Most folks that I talk to about CamelCamelCamel that aren’t already Camel users don’t really understand why having a historical record of prices on Amazon would be useful. That probably shouldn’t be too surprising. Until you start using Camel regularly, you probably believe (like I did) that prices on Amazon are relatively static. That is, the price of that ice cream maker you’re eyeing is probably about the same day to day. But take a look at this chart.
Pricing is actually very dynamic for ice cream makers. This one has been as expensive as $80 and as cheap as $50 depending on when you might have looked. And its price is changing nearly every single day! Sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot, but almost always it is changing. This is the lesson that Camel quickly teaches you when you become a user.
And it’s not just the ice cream makers! I was reminiscing on 2011 the other day and decided to create a chart showing how often the top 10,000 Amazon products on Camel (by user created price watches) changed price. On a weekly basis, price changes were registered for almost 40% of the products at the beginning of the year and up to 54% at the peak of the Black Friday madness in November. So more than half of the most popular products on Camel changed their price during one week in November!
This upward trend in price changes peaking around the holiday season is common when we look at prior years as well, but in late 2011 Camel also received significant upgrades that allowed us (and continues to allow us) to check prices more often. So while prices were changing more often on Amazon around the holiday, we probably also started catching more intraday price changes that might have gone unnoticed earlier in the year.
If you look at how prices behave over the course of a month it is even more pronounced. At the monthly level you can see that most prices will change. In November of 2011, 78% of products in the top 10,000 registered price changes.
So now you know. Prices always change. The best way to make sure you’re getting a deal is to know what the current price looks like in the context of all prior prices. That’s what the camel is for.