This new website tells you if a Takealot deal is good


A new website makes it easy for Takealot shoppers to see whether they are scoring a good deal on a discounted product or whether the saving shown to them has been overstated.

Servaltracker.com records the daily historic listed and selling prices of popular products on South Africa’s biggest ecommerce site and presents these in a simple graph.

To check the pricing history of a particular product, visitors must copy the URL of the product from Takealot’s site.

The generated graph will then show the product’s pricing from the date that Serval started tracking it.

Users can move their cursor over the data points in the graph to view specific pricing for each day.

The image below shows the Serval home page, a discounted TV on Takealot at the time of publication, and the pricing history for that product as collected by the site.

Serval’s creator is Cape Town-based Ashton Hudson, a data engineer who works with time-series information in his day-to-day job.

Hudson told MyBroadband he created the site out of frustration for not having price history information when trying to buy products from Takealot.

He wanted a tool that could inform him of the best time to buy a product.

“I quickly whipped together a bare-bones project that just displays prices and runs on a cheap GCP (Google Cloud Platform instance,” Hudson said.

Hudson used the Python-based open-source task queue protocol Celery to create a simple “worker” that walks through paginated responses from Takealot’s API and scrape the pricing data. He wrote the script within a week.

To limit its impact on Takealot’s servers and minimise the time it takes to scrape the data, Serval does not track all the products on Takealot.

“It only tracks the top-rated products or products that people explicitly search for on Serval,” Hudson explained.

“Serval is designed to be as polite to the Takealot servers as possible and employs a lot of internal rate-limiting to prevent any perceivable load.”

“There’s a bunch of timeouts, and I have optimised it to only fire a couple of queries a second to vastly limit load against Takealot’s servers,” he added.

Hudson said he currently tracks about 500,000 popular products on Takealot.

Hudson said he made two notable findings from the data he has collected so far.

Firstly, the prices of Takealot’s Daily Deals were consistently good.

However, he advised that shoppers shouldn’t always trust the “% off” description for other deals.

“Since I have the database with all this price information, I have crafted a query that can highlight products that have dubious price histories,” he said.

“Some of the companies selling through Takealot adjust the ‘listing’ price to make it look like their products are on more of a discount than they really are.”

Numerous MyBroadband readers have also highlighted this same practice in the past.

Takealot previously told MyBroadband it showed its discounts against the list price and not the regular selling price, which is why they might appear bigger.

It also said that listed prices were determined by the recommended retail selling price, as suggested by the supplier of the relevant product, and not by Takealot itself.

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