Reaching today’s shopper is harder than ever. Gone are the days of broad-based, brand or retailer-led push communications that deliver scale. This isn’t new news, of course; shopper marketers in tune with their audiences know this to be fact, and have been altering how they communicate with their audience these last few years.
Yet with this sea change, there is a knowledge gap around what works and what doesn’t. The debate rages on for how to augment existing shopper marketing budgets from tried-and-true volume drivers to “test-and-learn” opportunities. The debate rages on because we all know that these tactics alone don’t deliver the way they used to, and that shoppers are more reliant on digital tools — retailer websites, digital coupons, mobile, etc. — than ever before. We know that the traditional Path to Purchase framework has become irrelevant, that each shopper’s path is wholly owned by shoppers themselves.
So as a shopper marketer, where should you be investing your digital dollars? To date, we’ve seen an industry boom with the TriAd’s and MyWebGrocer’s placing banner ads on retailer websites. We’ve seen emails, search, recipe programs, and custom microsites all become part of our standard conversation, and we’ve all invested in more digital coupons than we’d like to admit.
But are these the right places to be investing? Do we know a Walmart  shopper, for example, begins their trip planning on Walmart.com, or do we just know that we need to be spending digitally with Walmart to remain in good standing with this key partner?
Truth is, they aren’t going to retailer sites as much as we think. They aren’t even going to Google as much as we think. More than any other destination, they are going to Amazon.com .
With such aggressive annual growth, Amazon could be the Walmart of our era, and is certainly the hub of the e-commerce world. But did you know that, according to a Forrester Research study, 30% of all product searches online start on Amazon.com? Or that 90% of all visits to Amazon resolve to a product sale offline, according to an Etailing Solutions study.
Furthermore, according to a Compete.com traffic comparison, Amazon.com receives 120 million unique visitors each month (or 14 % of total Internet traffic), with Walmart a distant second at less than half that amount.
Read more: Collection of Best Practices Published 
Amazon.com has become a shopper’s central resource for all things shopping. It’s a planning tool, a price-comparison engine, a social endorsement tool, and a commerce engine all built into one. In its simplest terms, it is the most complete and effective digital shopper marketing tool on the market.
Brian Cohen is executive vice president and general manager at consulting firm Etailing Solutions, Westport, Conn. He will speak in a Shopper Marketing Expo  session Oct. 9 at 4 p.m., called “Is Amazon.com Your Most Important Shopper Marketing Account?”
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