Mobile eCommerce Vs Desktop eCommerce – The revenue contribution war is on for so many years and mobile commerce could soon outrun desktop revenue.

“Mobile commerce sales are predicted to make up 44.7% of total US eCommerce sales in 2019, up from 39.6% in 2018” – Statista.

According to eMarketer, mobile eCommerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total eCommerce sales by 2021.

These facts clearly suggest that overlooking mobile as a potential online sales channel will be a costly miss for eCommerce brands.

Though mobile commerce contributes to both traffic and conversions, mobile conversions still lag behind desktop conversions.

“In Q2 2018, traditional online shoppers converted at a rate of 3.91%, while those shopping via smartphone, converted at 1.61%, a rate less than half. – Statista.

There are a lot of factors that affect conversions on mobile devices. PWAs (Progressive Web Apps) can serve as one of the solutions to overcome poor mobile conversions.

Know how PWA can reinvent eCommerce mobile web experience.

What is PWA?

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) are advanced mobile websites that behave like a mobile app. Leveraging modern web browsers, web APIs and technologies, PWAs bring a native mobile app like experiences to the mobile web.

If you key in a website URL in a mobile browser and the link that opens behaves like a mobile app without asking you to download an app, it is actually an eCommerce PWA in action.

With that brief, you might be left with questions like “Does my eCommerce brand need a PWA? What are the benefits of PWA? Or is it any better than a native app? Well, the upcoming sections list the various questions you might have to ask yourself before you decide to build a PWA for your eCommerce store.

Question 1:

PWA vs Native apps vs responsive web design – Is PWA a winner here?

  • PWA vs responsive web design:

Mobile responsive websites lack an app-like experience while PWAs can close this gap by a significant margin. PWAs can work offline unlike mobile responsive websites.

  • PWA vs Native apps:

PWAs take lesser time to build and the cost involved is less than what’s needed to build a native app. PWAs are comparatively faster than mobile apps and rolling out updates can be done quickly.

Unlike native apps, PWA apps don’t force customers to download them from app stores. Just clicking on the ‘Add to home screen’ button in the mobile web browser would suffice.

Question 2:

Will PWA help gain more SEO advantage?

PWA, for eCommerce websites, prove advantageous in gaining search engine rankings. We’ll refresh a piece of history here before diving deep.

Google, in 2018, announced its mobile-first indexing. Almost half of the web pages, on a global scale, were indexed as per the mobile-first indexing approach. Now, Google has made mobile-first indexing a norm. This means mobile-first indexing won’t be a separate thing from Desktop indexing.

Google will be evaluating the mobile web pages of your eCommerce store to match relevance with a user’s search query. So, it becomes a mandate that your mobile performance should be fast to gain SEO advantage.

Google has been rendering support for PWA since 2015 and also announced page speed as one of the important ranking factors in mobile-first indexing. PWAs can make your website much lighter and improve loading speed multifold.

Question 3:

I don’t need a native app. Why build even a PWA now?

As we discussed in the beginning, mobile commerce is closing the gap in terms of revenue contribution and traffic with desktop users. If you don’t have an app already, your website visitors are left with only one option to access your website – that’s through your mobile-responsive website.

And most importantly, you are lagging in providing offline support for customers. Responsive web designs cannot perform offline while PWAs can fill this gap to a certain extent. Apart from faster loading, PWA provides offline experience and helps your mobile website perform fast even if the connectivity is poor.

Question 4:

How are PWAs developed? Is it a completely new build or uses some of the existing codes from the eCommerce store?

In case of frontend, PWAs don’t make use of the existing theme of an eCommerce store. The whole frontend is developed again from the scratch and JS coding plays a major role here. JavaScript is extensively used in front-end development to create smooth customer-facing mobile web interfaces.

For the backend development, PWA can make use of some of the certain key backend features that won’t be changed.

Question 5:

Are there SDKs or solutions available for PWA development?

You have several options to choose from. Most of the tools and solutions can help you build PWA apps irrespective of the eCommerce platform used. Ask your technology partner to choose the solution that best suits your business and eCommerce platform.

Solutions like Vue Storefront and Deity could be better options as these tools have some of the basics of PWAs built-in. For brands using Magento CE or Magento Commerce, Magento’s PWA Studio is an appropriate choice.

As Magento has built its own PWA toolkit, it is obvious that this solution will evolve in parallel with Magento and will support all the forthcoming versions. Magento’s PWA Studio has developers contributions involved which means more room for customizations.

Question 6:

How much does it cost to build a PWA for my eCommerce store?

Like any other web application, the cost to build a PWA app depends on the requirements. However, based on how many backend features can be reused in the PWA build and how complex it gets in implementing certain features, the cost will differ largely. Your technology partner would be able to provide a projection of cost and time needed for the PWA project.

Remember, with a single Progressive Web App, you’ll be able to cater to audiences regardless of the mobile devices they use. In the future, rolling out changes doesn’t have to be done separately for iOS and Android but in a single codebase and updates can be pushed instantly.

Benefits of PWA:

  • Customer engagement:

Reengage customers with PWA push notification and location tracking. These features help eCommerce brands in targeting right customers at the right time with personalized messages on abandoned cart, or flash sale, or a seasonal discount to increase conversions.

  • Security:

Rendered through HTTPS protocol, PWAs ensure security for both digital assets of your store and user data.

  • PWA offline support:

The pre-caching technique enables offline connectivity.

  • PWA Service Workers:

Service workers in PWA act as a caching technology, handle network requests, store content for offline use and also enable push notifications.

  • Continuous innovation:

Updates, new features, customizations or fixes can be pushed into the app easily as the app runs only on a single codebase.

Final thoughts

eCommerce brands like Alibaba and Amazon are already into the PWA league, setting the stage for mass adoption of PWA. Unlike Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning, PWA is a technology that can be adopted by even beginners.

The advantages of PWA like blistering performance, offline support, steady performance in low connectivity, location-based push notifications, SEO advantage and more, will soon be complemented with more features in the near future.

If you are thinking of improving your mobile experience, now is the time.

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