Price Grabbing Play.com

Posted January 27th, 2013 by Christopher in News | Leave a comment

So they don’t exist as an independent entity anymore, but their marketplace may start becoming more useful to myself. The final decision comes down to price, but how to incoporate these in to iGPC?

AFAIK, Play.com has no API*, no RSS feeds, no mobile site, no other simplified way of accessing data – hell, their site doesn’t even allow search by barcode. So, how do? Same as eBay.

* Actually, they do have an API, though the primary one is only available to subscription ProTraders, and only allows limited functionality to reference current items being sold under your account, no wider access to the catalogue.

The plus side is, Play.com tents to use (and *only* use) the official manufacture titles for items, and like Amazon (or even more so) they only show up in a single item page. Which means a search through the standard site, in the right category, for the proper title, should bring up your item as either the only result, or at least the first result.

Double plus, the current lowest New and Used prices are shown on the same page – given Play.com’s inevitable high reliance on people simply picking the lowest priced item (an educated guess at this point), this is probably the only price you wanna pay attention to.

A standard URL search string is this, which is normally shown in a textualised form to end users when browsing (eg. …/Games/PlayStation 3/Consoles/…):

Option A (using only searchfilters query):

http://www.play.com/Search.html?searchfilters=s{XCOM:+Enemy+Unknown}+c{362}+c{10065}+

Option B (seperate searchstring and searchfilters queries, primary difference being this will visually display the category navigation on the page):

http://www.play.com/Search.html?searchstring=XCOM:+Enemy+Unknown&searchfilters=c{362}+c{10065}+

URL and Query Formatting:
http://www.play.com/Search.html? – Search root.
searchfilters= – Prefix to any filters relating to search queries.
s{Title Here} – Search string, insert title between brackets, standard real-world formatting can be used (eg. “Here: Is an – Example”) but preferably convert spaces to “+”. Blame unix. Or blame windows for ever allowing them without. Or something.
+ – Seperates any search filter – as above, you can leave them out, but best not…
c{362} – Root category, this *must* go before any subcategory. In this case, it’s Games. Full list added below shortly.
c{10065} – Primary Sub category, in this case PlayStation 3. These can be left off to just search the root.
c{3707} – Secondary sub category. Varies depending on main cat, for Games this usually includes various game generes, Accessories, and Consoles. In this case, PS3 Accessories.
+ – Trailing “+” – in browsers, this is added automatically if left out, and best to keep it there. It’s not required, though coders will need to enable the CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION flag if it’s not used.

Additional Extras:
&ob= – Additional option for search result ordering. 0 = “Best Selling” (or alternatively leave the query out and it defaults to this). 1 = A-Z (best option if searching by a full title – ie. it puts all re-release / limited edition results later on), 2 = Z-A, 3 = Price High to Low, 4 = Price Low to High, 5 = Customer Rating, 6 = Release Date,
& – Inserting an additional ampersand (&) proceeded by a blank space within the queries section (ie. a blank query) results in a bug removing most of the Play.com header and sidebar, consequently saving over 10,000 characters in the HTML (approx. 10% of the entire file). Useful for cURLing pages, then. Eg: http://www.play.com/Search.html?& &searchfilters=s{XCOM:+Enemy+Unknown}+c{362}+c{10065}+ Note that the exact placement of the blank query may need to be adjusted on how many other queries you have present.

General URL Info:

A standard URL as available for a Play.com listing = http://www.play.com/Games/Xbox360/4-/28742448/XCOM-Enemy-Unknown/Product.html

Made up of root / primary category / sub category 1 / sub category 2 / item sku / item title / page type.

However, a number of these can be ignored / blanked out, though the structure can’t actually be changed / removed altogether.

The name can be blanked (-), as can sub-category 2 (it is by default 4- when no sub-sub cat is available). Eg. http://www.play.com/Games/Xbox360/-/28742448/-/Product.html

The primary sub category can actually be any sub category of the main category, the SKU will still bring up the right data.Eg. http://www.play.com/Games/PC/-/28742448/-/Product.html

And infact, the main category can be any category, so long as subcat1 is a correct subcat of it. There’s some exceptions to this (/DVD/DVD/ only brings up DVD results) but in general, this URL will work for any SKU: http://www.play.com/toys/toys/-/28742448/-/product.html?&+ (blank query added to create branding removal detailed above) . Bear in mind however that some SKUs (music items specifically) will redirect / update the URL as they use a slightly differing URL structure, though hopefully CURLOPT_FOLLOWLOCATION will solve this as mentioned earlier.

Search Result:
Data to parse shows as follows (ymmv, if they change the code as often as eBay do):

17 New  from  £23.99  FREE delivery

Available  used  from  £19.99

Root Categories:

34 – Music
57 – DVD
91 – Books
321 – Electronics
362 – (Video / Computer) Games
363 – Sports & Outdoors
397 – Mobile
420 – Computing
439 – Gifts & Gadgets
470 – Clothing
600 – Blu-ray
2317 – Toys
4854 – Baby
4855 – Office

Primary Sub Categories:

362 – (Video / Computer) Games

10005 – Game Boy Advance
10006 – Gamecube
10009 – PC
10010 – Sony PS2
10018 – Xbox
10047 – Nintendo DSi & DS (inc. 3DS)
10041 – Sony PSP (inc. Vita)
10049 – Xbox 360
10065 – Sony PS3
10066 – Nintendo Wii (inc. Wii U)

Secondary Sub Categories:

362 – (Video / Computer) Games
10065 – Sony PS3
3707 – Accessories
4658 – Consoles

362 – (Video / Computer) Games
10010 – Sony PS2
4174 – Accessories
4661 – Consoles

362 – (Video / Computer) Games
10047 – Nintendo DSi & DS (inc. 3DS)
3985 – Accessories
4659 – Consoles

362 – (Video / Computer) Games
10041 – Sony PSP (inc. Vita)
4155 – Accessories
4660 – Consoles

362 – (Video / Computer) Games
10049 – Xbox 360
3798 – Accessories
4656 – Consoles

362 – (Video / Computer) Games
10065 – Sony PS3
3707 – Accessories
4658 – Consoles

362 – (Video / Computer) Games
10066 – Nintendo Wii (inc. Wii U)
3892 – Accessories
4657 – Consoles

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