With the path of innovation that retail has treaded upon, the onus of merchants to boost digital commerce is immense. Along with the growing focus on mobile experiences, even the browsing pattern of users has changed remarkably. Along with the native apps and the web browsers, Progressive Web Applications or PWA have made a significant noise in the retail world, with even some e-commerce players releasing “light” versions of their apps, built as PWAs. 

In this blog, we shall talk about everything in and around PWA so that businesses can understand whether PWAs make sense for their business. 

What is PWA? 

A next-generation web technology that delivers an app-like shopping experience both through mobile and desktop devices, allowing merchants to increase user engagement, boost conversions, and diversify revenue streams.  

The Magento PWA is a set of tools that enables the development and maintenance of PWA on Magento 2. It offers a more viable API instead of the REST architecture, which is known as GraphQL. It’s a specific query language with higher flexibility and efficiency.  

Case Studies 

A fitting example of a PWA success story would be Twitter Lite. Twitter, a popular social media was failing miserably, primarily due to its huge app size, and users were just not convinced to download such a heavy app. Hence, Twitter thought of re-engaging its user. They implemented Twitter Lite. The user experience was like that of the native app. 

Key Insights 

  • 78% increase in tweets 
  • 65% increase in sessions per user 
  • 20% lower bounce rate 

Source: Twitter Lite Case Study1 

Some of the other well-known brands that have begun with the Magento PWA approach are Forbes and Pinterest. 

1 https://www.goneutrinos.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Whitepaper-Progressive-Web-Apps-vs-Native-Apps.pdf 

Benefits of PWA 

  

  1. Responsive and Dynamic Web Experience
    The dynamic user interface of Magento PWA is a useful asset for online businesses. Its responsive theme nurtures a healthy interaction with the visitors, contributing to higher conversion rates. Similarly, its immaculate web experience makes retaining visitors pretty simple.

  2. Cost-Effective Mobile Commerce
    Around 69.4%2 of internet users use their mobiles for online purchases and this trend has made mobile commerce or m-commerce highly sought-after. Hence, most eCommerce businesses are keen to have a mobile application, but the problem is that all of them can’t afford it due to its high cost.Magento PWA allows brands a cost-effective m-commerce set-up. The reason is that with Magento PWA, the extra cost of developing native apps is diminished, coupled with low development and maintenance costs.

    2 https://www.oberlo.in/blog/mobile-usage-statistics

  3. Improved User Experience
    Shopping on your mobile sans the internet is now a reality. A PWA-based website can work fluently even without the internet. It’s because in PWA once the service workers (a built-in mechanism that’s responsible for the progressive features of the PWA) have loaded the necessary files, offline viewing becomes possible.For PWA-based websites, users need not download it from the play store or worry about its update, also it’s easily accessible with its icon on the home screen.

    Point to NoteEvery PWA site needs initial caching of essential resources first before the offline viewing feature goes live.

  4. Content Personalization
    Magento PWA allows brands to continue interaction with users, making the trailing of digital footprints easier. Brands get a scope of personalization with the data they have and curate tailor-made content for users. The result is higher customer delight with an increased chance of conversion.

  5. Magento PWA is economical
    The problem with native apps is that they aren’t platform friendly, which means a separate app for iOs and Android. Coupled with this are the app store charges for uploading the app. PWAs, on the contrary, cost only a fraction of native apps, are platform agnostic, browser-friendly, and can be easily installed on devices.

  6. Re-engagement with Push Notifications
    The ability to send push notifications is a distinct feature of Progressive Web Applications. With Push Notifications, brands can kindle and retrieve user interest through mobile devices.

  7. Robust Safety and Security
    PWAs are safer than most website platforms. Despite being interactive like an app, it’s a website at heart and has an URL of its own. Therefore, you can have the most secure HTTPS, making PWA safe; a crucial concern for digital commerce.

  8. Helps with Search Engine Optimization and Outreach
    Must be wondering how do Magento PWA helps with SEO ranking? It’s simple. Search engines can index Magento PWA, like the traditional HTML pages. But the method of indexing the PWA pages is a little different from that of indexing the traditional web pages. Also, users find searching for products simple on PWA websites.

  9. Coupling of GraphQL with Magento PWA isn’t a challenge 
    Magento PWAs that are built using GraphQL are highly functional, comprise additional features, are scalable and flexible.

  10. Customized front-end themes
    Magento PWA enables you to design customized visual front-end themes that exactly match your requirement. 

The Role of PWAs in Mobile Commerce? 

Most mobile experiences have Responsive Web Design (RWD) via the mobile browser or by downloading and installing the native app. However, these technologies are aimed at offering a mobile-like experience on the desktop. But RWDs and native apps have experience limitations. For example, the web-based orientation of RWD cannot tap into the features of smartphones that improve customer experiences, such as the camera, microphone, and GPS-based location services. It has a heavy-weight code, which increases the mobile loading time and quickly drains data. 

Similarly, downloading native apps and logging in to them might be a big detractor. This is especially true when your customer base has medium to entry range smart phones.  

PWAs are a fresh alternative that transcends the limitations both of native apps and websites. It combines the fluid experience of RWD and has an app-like interface needed to revolutionize m-commerce.  

How PWA Changes the Digital Shopping Experience? 

  • Loading is in less than 3 seconds 
  • Dynamic and Responsive Design Element 
  • Choose product filter within a fraction of a second 
  • Seamless product listing 
  • Excellent Product image and content loading 
  • Checkout loading time in less than 3 seconds 
  • The average checkout time is in less than 2 seconds 
  • Impeccable performance 

The Fate of Digital Retail with PWA 

If you look at the image below3 you shall get an overview of how PWA will improve the digital commerce experience in the days to come. 

 

3 https://info2.magento.com/rs/585-GGD-959/images/1009-Early-Adopters-of-Progressive-Web-Apps.pdf 

In the retail world, PWAs seem promising specifically for small and mid-sized businesses. Without the effort of developing an app, brands can come up on the home screen of more users. It increases brand visibility and businesses come to a step closer to their customers. 

Besides, it’s often challenging for retailers to gather accurate information about customers; but PWA bridges the gap. Businesses can easily find out how customers interact with the website right from the moment users install the website. It helps in curating instant pop-ups and product notifications based on the type of pages the customer visited, the duration of the sessions, and their locations. To cut it short, retailers can refine leads easily and directly with PWAs compared to native apps and websites. The benefits are lower Cost of User Acquisition (CAC) and higher marketing ROI. Also, PWAs help to deliver enhanced customer experience and improve conversion rates for retailers since they are fast, reliable, and highly engaging. 

What are the limitations that come with PWAs? 

However, it does not mean PWAs do not have their limitations. For example, unlike native apps, these web applications have fewer features. Hence, sometimes, PWAs cannot deliver a stellar user experience, which is integral to the eCommerce world. Similarly, certain technical functionalities like Bluetooth and Near Field Communications (NFC) cannot be leveraged by PWA, limiting its usage. Also, it’s a challenge to develop revenue models or advertising opportunities for PWAs. Indeed, PWAs are more suitable for information-based apps such as corporate websites, admin dashboards, or reporting apps. In a nutshell, it is easier to consume information on PWAs, but for taking input, the progressive web applications may not fare that well. 

Key Takeaways 

It’s evident that PWA offers a plethora of opportunities to retail businesses. They are fast and uses only a single codebase across platforms for diversification. The crushing of business and low ROI owing to expensive app development is mitigated with PWAs. However PWAs do have their own limitations as well and it might do well to research all aspects of this particular method before investing in it. Retailers should take the final call based on their business requirement and what they expect out of the app, and decide on choosing PWA or otherwise.