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Table of content

  • Why AliExpress matters
  • How to scrape AliExpress
  • The wonders of parsing
  • To sum up
August 30, 2022
9 minutes read

How to Scrape AliExpress and Beat Your Competition

If you’ve ever gotten an ad for a bizarre product when scrolling through a news website, social media, or another online place, it was likely an item from AliExpress. They have both the most normal and the weirdest things on sale.

AliExpress, Wish, Banggood, and similar international e-commerce platforms have been blasted in numerous outlets. The purchasing experience there can indeed be special. Often, the comedy revolves around these platforms selling an economy version of something singular. Or “expectations vs. reality” type of jokes. Definitely hilarious, but that doesn’t damage the reputation of AliExpress – quite the opposite!

The popularity of AliExpress means that it has valuable information that you might want to extract by scraping. Are you new to scraping and willing to learn? Then, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on how to scrape AliExpress (and parse the results, too).

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Why AliExpress matters

AliExpress was launched in 2010 in China as a B2B (business-to-business) online retail service. Since then, it has expanded to a B2C (business-to-consumer) and a C2C (consumer-to-consumer) marketplace.

Today, AliExpress has a lot going for it. It’s exceptional because of the scope and variety of products, the low prices, and the option of free shipping. You can find practically anything there with few e-commerce sites that can compete with their prices.

Whether you’re already on AliExpress or just realizing that you should sign up, we can agree that it’s a goldmine of data. The logical decision now is to scrape it.

How to scrape AliExpress

Broadly speaking, scraping requires proxies and coding. Building your own scraping tool is obviously hella complicated if you don’t have any coding experience. Therefore, we’ll introduce to you our ready-to-use eCommerce Scraping API. It’s a perfect all-in-one tool that renders JavaScript websites and allows a real-time or proxy-like integration.

In other words, it’s a data collector that combines web scraping and a massive network of residential and datacenter proxies. Our eCommerce Scraping API is meant for price aggregation, market research, or collecting all sorts of product data such as the product name, price, description, etc.

The code we’ll apply in this guide is taken from our help documentation. It’s provided in three programming languages: cURL, Python, and PHP. For this tutorial, we’ll try two of them: Python and cURL. Although the process is a little different, the result is the same. Choose whichever seems more appealing to you.

To start using eCommerce Scraping API, you’ll have to log in to your Smartproxy dashboard. On the left side, navigate to Pricing under the eCommerce column. Then, choose one of the Regular plans or contact our sales team to set up an Enterprise plan.

How to scrape AliExpress

Option A: scraping with Python

Set up Python

Python is currently one of the most popular programming languages among software engineers, scientists, accountants, mathematicians, and data analysts. Because of its flexibility and simplicity, Python has been used for web, mobile, and desktop application development, automation, big data analytics, and many other purposes. It’s a fantastic language to learn for beginners and professionals alike.

Go ahead and download Python here. Then, you can get a dedicated integrated development environment (IDE) application like PyCharm (the Community edition is free and open source), which is a convenient software to type out and run code.

Prepare the code

The template of the code is as follows:

pip install library
import requests

task_params = {
'target': 'aliexpress',
'url': 'Target',
'geo': 'city,state,country'
}

username = 'Username'
password = 'Password'

response = requests.post(
'https://scrape.smartproxy.com/v1/tasks',
json=task_params,
auth=(username, password)
)

print(response.text)

What you need to do is to replace exactly four elements in this code.

In the 'url': 'Target', line, insert your target URL in place of Target. To do so, find a category of products on AliExpress and copy the URL. It can be, for instance, the category of men’s jeans: https://www.aliexpress.com/category/100003086/jeans.html. Please note that we’ll only scrape the page we see in our browser. If there are several pages of men’s jeans, you’d have to scrape each one of them separately to get information of the entire category.

In the next line, in place of city,state,country, you can indicate the city, state, and country that would match the location settings you have on the AliExpress website (which can be selected in one of the panels at the top). For example, you can put New York,New York,United States

You can also put the city and country only. Keep in mind, if the geographic parameter of your scraping request is different than your IP address and location selected on AliExpress, the scraped data might differ from what you see on the website.

After that, pull up your Smartproxy dashboard. Navigate to the Authentication method under the eCommerce column. At the top, under the Authenticate via Username:Password title, you’ll see your username. Click on the pen icon next to it to create a password.

Now you can insert authentication information into the code. Copy your username and password, and paste it accordingly within the apostrophes where it says Username and Password. For example, my username happens to be U0000082755, and I set the password to Password.

At this point, your entire code should look something like this:

pip install library
import requests

task_params = {
'target': 'aliexpress',
'url': 'https://www.aliexpress.com/category/100003086/jeans.html',
'geo': 'New York,New York,United States'
}

username = 'U0000082755'
password = 'Password'

response = requests.post(
'https://scrape.smartproxy.com/v1/tasks',
json=task_params,
auth=(username, password)
)

print(response.text)

Run the script

It’s time to run the script. In PyCharm, you can right-click on the tab of your Python file and select Run [file name], or you can select the correct Python file next to the green start button and then click that button.

See a huge block of info appear before your eyes? Hurray! That’s your result in raw HTML. You can skip the next part and go straight to the parsing tutorial to make this information more readable. 

Option B: Scraping with cURL

Strictly speaking, cURL (abbreviation for “client URL”) isn’t a programming language but a command-line tool for file transfer within the URL syntax. Generally, it’s used when you want to transfer data from and to a server. It’s scriptable and versatile, so it thrives on complex operations.

Using cURL for scraping is arguably easier than Python. You don’t need to download any software, and the code is a little shorter. 

To get started, open up Command Prompt if you’re using Windows or Terminal if you’re on macOS. The template of the code is as such:

curl -u SPusername:SPpassword -X POST --url https://scrape.smartproxy.com/v1/tasks -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d "{\"target\": \"aliexpress\", \"url\": \"link\", \"geo\": \"city,state,country\"}"

You need to fill out four positions in the line. In place of SPusername, enter your Smartproxy username; in place of SPpassword, enter your Smartproxy password; in place of link, enter the directory you wish to scrape; and in place of city,state,country, indicate the location that matches your IP address and the location selected on AliExpress. 

Your Smartproxy username can be found in the dashboard. There, you’ll be able to create a password for it. My username happens to be U0000082755, and I set the password to Password.

As for the link, choose a category of items on AliExpress that you wish to scrape and copy the URL. For instance, it can be a category of women’s sweaters: https://www.aliexpress.com/category/200000783/sweaters.html.

Finally, the geographic parameter of your scraping request has to match your IP address and location selected on AliExpress. Otherwise, the scraped data might differ from what you see on the website. You can go for New York,New York,United States.

Now your code will look similar to this:

curl -u U0000082755:Password -X POST --url https://scrape.smartproxy.com/v1/tasks -H "Content-Type: application/json" -d "{\"target\": \"aliexpress\", \"url\": \"https://www.aliexpress.com/category/200000783/sweaters.html\", \"geo\": \"New York,New York,United States\"}"

Press the Enter button to run the script. You’ll receive a block of text. You can select all, copy and paste it to a text editor or wherever you prefer to store the information. Keep reading to learn the method to decipher this data.

The wonders of parsing

How to parse AliExpress data

Unsure of what to do with the text block you’ve received after scraping? Then you need some parsing. It’s the process of taking one format in which we find the data and converting it to another. Parsing is used to structure relevant information for greater convenience.

Building your own parser can be cheaper than buying one. Whether it’s worth it depends on the scale of your enterprise and available resources. If you had your own parser, you’d completely control the process. But building a parser requires specific knowledge, skills, and time. On top of that, there’s no guarantee that it will function as expected.

We’ve got great news for you – you won’t need to build a parser for the data you’ve scraped from AliExpress (at least not from scratch). We’ve got a little JavaScript parser to go along with your scraping project. It will neatly put the main information of each listing in separate columns. Follow the steps below to organize the information you’ve received from scraping your selected AliExpress directory.

  • Download node js from here, and install it on your system.
  • Restart your computer for changes to take effect.
  • Go to this GitHub link, and download the parser pack we've designed. You can do that by clicking on the green Code button and choosing Download ZIP.
  • Next, extract the parser pack, and open the parser.js file with a text editor to begin parsing.
  • Find the line that says const text = `data`; – your scraped information has to replace data, but the info has to be tidied up first.
  • Tidy up the scraped information by deleting everything before <!DOCTYPE and everything after n<\/html>\n. Use CTRL+F (Windows) or CMD+F (macOS) to find these spots.
  • Once you paste the tidied-up information, save the file.
  • Now you’ll need to open Command Prompt or Terminal in the folder where you extracted the pack. Use a search engine to find resources on how to do that on your operating system.
  • In the Command Prompt or Terminal, type npm install and hit Enter.
  • Then, type node parser.js and hit Enter.
  • If you receive a web link as a response, go to it in your browser and check your Command Prompt or Terminal again.

Your data is now parsed! It gives you 1) the title of the item, 2) the name of the store that offers the item, 3) the number of sold items, and 4) the price.

At this point, make sure to organize the parsed data. Log all the stuff you’ve scraped in one place. Don’t forget to write down the time and date to accurately monitor the trend of what’s going on in the market. Thus, hopefully, you’ll find opportunities to do some business.

To sum up

Don’t pass the chance to make use of AliExpress, one of the biggest e-commerce marketplaces on the net. No market research can be complete without including AliExpress in it. There’s no better way to perform market analytics than to scrape, scrape, scrape. 

Scraping can be intimidating at first. But once you get the hang of it, you won’t be able to stop. It will become second nature to you and seem like an answer to most of life’s questions. Or at least to the questions on how to succeed in your line of business. Check out our eCommerce Scraping API plans to begin your journey!

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Mariam Nakani

Say hello to Mariam! She is very tech savvy - and wants you to be too. She has a lot of intel on residential proxy providers, and uses this knowledge to help you have a clear view of what is really worth your attention.

Frequently asked questions

Is it legal to scrape AliExpress?

Yes, it is. Since the data on AliExpress is publicly available, it’s not a crime to scrape it. However, proxies are a must because such online marketplaces usually have their methods of preventing scraping activity. Don’t worry – our eCommerce Scraping API ensures a 100% success rate!

What e-commerce websites can I scrape with the eCommerce Scraping API?

Our eCommerce Scraping API works splendidly with these e-commerce websites: Amazon, Wayfair, AliExpress, Idealo.

What proxies are the best to scrape AliExpress?

We recommend using residential proxies because datacenter ones are more vulnerable to detection. Residential proxies ensure the delivery of the most successful results when scraping e-commerce sites like AliExpress.