Leadership

Progressive Web Apps - Are They a Game Changer?

March 20, 2019
Amazon, Google, and YouTube have proven to be game changers. Buying books, product searches, and entertainment have never been the same since these companies took off. 
 
Today, there’s a new digital disruptor on the block, which Magento, an Adobe company, is touting as a “seismic advance.” It’s called the Progressive Web Apps (PWA), a solution that allows online merchants to deliver an “app-like experience” through their mobile-friendly websites. 
 
Bridging the gap between the app-experience and the browser-experience is critical for many reasons. Most importantly, it facilitates the frictionless e-commerce experience that today’s customers demand. But what exactly is a PWA? How do they work? And what can they enable your business to do? Here’s what you need to know.
 

Why PWAs Could Be a Game Changer For Your Business

 
PWAs are designed to solve the multiple challenges that many e-commerce retailers face. Well-executed native apps can deliver a superior digital shopping experience, but they are expensive to build and many customers will only use apps from brands that they regularly interact with. According to Gartner, for example, the barriers to app adoption are formidable and unfamiliar brands can only convince customers to download their apps about 10% of the time. 
 
But this is where PWAs really shine. They produce a fast and slick “app-like” experiences within the mobile web browser.  This allows retailers to deliver the features customers expect:
 
  • Faster Browsing – PWAs are much faster to interact with. They provide smoother scrolling and transitioning of pages as the experience “progressively” changes. This removes the need for pages to “re-load.” Early adopters, such as AliExpress, have seen a 100% jump in conversion rates since making the switch. Now, Google even provides a testing tool (Lighthouse) so you can benchmark your PWA's performance.
     
  • Instant "App" Gratification – PWAs are instantly discoverable and usable via the browser. As a result, consumers no longer have to“download” or “install” an app before use.
     
  • Push Notifications – An exciting proposition for online marketers is that PWAs support push notifications (on Android devices) in the browser. This extends the opportunity for marketers to send real-time, contextual, and personalized communications with a simple “one-click” opt-in directly from the PWA site.
     
  • Rapid Re-Engagement – Just like a native app, a PWA can be “saved” to the home screen (on Android devices), which allows for rapid repeat access (without the need to open the browser and type in a URL). Additionally, PWAs operate in “full-screen” mode, (hiding the browser URL bar on the top and the browser navigation tools on the bottom) for a native “app-like” look and feel. 
     

Takeaway

Magento Commerce, an Adobe company,  is adding PWA Studio to its flagship Magento Commerce 2.3 e-commerce platform because it believes this technology will narrow the dichotomy between highly responsive mobile sites and an expensive e-commerce app. If their best-of-both-worlds approach proves correct, then PWAs could end up replacing the current technologies, which would eliminate the need for brands to spend a fortune on costly e-commerce apps and mobile sites. 
 
In the meantime, with PWA Studio, merchants can deliver an app-like mobile e-commerce, which means experiences that are fast, integrated, and reliable. These are precisely the features that can improve SEO, boost conversion rates by 50% or more, and increase page performance by better than 50% too. No wonder, so many e-commerce observers think PWAs could very well be the next big technology shift in digital commerce. Brands, manufacturers, distributors and retailers should keep a watchful eye on PWAs and learn more about Magento Commerce 2.3.