PWA is a Good Solution for Demanding eCommerce Customers: Many of the sites beloved today are or have a version of a Progressive web app (PWA). They include Starbucks, AliExpress, Twitter, Flipkart, Uber, Tinder, and Wordle. PWAs are used because they are lightweight, multi-platform, fast, and responsive alternatives to a native app. In 2007, PWAs almost became the apps you know of today. Steve Jobs thought of them as the way users would experience apps, but instead, the native apps we are used to today took off.
But that was then. Web browsers run PWAs, and their capabilities have improved in leaps and bounds along with other technologies. More companies see the value in taking up PWAs and are benefiting from the technology. At this point, you may be now wondering exactly what is PWA and how useful is it in eCommerce?
What is a Progressive Web App (PWA)
Benefits of PWA in E-commerce
1. Light and Fast
The main Starbucks iOS app is about 146 MB, while the PWA version hovers around 600kb. That’s a remarkable downsizing that makes for a quick and low friction installation which is great for customer acquisition. PWAs are always smaller than their native counterparts and load much faster than a responsive or mobile site. A PWA will load at a speed of 2.75 seconds on average – a figure eight times faster than your average mobile landing page.
As a result of the launch of their PWA, Starbucks saw the volume of people who placed orders through their website double daily. The PWA enabled them to achieve the same volume of orders online as they had on the native app. It was clear that users loved the small size and easy install process.
2. Offline Access
PWAs work through service workers. These are scripts that are separate from the webpage and run in the background. They allow the PWA to also manage offline requests by prefetching and caching specific resources so the app can work in no network or poor network conditions. This is a more significant issue in developing countries where the network infrastructure may be lacking.
3. The Feel of a Native App
Native app UIs are preferred to those of a website. They are more user-friendly and can operate offline. PWAs are an excellent middle ground between the two. They retain the functionality of a native app which benefits the user while still being fast.
4. All Browsers Support PWAs
All major browsers, that is. These include Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge. Android does however lead as the best platform to support PWAs.
5. Always on the Latest and Greatest
A native app requires a user to update it or turn on automatic updates. On the other hand, a PWA will always be up to date whenever there is an internet connection. This means improved security for the user without having to think of it.
6. Low Cost of Development
It is cheaper to develop a PWA than a native app. This is true, especially if you need to support multiple platforms, such as Android and iOS. With PWAs, you only need to build one app, and it will run on every platform with a browser. Another cost-benefit is that a PWA is downloaded directly from the browser, thus cutting out the App Store and Google Play Store’s charges.
7. Access to Hardware Features
Unlike websites, PWAs can access different mobile features such as push notifications. This creates new marketing and sales channels for developers without the cost and complexity of a native app. They can also take advantage of hardware features such as geolocation and cameras.
The Uber PWA enabled users to call rides even when on a 2G connection by loading in just 3 seconds. AliExpress used a PWA and saw its conversion rates rise by 104%, according to Google’s data. Overall, Google’s research affirms that the average bounce rate from a PWA is 42.86% less than that of mobile websites. Overall engagement is 137% higher, with some brands seeing improvements that go as high as 400%.
In turn, brands have seen their conversion rate increase meaning that customers derive value from PWAs. Google developers report that the average conversion increase from the adoption of progressive web apps is 52%. PWAs have definitely impacted the e-commerce space as customers have come to expect faster, more user-friendly experiences.