

Datacenter proxies are the best choice for retailer monitoring. They are the most responsive proxy type as they use a high-speed internet connection based in a dedicated data center. Datacenter IP addresses are created in bulk, so it is much cheaper to purchase them in large quantities for IP rotation.

Datacenter proxies are beneficial in many more scenarios. If you want to learn more about them, check out our article about datacenter proxies and when you should use them.

Building a monitoring system from scratch

While it certainly isn’t a task for everyone, creating a web scraper for tracking e-commerce websites is a great option. The tool you design yourself or with a team of developers might have business-specific functions that might not be found elsewhere. However, this process requires a lot of knowledge.


First of all, you must understand the architecture of monitoring software. Any web scraper will first need a list of target web addresses. Then, the bot can visit the websites, locate the required elements in the code and extract the needed data points.


The process is not finished yet, as everything needs to be prepared for humans to read. The process called parsing structures the data so that it could be presented in a familiar format, such as CSV, HTML, or JSON.


A frequent but optional step is to clean the data further. By a process called data normalization, the information is categorized into tables to remove unnecessary clutter and redundancies before analysis.


Most frequently, web scrapers for price monitoring are made with Python, but Java, PHP, and other programming languages are also used. Depending on the complexity of the elements you want to scrape, the code can vary from a simple structure to a very complex one.


Some companies hire freelance developers to create customized scrapers, while others have entire departments working on this task. However, it doesn’t need to be so expensive and complicated, as you can purchase a pre-built price monitoring tool with the functions you need.

Price monitoring tools

Usually, price monitoring is directed at competitor products, so you can analyze the market and adapt your strategy. However, if you use price monitoring tools for your retailers, they can serve a similar purpose. Since most such tools collect large amounts of data online, they fall into the category of web scrapers.


Additionally, cases like retailer monitoring require large amounts of real-time data, so a manual approach is not an option. Below we list some of the most popular price monitoring tools that can also help you to monitor retail partners and ensure a good customer experience for your buyers.


Octoparse is a powerful web scraping tool that can collect various data from most e-commerce websites. It is cloud-based and does not require any coding knowledge, so using it is easy even for beginners. The tool can seem costly, but a free trial helps to decide whether you want to spend that much.


Prisync is a software for price monitoring that stands out for its convenient UI. This tool has many features useful for tracking your retail partners. MAP monitoring, price watching, and marketplace data tracking are only a few examples. It is also one of the most affordable price-tracking tools on the market.


DataCorps is a price monitoring software primarily aimed at investigating competitors. However, the extensive list of features they offer is useful for tracking retailers too. You will have to contact them to get exact prices, but it is worth the effort. Their unique approach to analytics, automatic pricing, and repricing are promising.


Parsehub is another powerful cloud-based web scraper able to extract pricing data and item descriptions efficiently. It works with most dynamic websites and is easily scalable. Their pricing favors large monitoring tasks. You can try their free trial to see whether their features will be enough for your needs

If you are looking for more web scrapers that are easy to use and don’t require any coding experience, check out our article on the best no-code web scrapers.


Retailer monitoring is an essential practice for manufacturers and their retailers. It serves many different functions for representing a brand, ensuring customer experience, and more. With the advent of e-commerce, the components of retailer tracking can be monitored online. So all you need to get started is a good web scraper and quality proxies.

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