It’s the middle of the night and inspiration strikes: You need a new pair of jeans, shoes, a better bike helmet, and a great book. What do you do?
If you’re like most people (244 million of them, to be exact), you hop online and head to Amazon, add some stuff to your cart, and order away.
The U.S.-based website features over 480 million products, so no matter what you need – whether it’s socks or truffle oil – you’ll probably find it. It’s your one-stop super shop, without the limitations of shelf space.
Of course, Amazon isn’t the only business taking advantage of virtual space. Netflix houses over 5,000 movies and TV shows on its virtual shelves (which is lower than previous years, but still a significant number). And Spotify features over 30 million songs (including 4 million that have never once been played through the service).
With online services like these offering such massive collections of books, movies, music, and truffle oil, we wondered: What would those same businesses look like if they were brick-and-mortar stores? What would it take to house 4 million unplayed songs, 5,000 movies, or 480 million products?
Interesting question, right? That’s why we did the math to figure it out.
If Netflix Had a Retail Location
If starting tomorrow, Netflix decided to house its collection and serve its 83 million subscribers out of a retail store, that store would cover 140.7 square miles (that’s about the size of Detroit, Michigan, and about 7 million times larger than the average Blockbuster).
The average walking speed is three miles per hour; just circling the outer aisles of that imaginary Netflix building – without slowing your pace to peruse the shelves – would take roughly eight straight days.
What would other online stores look like if they turned into local brick-and-mortar hot spots? Spotify would make our Detroit-sized Netflix seem small. It would cover 64,053.6 square miles – about 37 times larger than Anchorage, Alaska.
Forget browsing for days. Finding your favorite CD in a store that size could take years.
If Yelp Were Lonely Planet
When it comes to finding the best restaurant, hairdresser, or cafe in town, Yelp provides over 145 million people with operating hours, location information, and – most importantly – reviews and star ratings.
What if Yelp took all that information and put it into a printed travel guide? Honestly, it’d be pretty unreadable – at almost a mile tall.
Welcome to Amazon
Let’s talk about our online superstore: What if Amazon took its 480 million–plus products and arranged them on the shelves of a store?
The answer is that it would cover almost 16 square miles – about two-thirds the size of Manhattan and 4,066 times the size of an average Wal-Mart – and would include everything from noise-canceling earbuds to celebrity pillowcases.
Huffington Post as a Print Newspaper
Remember that scene in “While You Were Sleeping” when the paperboy goes to throw a newspaper from his bike and ends up falling off? If The Huffington Post were a print newspaper – that would probably happen a lot more often.
The Huffington Post posts 1,600 articles every day – which is equivalent to about 13 copies of The New York Times.
BuzzFeed as a Print Newspaper
If BuzzFeed were a print publication, it would add up to about 1.6 copies of The New York Times – and it would come out every single day.
The Mighty Internet
By foregoing traditional brick-and-mortar stores and taking music, movies, news, celebrity pillowcases, and cartoon-covered socks to the internet, these e-commerce websites have become true giants in the business world. Their product lines could fill whole cities – and all because of the limitless potential of online business.
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