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How much would it cost to buy one of everything on Amazon?

This question originally appeared on Quora: How much would it cost to buy one of everything on Amazon? Answer by Kynan Eng, who works in brain-related research & commercialization at universities and startups.

It would cost about $12.86 billion to buy one of everything on Amazon. I calculated this value as follows:

  • According to export-x.com, the main Amazon website offered 488 million items in 2015. Of these, an estimated 479 million are available (see below).
  • I estimate the average price of an item on Amazon is $26.86, with an uncertainty (standard error of the mean) of $6.03.

To estimate the average price of all Amazon items, I followed the following procedure:

  1. Go to RandomAmazonProduct.com. As the domain name implies, this site gives you a link to a random Amazon product. No, I don’t know why this site exists either.
  2. Discard the product if it is free or not available, but keep a tally of these.
  3. If more than one price is available, select the product price highlighted in red (this is the one that Amazon probably wants you to buy). If that is not available, select the first price listed looking from top to bottom, then from left to right.
  4. Repeat until 100 non-zero items are collected. Yes, I really wasted my time doing this. I thought about trying to crowdsource this data collection, or writing a bot to do it, but that would have been more work.

By the time I had 100 non-zero items, I had collected 104 items in total (100 non-zero price, two free, two not available). So we have valid price data on 102 items. Below is a frequency price distribution histogram for the 102 items. The median price was $14.16. The number of unavailable items is estimated as 488 million * (2/104), leaving us with 479 million available items.

From the histogram, we can see:

  • Most frequently, things cost $0.01-$5.
  • A small number of items cost over $100.
  • Once you get above $30, pricing gravitates towards values like $39.99 and $49.99.

Interesting point: One item cost $588.50. If this item is removed, the mean changes to $21.30 with a SEM of $2.36. That outlier has a big influence, but is probably valid in indicating the long tail of Amazon item prices.

For full disclosure, here is the list of random products. (data obtained 2016-01-26).

If someone reading this works in Amazon IT infrastructure, I guess it would be quite easy for them to simply pull up the relevant database tables and do this calculation exactly.

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