If you want to create an affiliate store, deal site, or dropshipping store, you will need to add products to your site. There is no better way than to use the WooCommerce product scraper plugin to automate that process instead of manually adding items.
For that purpose, you will need a good plugin for importing products. While there are many available solutions available, most of them require that you have a feed which will be used to import products.
But what if you don’t have a feed or just want to import several selected products? In this case, you will need a content crawler or scraper plugin. But most content scraper plugins require setup or are complicated to use as some require setting visual selectors. You need something simpler.
That is why in this External Importer Pro review, I will show you how you can import an unlimited number of products just by copy/pasting URLs from the desired store.
WooCommerce Product Scraper Plugin – External Importer Pro Review
The External Importer plugin comes from the same developers who created Affiliate Egg, Content Egg, and Cashback Tracker Pro plugin. You can check my Content Egg review and Content Egg vs Datafeedr comparison for more info about it.
External Importer Pro is a WooCommerce product scraper plugin that lets you extract product data from various eCommerce websites and import them to WooCommerce. You don’t need API access or CSV or XML feeds.
The plugin extracts all available product information from store sites. All you need to do is enter the listing URL or the product URL, and the plugin will do the rest. You don’t need to bother with CSV files or use the API at all. You get to manage all of the information that you import. Product availability and prices will be automatically updated.
External Importer will even use your existing affiliate IDs to create affiliate links for all external products automatically. You can even set the margins for dropshipping products if you manage a dropshipping store and use External Importer to import hot selling products from other stores.
- Automatic synchronization – The plugin will update product availability and current prices for every item that you import. You can set that any out of stock items are automatically removed.
- Automatic imports – You can set automatic importing, and new items will be added automatically to your site.
- The ability to import unlimited products – You can add as many products from different stores as you need.
- Prevent getting blocked – The plugin is configured to read and adhere to cookie sessions, daily query quotas, random query intervals, real browsers’ headers, requests throttling, robots.txt rules, user-agents rotations, etc., so that you don’t get blocked when extracting product data form website.
- Create affiliate sites quickly – The plugin simplifies creating niche sites with WooCommerce.
- Always up to date prices – You can set intervals for product price updates.
- Add affiliate links – You can use deep links or dynamically change links into affiliate links.
- Create dropshipping store – Items can be imported as “simple” WooCommerce products for dropshipping needs. You can even set rules for markups.
- Affiliate Egg integration – Using the Affiliate Egg Pro plugin and External Importer combination, you can use Affiliate Egg parsers to extract products.
- Image galleries – You can display featured images and galleries from external websites without saving them to your site WordPress media library.
- Dynamic categories – Products will be added to their respective category automatically, making it easier to import products in bulk.
Keep in mind that when using External Importer Pro, you can get blocked when attempting extraction of large amounts of product data. Your bot can be blocked if it goes over the maximum number of hourly or daily data requests for a particular website. In that case, your hosting IP address can receive restrictions.
The general rule of thumb for using External Importer is to send as few requests as possible to target sites. You will want to break down larger requests into smaller data extractions spread over a few days.
Auto imports, price updates, and automated requests are the only things that will be blocked. If you extract products manually by entering the URL on the Product Import page to extract information, there are no limits you need to watch out for.
How External Importer Pro Works?
After the plugin is installed and activated, you must enter your license key in the plugin settings. Without entering a license, you are not able to see settings or do anything with the plugin.
Be noted that you also need WooCommerce installed for External Importer to work. External Importer supports simple products and external/affiliate products. It doesn’t support virtual, variable, grouped, or other product types.
You can import products from most public eCommerce sites. A special set of parsers was created to pull product information from target HTML web pages. The plugin uses Structured Data Parsers and Advanced Parsers.
Structured data parsers can extract data such as Title, Image, Price, Currency, Availability, and Description. The amount of data extracted will vary from one store to another. Structured data parsers typically retrieve less information than advanced parsers.
Advanced Parsers can extract the most product data. External Importer supports more than 90 stores for advanced parsers. Using advanced parsers, you can extract additional data such as Brand, Category, Gallery images, User reviews, Old price, and Specifications, along with information extracted using structured parsers. You can see here all advanced parsers supported stores.
The downside of advanced parsers is that each store requires a unique parser to be developed for it. You can create these advanced parsers if you have the skills and knowledge to do so. You can also pay the External Importer team to create advanced parsers for you. They charge $50 for each parser that they create.
Using advanced parsers, you can import both individual products and entire website sections with auto pagination by listing pages. If you use the Affiliate Egg plugin, you can use its parsers (including custom parsers) within External Importer.
How To Prevent Blocking?
External Importer’s bot was created not to cause inconveniences to other websites. For instance, you can set that the bot complies with robots.txt rules of websites and has request limits. You can find the settings under External Importer > Settings > Extractor.
External Importer keeps track of all requests made in a 24-hour period. It will block any requests that are above the daily limit setting. You can set blocking for either an hour or 24 hours. This will stop new queries if multiple errors consecutively are received from the target site.
Proxies can also be used to avoid blocking. To add proxies, go to External Importer > Settings > Extractor > Proxy list.
Product Importer Settings
Under General Settings you can enable email alerts. This is useful in case you set auto-imports or updates. Log Alerts feature allows you to specify which types of alerts you want to log to DB. There is also an option to enter the Fixer API key. This is useful if you wish to automatically convert imported currencies.
Import Settings section consists of useful features. You will want to enable the “Avoid duplicates option.” From my testing, it seems the plugin recognizes duplicate products based on product title. This means if the product has a slightly different name in another store, the plugin will not recognize it as a duplicate. This is unfortunate as most stores have slightly different product names for the same product.
Avoid duplicate option is good for preventing adding the same product already imported from a particular store. But it will not be useful if you want to prevent importing that same product from a different store.
Under the “Product Type” option you choose either a Simple product type (good form dropshipping store) or an External/affiliate product (good for niche affiliate site).
You can set if you wish to import product description (short, full description, and auto), set to create category automatically from product data, choose to save imported images and galleries to the library or hotlink them, etc.
The plugin will automatically update the stock status and prices of items imported to the WooCommerce store. To set synchronization options go to External Importer > Settings > Synchronization.
There are two product update methods available – Frontend synchronization and Cron synchronization.
Frontend synchronization will occur when the visitor loads (visit) the product page. The advantage of this mode is that only products with actual traffic will be updated. The main problem with this method is that brief delays may occur when those pages are loaded.
Cron synchronization uses WordPress cron to run scheduled updates in the background. You don’t need to set up any additional cron. Synchronization script will launch every 10 minutes, and up to 2,500 products can be updated daily.
You can set to update price, regular price, stock status, select update period, how to deal with out of stock products, set to only update published products, and enable if you want to delete product images when deleting a particular product.
New domains will be added to the External Importer > Settings > Deeplinks page automatically as new products are imported from different websites. You can also manually add domains to this list if you want.
The affiliate parameter or Deeplink for particular domains will need to be set if you want affiliate links created from direct links.
The plugin makes it easy to create a dropshipping site and set margin rules thanks to the Dropshipping option in the plugin settings. These rules must be configured before you import products. Markups will take effect when prices are updated. You can assign separate values for each domain and price range.
External Importer works with any WooCommerce-compatible theme. There are some useful features in “Frontend” settings like show date when the price for the product was last updated, show affiliate disclaimer, enable local redirect for affiliate links, overwrite the button text for the external product, set redirect status, add redirect prefix, and few translation options.
You can change the text of the affiliate disclaimer per your needs and buy button text.
How To Import Products?
To start importing items, go to the External Importer menu and click on the “Product Import” option. The next step is to copy/paste the URL of any store site you want to extract data from. You can extract data from two types of pages: Listing and Products.
The Products page is intended for extracting data from the single product URL page. You can add more than one URL at the same time here. These pages will usually have a product price, image, description, and other details.
The Listing page is a collection of items according to the search query or product category. In these cases, the parser will extract all the links on that page automatically.
List page extraction is an easier and quicker option because you can extract products in bulk. Automatic pagination is also supported.
Products from the current page will be the only items extracted if pagination isn’t automatically detected. If that happens, you will need to specify the next page manually.
You can add extracted products to your WooCommerce store by clicking the “Import” button one by one next to each product you wish to add to the site. You can also bulk import extracted products, or you can set that products are automatically imported during extraction.
There is even an “Auto Import” feature where you can set a schedule for External Importer to automatically check at the specified interval specified Listing URL and automatically import new products.
Products are checked by URL, and pagination doesn’t work in this case.
External Importer vs. Content Egg vs. Affiliate Egg
The same developer created several plugins to work with various affiliate programs and help import products to WordPress site. I’ve compared External Importer, Content Egg and Affiliate Egg plugins so that you can select best option for your needs.
External Importer Pro
- Plugin doesn’t require access to API or CSV and XML feeds to import products. Data is extracted directly from store sites just by copy/pasting URLs.
- Its fixed set of advanced parsers can extract product reviews, images, descriptions, attributes and other information.
- Its advanced parsers can extract information from about 75 -85% of eCommerce sites.
- External Importer will only work with WooCommerce. Its intuitive interface makes automatically importingdata to WooCommerce simple.
- Products can be extracted from listing pages and from individual products URL.
- The auto import option can automatically import products to site depending on set schedule.
- It’s the ideal option for creating niche affiliate sites and dropshipping sites with WooCommerce.
Content Egg Pro
- Content Egg Pro uses official Product APIs and has decent number of modules that can be used for different affiiliate networks.
- You have to look for products by entering keywords and adding products manually.
- There are modules to import news, images, videos and other relevant content.
- You can set autoblog according to specific keywords.
- The plugin works well with WooCommerce but it doesn’t require it in order to work.
- You can add multiple products to the same post.
- You can use shortcodes to show products. Different display templates are available.
- It’s the preferred solution for daily deals sites, price comparison sites and product review blogs.
Affiliate Egg Pro
- You don’t need API access, because it operates as a web parser.
- There’s a predetermined list of stores that are supported.
- Listing URLs and direct product URLs are used to extract product data.
- WooCommerce isn’t supported. However, you can still use Content Egg to connect.
- Affiliate Egg parsers can be used as individual modules for Content Egg.
- It’s a solid choice for use as a Content Egg data source (to support store sites that don’t require API integration) and for embedding different product blocks in an individual blog post.
External Importer Pro Review Summary
External Importer is a great WooCommerce product scraper plugin. I like that plugin doesn’t have too much complicated settings, and it is easy to use. If you are not sure what a certain setting does, you can always check plugin documentation.
Also, there is no complicated extraction involved where you have to match the parts you need on the target page, and the corresponding WordPress field with the visual selector like many other WooCommerce product scraper plugins require.
External Importer PROS
With External Importer, you just copy/paste the URL from the desired site and let the plugin do its job. I think it can’t get simpler than that. There is no need for API access or feeds. The plugin automatically fills all fields that are supported, as if you had manually filled them out.
The plugin can import single product pages and products listings like categories, search results, etc., and works with pagination (crawling for articles will continue on the next page of the seed page). You can even set the plugin to work on autopilot and import products at scheduled intervals.
The plugin will even update prices and other relevant data. There is the ability to increase imported product prices by a fixed number, which is a great value for dropshipping purposes.
Images can be added to your media library, or you can hotlink them from external sites without saving them to your website. This includes featured images and galleries.
To prevent getting blocked, there are useful settings and option to add proxies. Crawling and scraping can be set to respect the robots.txt files of websites and robots HTML headers of scraped pages.
External Importer CONS
Unfortunately, there is no option to remove specific words and phrases from the scraped text with the regular expression-supported find & replace feature or replace them with your own words during import. This is a big deal-breaker for me.
Most stores stuff keywords in product titles for SEO purposes. Just look at products on Amazon, and you will see many products which titles have more than 200 characters. Here is an example: “RFID Carbon Fiber Wallets for Men – Minimalist Aluminum Wallet for Men – Carbon Fiber Money Clip Wallet Metal – Men’s Carbon Fiber Wallet Slim – Men’s Wallet Carbon Fiber Card Holder with Money Clip.”
You will probably want to remove most of those words from the title or replace them with your own during import (especially if importing many products). External Importer doesn’t have that feature, so you are left with manually editing those.
Another disadvantage is that there is no option to add filters to automatically skip products that contain specific keywords in the title, for example. This would be very useful in the auto-import feature.
While not a big con, I think that plugin should offer integration with 3rd party spinner services like Spin Rewriter (check Spin Rewriter review), WordAi (check WordAi review), etc. You are basically importing product descriptions from other sites and importing them to your site. That is duplicate content, and there is no SEO benefit from it.
Offering integration with article rewriter services for those interested in using them would be nice feature. But you can still make it work using WordPress Article Rewriter & Auto Spinner plugin.
Now that I mention integration with third-party tools, it is worth noting that there is also no option to automatically translate scraped content in a specific language using services like Bing Microsoft Translator, DeepL Translator, Google Translate, or Yandex Translate service. But you can always use plugins like Weglot (check Weglot review), WPML (see WPML review), etc.
External Importer offers integration with Affiliate Egg. But I would like to see External Importer integration with Content Egg. This would be a powerful combination for creating price comparison websites.
WooCommerce Product Grabber Conclusion
Regarding product importing, the plugin really works great. In my testing of the plugin, there were far more sites from which the plugin was able to import products than those from which it was unable to extract product data (rarely). While I didn’t do any massive product imports, I didn’t experience any significant issues with plugin usage or importing products.
The plugin’s current price is $49.99/year for one site, $69.99/year for three sites, and $99.99/year for usage on ten sites. After 1 year, renewals are very generous and affordable, so the price of the plugin, taking into consideration what you get, is appropriate.
Considering that, I highly recommend the External Importer Pro plugin for anyone who needs a simple way of populating your store with various products from different stores.
External Importer Pro
- Extraction product data from sites involves just copy/paste of URLs
- Can extract products from paginated pages
- Auto import feature
- Dropshipping settings
- Option to save images locally or hotlink them from external sites
- Prevent getting blocked settings
- Automatic synchronization
- No free version
- No option to remove specific words and phrases during import
- No option to automatically skip products from extracting
- No integration with third-party tools
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