How the digital marketing landscape has changed our lives in the 21st century

A case study for our changing shopping behaviours

Amazon has changed the way we shop.
Amazon package Amazon has changed the way we shop.
Image: 123RF/Adrian Hancu

In the course of only 25 years — a single generation — Amazon has grown from a start-up online bookseller to one of the most powerful corporations in modern history.

Consumers trust Amazon with everything from their personal information and buying habits to the conversations they have in their own homes through the purchase of smart home appliances and technologies. One possible explanation for this trust is that the company has a strong relationship with its customers, thanks to both its commitment to low prices and an apparent never-ending quest to make modern life more convenient in every possible way.

Amazon started with print books, moved on to digital versions and e-readers, and continues to crash through technologies and the media industry at an astonishing pace. All the while, they maintained an aggressive push into even faster shipping and all-new retail formats. Prime Now, the same-day-shipping initiative that includes groceries, fresh produce and refrigerated and freezer products, makes Amazon competitive in still more types of retail industries.

Digital advertising spend worldwide finally surpassed TV in 2017. Paid online search, through Google Adwords, is one way that companies or advertisers can get their message across. And in an online, connected world, many customers are reached through their mobile devices, which they carry wherever they go.

Mobile commerce has not yet overtaken desktop but a typical customer journey now has more touch points than ever before, which means that mobile devices factor into purchases most of the time, even if the actual transaction happens somewhere else.

In addition to all its other achievements, Amazon has become as much a search engine as it is an ecommerce platform. Research has shown that it has been the starting point for more product searches than Google for the past few years. Amazon has already changed how we shop and, by extension, how we live our lives. What will be next?

For more insight into the fascinating digital marketing landscape of the 21st century, join the Wits Plus Digital Marketing short course and learn how to select suitable digital marketing channels for specific needs.

About Wits Plus

Wits Plus, the Centre for Part-Time Studies at the University of Witwatersrand, offers selected undergraduate degrees, as well as a wide range of short courses. Evening classes make all qualifications accessible to working people. Wits Plus also offers a growing range of online short courses that enable you to study when it suits you.

Visit Wits Plus, Centre for Part Time Studies and Wits DigitalCampus, call +27 11 717 9510 or email for more information.

This article was paid for by Wits Plus.

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