Beagle Scraper Tutorial – How to scrape e-commerce websites and modify the scraper

Scraping e-commerce websites usually involve crawling the whole domain with a standard crawling framework or developing a dedicated crawler or scraper. Both these options are time-consuming and resource intensive. This is what Beagle Scraper plans to solve by developing and becoming the largest e-commerce scraper, open source and readily available for anybody looking to start collecting data right away.

This tutorial has three parts:

What Beagle Scraper? How will it solve the issue?

Beagle Scraper is a category scraper for e-commerce websites. The main goal is to develop a plug-and-play solution for developers and marketers looking to start collecting data right away, without spending too much time coding or testing a scraper.

TL:DR paste any number of product page categories into a text file and run Beagle Scraper. It will access each page and collect data on all products listed in that category.

PART 1: Beagle Scraper Tutorial: How to use the scraper


The main advantage of Beagle Scraper is that it will access and scrape only category pages. The hypothesis is that on category pages, all the relevant data for each individual product, like its name, image, price and rating are available in the product listing. Thus, there is no need to access each product page individually.

A few advantages of scraping e-commerce data straight from category pages:

  • Fast deployment: it can collect data on hundreds of products (items) from just a few pages
  • Fewer resources used: unlike crawlers, it will not scrape a whole domain, thus by limiting the number of pages scraped, Beagle Scraper limits the number of requests and minimizes the time spent collecting data.
  • Extracts only the required data: it avoids spending time and resources on pages where the data is not present.

How to install Beagle Scraper

Beagle Scraper is developed with Python 2.7 and BeautifulSoup4 and requires both Python and BS4 to run.

To install BeautifulSoup4, you will need to run this command.

Also, tldextract and selenium need installed through the following commands:

Once you have the above libraries installed on your machine, you can simply download the Beagle Scraper source code from GitHub.

Beagle Scraper Beagle Scraper Usage

Beagle Scraper is an easy to use e-commerce scraper. These are the steps you need to do to start scraping:

  1. Create a file urls.txt (in the same folder with the source code) and paste product category pages. Insert each URL on a new line

Note: Because Beagle Scraper is a product category scraper, you can only provide category pages. Once you feed the scraper with a category page, it will start gathering data, change pages and scrape the whole category.

2. Run in a terminal the file

beagle scraper run 2 amazon scraper

3. Get the scraped data from the freshly created folder with the name job_dd_mmm_yyyy (output is a JSON file composed of list of products)

Optional – use proxychains and proxies to spread your requests over multiple IPs

Here is a short tutorial on how to setup proxychains and use it with a Python script.

As there is no login required, if you want to get private proxies for Beagle Proxies, I advise looking into SEO proxies, they are usually cheaper proxies, but they will do the job for scraping data of e-commerce websites.

TL:DR: After setting up proxychains and inserting your proxy details, run the command:

Beagle Scraper with proxychains scrape

How to Contribute

Your help in creating the largest open source e-commerce scraper is welcomed. Beagle Scraper requires a custom function for each individual e-commerce website.

Read the next part if you want to customize Beagle Scraper for any e-commerce website you need or if you want to contribute.

PART 2: Beagle Scraper Tutorial: How to modify the scraper

If you plan on using Beagle Scraper for another e-commerce website, or for browsing a product category list, you need to understand how Beagle Scraper gets its data and how you could modify the code. You only need to understand how the amazon_scraper() function gets the data. Once you understand this part, with some basic HTML knowledge, you can develop your own scraper function for other e-commerce websites.

How amazon_scraper() gets data from

Beagle Scraper does the simple job of getting each product HTML code from the listing. By using the Inspector in your browser, visualize what data is extracted.

beagle scraper html scrape details

By navigating to the category page and inspecting the listing, we can see that each product is contained with the div with class “s-item-container”. Check the Beagle Scraper code, you can see that this the function to extract all similar divs from the scraped page.

Following, all the scraped product divs are stored as a list of object in a variable called items_div. Here’s the actual code to find all divs and save them into the items_div variable.

If you need to change the store and scrape another website, this is the piece of code that you will need to change. You will need to adjust it to that website’s HTML class or id that contains the product details.

How product details are extracted

After all product data from the category page is extracted, the next task for Beagle Scraper is to loop through the items_div list and select each product.

The logic behind Beagle Scraper is simple: once a product div is selected, it looks for selected data to see if it exists and extracts it.

The data Beagle Scraper is looking for:

  • Product title
  • Product rating
  • Price
  • URL to product link page

The code for extract each product’s details is this one (Note that if statements are used only to verify if the product details are present – the logic is simple: if the element exists, save it: if doesn’t exist, skip and move to next detail):

Change page to extract all category products

Almost all categories on an e-commerce website have products spanning several pages. Once Beagle Scraper extracts all product details from a page, the change page logic will start looking for the pagination HTML details.

Here, Beagle Scraper does another simple and straightforward task of checking to see if the pagination details for next page exist. If it exists, it will output the scraped data, call a timeout to throttle the requests perform for this domain and change the page URL and call the scraper function – amazon_scraper() – again on the next page URL. However, if the current scraped page is the last one, Beagle Scraper will simply output the scraped data.

How the output is performed

I think I should mention a few things on how and when the scraped data is outputted. The function for outputting data is called output_file().

The output_file() function saves data as a list of dictionaries into JSON format whenever one of these situations occur:

  1. Beagle Scraper finishes scraping a URL (and changes the page or not)
  2. A pagination issue occur – when a URL will be fed twice into Beagle Scraper (in this situation will check for the URL in the log.csv scraped log and skip scraping it the second time – but it will try to output data, even if there is nothing to output) – this is more of a cautionary save, just to make sure no scraped data is lost.

Output data is saved into a folder (that is created with the first saved data inside the folder where the source code is located) with the name job_[dd_mmm_yy] to easily track the scraped data over several periods of time.

The output is in JSON format and can easily be accessed by any JSON reading function, (even written in another language – a necessary mention for those that just started coding), or manually with a text editor.

A few words on Beagle Scraper functions

The middleware functions are created to facilitate the scraper. These are helper functions and here are a few of them

  • scrape_log(open_link) – it takes the current parsed URL as variable, logs into a csv file all the URLs scraped so far. In case your scraper stopped or your machine powers off, you can check in the log_[scrape_date].csv the last scraped URL. And you can resume Beagle Scraper from this URL.
  • error_log(URL, error_message) – it takes the current parsed URL (URL )and a string for(error message) as variable. If you want to insert this function anywhere in the code, just replace URL with the page_link (the current parsed URL) and pass a string for error_message – the string is used to log the issue. For example, for pagination issues, this function is used as:
    • error_log(page_link, ‘Pagination issues’)
  • output_file(domain, products_list) – This is a self-explanatory function, it gets the domain of the currently scraped URL and the scraped data product_list list variable. It dumps the list of scraped items into a JSON file.
  • time_out(seconds) and pagination_timeout(seconds) – These functions are used to limit the number of requests. Their main purpose is to avoid blocks or IP bans due to the high number of requests. By default, these two functions have a low limit of 2 seconds. And the high limit is the seconds variable – which you can set to any number of seconds higher than 2. They will stop the scraper for a random number of seconds (between 2 and n number of seconds). For example, pagination_timeout(5), when changing the page, before starting to scrape the new page, will pause the scraper for a random number of seconds between 2 (minimum seconds) and 5 (the number of seconds you passed to the function).

What is

This file is used to open the urls.txt file and start Beagle Scraper and this is the sequence:

  1. Opens the urls.txt file
  2. Extract each URL (from each individual link)
  3. Checks if for the URL’s domain is a scraper function in
  4. If there is a function, it will call the function
  5. When the URL is parsed and product data scraped, it logs the URL
  6. Checks the next URL from urls.txt and repeats the process

PART 3: Beagle Scraper Tutorial: How to create a custom scraper function

This is the fun part, if you want to create a custom scraper function for an e-commerce website that is not supported yet by Beagle Scraper or if you want to just contribute to the project, here’s what you need to do:

  • Choose the website
  • Identify the HTML wrapper tags and CSS class (or id) for product listing
  • Add the pagination logic
  • Customize the to identify the domain and start the scraper

All these steps are easy to follow, so you can create a custom function in Beagle Scraper within minutes and start scraping. As I previously mentioned, the goal of Beagle Scraper is to become an e-commerce scraper easy to use by programmers and marketers alike. Let’s start!

Choose the website

First, before considering developing a custom function, I recommend you check if the website you want to scrape has an API that you can use and access. If the API exists, consider using it. However, you should consider creating a scraper function if the API:

  • Limits the number of requests
  • You can’t access it
  • The API implementation requires a lot of effort and is time-consuming

In this tutorial, I chose for building the custom scraper function called homedepot_scraper(). While they have an API, this API is “unofficial” and there is no clear documentation on their API and its use cases. So, let’s create a scraper function for

Before you start building the scraper function, you need a category URL around which to develop the homedepot_scraper(). Consider the following category page:

Create a product list

After deciding for what website to create the scraper, you need to do three things:

  1. Create a new empty product list at the top of under the format [website]_products_list
  2. Define the scraper function
  3. Copy the code from another scraper function (for example from amazon_scraper() function) within the new scraper function (in this case homedepot_scraper()) and replace the product list amazon_products_list with homedepot_products_list

Here’s the first part of the homedepot_scraper, the part that opens the URL and starts the scraper

Extract product details (#DATA EXTRACTION)

Now the next step is to get the HTML tags and CSS classes and id for data that will be extracted. With the Inspect Element from your browser, you need to get the HTML and CSS wrapping the product details. In the HomeDepot case, each product is contained within this div.

beagle scraper tutorial - html inspect source

And within this div, the product details that we need to extract are:

  • Product title
  • Product page URL
  • Product Price

Once we get these details, the next step is to insert them in the data extraction part of the homedepot_scraper() with the custom BeautifulSoup4 format. You need to insert these details within the loop that iterates through the <div class=”pod-inner”> items.

Let’s change the page (#PAGINATION setup)

The final part of constructing a custom scraper function is to make the scraper identify if there are other pages with products within this category. The logic behind the pagination setup is the following:

  • Identify if there is a next page button (or URL) within the pagination setup
  • Output current page extracted data to file
  • Call the scraper on the “next page” URL and restart the process

Now we need to setup the scraper function to identify if there is a next page button and insert it into the BeautifulSoup format.

beagle scraper tutorial - pagination

Because we use the find_all() BS4 function, Beagle Scraper will extract all URLs from the pagination setup. Thus, we need to instruct the scraper to choose for the Next page only the last URL from the all extracted URLs. As you can see, these are all the urls the find_all() function extracted from the pagination. But we are only interested in the next page URL, which is actually the last item of this list and hast the title=”Next”. Now we need to instruct Beagle Scraper that while the last URL on the pagination list has the title “Next”, it should consider this <a> tag’s href as the next page to scrape and self-call homedepot_scraper() on this URL.

beagle scraper tutorial - pagination url tags

Assign a variable for the next page URL and within the HTML tag for Next page button, you need to extract the URLs. In the homedepot case, the URL doesn’t have the root domain, so you will need to prepend in as a string.

And… you’re done! This is all you need to do for creating a new Beagle Scraper function. The last step is to modify the file to recognize the domain and call the homedepot_scraper().

Modify the file to add

A little backdrop on how Beagle Scraper works.

  1. You insert all product category URLs within the urls.txt file
  2. Then you run the file that opens and loops through urls.txt file content
  3. identifies the domain of the URLs and calls the custom scraper function

Now we need to create the logic for third steps for the URLs by appending the code to identify the domain and call the homedepot_scraper. This is done through with the following logic:

Start scraping!

Well done! You have created your own custom function for Beagle Scraper. All you have to do now is to start scraping some data.

To wrap up

I think this is all there is to know about Beagle Scraper. With the above information at hand, you can modify the scraper of simply develop it by creating custom scraper functions for other e-commerce websites.


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