Scraping 25M Shopify Products: The Struggles and Lessons Learned


Have you ever thought about building a search engine for e-commerce products? Imagine being able to search through millions of products listed on platforms like Shopify to find exactly what you’re looking for. One entrepreneur attempted this ambitious feat, and while their journey had its challenges, it offers valuable insights for anyone considering a similar endeavor.

@senecaso, the entrepreneur in question, shared their experience in a comment thread on Hacker News. They built an e-commerce search engine called, which indexed over 100k Shopify shops and more than 100 million products. Their goal was to provide users with a comprehensive search experience, keep costs low, and attract organic user growth.

However, despite their efforts, they faced difficulties that ultimately led to the demise of their project. Let’s delve into the key insights from their experience and explore the challenges they encountered along the way.

The Cost of Operation

One major challenge that @senecaso highlighted was the financial burden of operating the search engine. With a monthly expenditure of approximately $550, they needed to keep their costs low to maintain sustainability. However, reducing costs alone wasn’t sufficient to ensure success.

The Elusive User Acquisition

Acquiring users proved to be a significant hurdle for Despite having partnerships with numerous Shopify shops and a user base that purchased sponsored items, they struggled to gain traction and attract a large enough audience. The site operated for over a year, but the lack of user growth ultimately led them to shut it down.

The Role of Comparison Engines

In the comment thread, there was a mention of price comparison engines in the European market. These engines, such as, Pricerunner, and, offer users the ability to compare prices across multiple online retailers. They are popular among consumers as a way to find the best deals and make informed purchasing decisions.

However, concerns were raised about the reliance of some comparison engines on affiliate fees, which can influence the products displayed as “best” or “cheapest.” This raises questions about the fairness and impartiality of these platforms. Nevertheless, these engines highlight the demand for comprehensive product search solutions in the e-commerce space.

The Importance of User-Focused Solutions

@DeathArrow suggested that a potential monetization strategy for a search engine is to transform it into a sales platform. By allowing users to buy directly from the search results, the platform could provide a seamless and convenient shopping experience. This approach could potentially address the problem of jumping between multiple websites while searching for products.

The Challenges of Organic Growth

In their response, @senecaso mentioned their attempts at generating organic user growth. They posted in forums, engaged with the community, and even had posts on Hacker News that generated short-lived bursts of traffic. However, without sufficient marketing expertise and capital, they struggled to sustain and grow their user base.

Looking back, they acknowledged the need for marketing expertise to drive organic growth. Having someone with a marketing background on board could have potentially helped them reach a wider audience and overcome the challenges of user acquisition.

Lessons Learned and Moving Forward

@senecaso’s experience with serves as a valuable case study for anyone considering building a search engine for e-commerce products. It highlights the importance of striking a balance between cost, user acquisition, and monetization strategies. It also sheds light on the challenges of organic growth and the need for marketing expertise to generate traction.

While the journey of had its ups and downs, it presents lessons that can guide future entrepreneurs. The e-commerce search engine landscape is ripe with opportunities, but successfully navigating it requires thoughtful planning, user-focused solutions, and a comprehensive marketing strategy.

So, if you’re thinking about scraping millions of products to build a search engine, take the lessons from to heart. With the right approach, a solid marketing strategy, and a user-centric focus, you may just create the next game-changing platform in the e-commerce space.

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