With Internet on their fingertips, online shoppers have an attention span as that of a goldfish. Thanks to the many devices that they use, their attention is even fragmented. In fact, it has led to a collective behavior referred to as ‘Cross-Device Digital Shopping’.
In growing eCommerce markets, 51% of online shoppers use two or more devices for shopping.
It is this behavior that’s compelling eCommerce brands to take up cross-device behavior, or in other words, the mobile experience seriously. Here is where the PWA concept (Progressive Web App) comes to help.
What is PWA?
The foremost technology that was in place to bridge the cross-device compatibility challenge was AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) which focuses mainly on quick loading of textual contents. Now the shift has happened to PWA as online shopping needs interactive visual elements beyond the text.
Progressive Web Apps are basically a highly advanced mobile website that provides a mobile-app like experience. Taking advantage of the advancements in modern web browsers, web APIs and technologies, PWAs strive to bring the best of native mobile experiences to the mobile web. For instance, if you happen to open a brand’s Progressive Web App, it seems like as if you have opened the native mobile app of the brand but it is actually PWA in action.
PWAs are in some ways better than native and hybrid mobile apps as they hold advantages like lesser development time, lesser development cost, no app store approval process and more.
Here are some of the big names who have already started benefiting through PWAs:
Forbes – Forbes’ PWA test saw 2x increase in average user session length, 6x completion rate, and 20% more impressions.
Tinder – With PWA, Tinder’s load times decreased from 11.91 seconds to 4.69 seconds.
Uber – Uber’s PWA was designed to be fast even on 2G taking less than 3 seconds to load.
PWA – Pros
1. PWAs eliminate the need for installation. They provide app-like experience in a browser. Just a click on the URL provides instant access. And, PWAs can be bookmarked for frequent return visits.
2. Hyper-compatible – PWAs are cross-device and cross-browser compatible. They easily overcome the challenge of aligning UX across different devices for a consistent experience.
3.Location-based tracking and notifications – If you leave a product in an online cart and happen to cross the retail outlet of the same brand, PWAs can help the store in pushing a notification to your mobile app saying that the product you have left online is available for sale in the store nearby. Brands can target the right prospective buyer and increase conversion by taking advantage of the user’s buying intent.
4.Quick Share – Users can easily share PWAs as it’s just a URL. And also, every page has a shareable link which means any particular web page can be shared.
5. Security – PWAs are rendered through HTTPS protocol that ensures top-notch security for users and content.
6.SERPs – Google indexes PWAs as regular web pages which eventually adds to better indexing, ranking, and online discoverability.
7.Online and offline connect – Pre-caching technique enables offline connectivity and light design contributes to the faster experience.
8.Loads in a jiffy – The Service Worker technology helps PWAs load in a flash irrespective of the network connectivity strength.
9.Analytics Advantage – As PWAs are considered as web traffic, it will be easier for brands to track users with their traditional analytics tools without having to look out for advanced tools that provide a comprehensive user-centric view of their cross-device shopping journey
10.Instant Updates – For developers, rolling out updates into PWAs will be easy. No mobile-platform-specific versioning or updates needed.
Having listed the pros, here is something we need you to be very clear about. It is up to you to decide the features you are going offer in your PWA. Remember, it is not mandatory to have all PWA capabilities in your app.
You are free to handpick only those you feel that can add value to your targeted user’s mobile web experience. It is also good to know the shortcomings of PWAs.
PWA – Cons
1.Support issues for PWAs exist in Android. In case of iOS, notification on the home screen is not supported.
2.Though the Service Worker technology is a cool feature that helps in caching all assets of web pages, it gets activated only after the first load.
3.Access to native features of the mobile phones like calendar, camera, calls, sensors and so on are not supported.
4.Cross app login is not supported.
PWA – The way forward for retailers.
PWAs are appearing to be more viable and economical option for retailers and so we can expect to see the adoption pick up. Having said this, soon, we’ll be able to witness every eCommerce platform coming up with its own toolkits for developers to build PWAs.
Magento is into PWA. Keeping up the promise made in April 2017, Magento announced its own PWA Studio at the recently concluded Magento Imagine 2018, a suite of tools for building online stores with app-like experiences.
Magento’s PWA Studio – What to expect?
-Developer tools for quick prototyping and debugging
-Module-based architecture that improves opportunities for Magento extension sellers
-Single deployment for both building and managing web and mobile-web channels
-Content personalization and local preference tools
-Specially built CMS theme for engaging user experience
To summarize, mobile-web experience matters and PWAs can help you score well. PWAs are fine alternatives for eCommerce brands that are starting to build their mobile-experience instead of going for heavy duty native mobile apps right away.
As PWAs promise less time-to-market, less development time and cost, brands can consider them as a faster option to cater to the mobile audience.
However, PWAs are still not a replacement for native apps as the latter still is unbeatable in providing immersive experiences. PWAs can serve as a faster mobile-web experience provider while native apps can focus on delivering a feature-rich experience.