Advantage Solutions is a leading business solutions provider offering data and technology-enabled omnichannel solutions for consumer goods manufacturers and retailers. We have offices throughout North America, and we service multinational, regional, and local manufacturers across the world. I am the Director of Technology for one of our brands, Canopy. We aggregate data to give our clients a better idea of what the retail and eCommerce landscapes look like for them, including customer reviews. Often retailers have their own portal, but we aggregate the data across multiple retail portals, so that they have a one-stop-shop where they can access all the information they need.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everyone started shopping online, so our business significantly grew. When brands were seeing only 1-3% of their revenue come from online sales, it wasn’t very valuable for them to spend time and resources on eCommerce; but now they understand that this is a growing market, and that if they invest more in it, they’ll see better results. As online retailers are getting more sales online, they need to make sure that their products are in stock and that they each have good descriptions and images online. Retailers also need to make sure they have enhanced content, displaying their products in the best possible light so they can convert views into sales.
When our company originally started Canopy, we were trying to gather data for our customers, and we quickly ran into blocks. Most of the time, these blocks were caused by the fact that we had traffic coming from one IP address. So, Canopy started working with a proxy company, but very quickly it used up all of their IP addresses and couldn’t reach the required data again.
About three years ago, we found Luminati Networks, now Bright Data, which has about 72 million IP addresses. There is a lot of availability through the Residential Network and the Data Center Network. Having access to so many IP addresses allowed us to get the data we needed. In late 2020, we also started using the Bright Data Web Unlocker, which has been great for us.
My favorite thing about working with Bright Data is the effort they put into trying to figure out which headers we need. Having the ability to reach out and say, “Hey, we need to pass this header,” and having it turned around within a day or two with a custom header, is very valuable to us. Bright Data is not just a proxy network. We work with a team of talented engineers from Bright Data; I don’t know how many emails we’ve exchanged, but it’s been a great partnership. Due to the nature of our working with multiple sources of public data, there is always firefighting and there are always interruptions, and we work on these issues together with Bright Data’s engineers.
Looking ahead, we plan to continue finding the data that we believe our customers would be interested in seeing. Sometimes we run through the data, and we think: “Our customers would be interested in knowing this,” or “This is hurting our customers.” That’s what is going to set us apart from our competition that just aggregates data. We have different reports that we’ve put together that are fairly unique in the market and tailored to our customers’ unique needs.
Last week, for example, we were trying to collect 9 million page loads in three days. You cannot achieve that with one, two, or three IP addresses; you need many more. We plan to stick with Bright Data in the future to have access to all the IP addresses we need and, with that, continue to help our customers succeed with the support of the right data.