Saturday, 19 March 2011

Ocado admits to scraping Tesco web site to get price-matches

At the Retail Week conference, Ocado CFO Andrew Bracey admitted that they scrape the Tesco grocery site in order to get Tesco prices with which they price match with 8,000 of their own products.

Sitting in the audience, I was intrigued by Ocado's admission that they scrape our site (that is, run scripts from client machines that mechanically operate our web site pretending to be a human customer. Such scripts will loop through every department, aisle and shelf, and then harvest the text of all the products that appear on the page).

It seems that the days of getting prices by wandering around competitors' branches and making notes has long gone in the digital age!

Please note: It is possible to use the Tesco Grocery API to copy all the products from our site, However using such data for price comparisons is expressly forbidden in the API's terms and conditions of use. If we detect this happening, we reserve the right to suspend or terminate your Tesco API's developer account.


  1. I suppose the only question here is to query how Tesco use technology to drive their price check service against ASDA. Whereas it's clear ASDA use a market aggregator (, are we to assume that Tesco's service is entirely updated manually by prices updated from ASDA stores? And that there is no temptation to use similar crawling for updates against

  2. Very interested to hear your response on this one Nick.

  3. Plenty of companies do this, nothing new!

    I work for the dixons group (PC World/Currys) and they also do this.

  4. Nick - how does get its prices - given that what it's doing is expressly forbidden (price comparison)?

    Hugo (ex. Digital Entertainment ;-))

  5. Nothing new. Ocado was scolded by the ASA in 2009 for poorly price scraping Tesco while claiming to price match Tesco. There were rumours that Tesco was playing with prices on their website to catch Ocado out - true or not I have no idea.

  6. Hi Nick,

    Whats the best place to get hold of your API? I'm looking to show a developer of mine to assess how it would link up to my meal planning website.

    Won't be scraping anything so don't worry!


  7. If you want to email me, or would like me to email you then you can get me at


  8. Oh dear.... whiter than white Tesco complaining about ocado scraping its site for prices? then how come a company that sells automated site scraping solutions proudly boast that tesco is one of their customers? they even include the tesco logo on their site.


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