Progressive Web Apps
PWA - Golden Egg
for E-Commerce?
PWAs seems to soon become a killer mobile tech for e-commerce with at least 20% sales loss every minute that PWA it is not part of a shop's architecture! Read on why.
Yet another golden egg?
Increase your conversion ratio by up to 150 percent! Start now and double your turnover! Your webshop can generate up to three times more visitors!
Every new startup and service, claiming they have a golden egg for you
We hear and read this kind of screams as marketers of web shops daily. Every new service and startup claims to have found the golden egg that will make your webshop a mega cash machine with ease. But how many of these promises really come true? At the end of 2015, another one was presented to us from the category 'Golden Eggs for e-commerce': the Progressive Web App. With much skepticism received and by many parties in the first instance also immediately wiped off the table, it now appears almost three years later that this application has lingered, is not a hype or a buzzword and is actually a Golden Egg for e-commerce.
What Progressive Web Apps actually are?
Basically, a Progressive Web App (PWA) is a simple web application that uses the latest features of the web and thus provides a so-called native app-like experience for the user. PWAs are solid, very fast and create a high level of engagement with the user. The PWA's technology will bring consistency between the web and native apps, will replace both and bring everything to the cloud. Because a whole new world of marketing opportunities opens up, it gives companies the opportunity to focus the arrows on a mass market.

When we follow the definition of Google, PWAs are:
  • Progressive: They work for every user, regardless of their choice for browser, because they are built with progressive improvement as a core value.

  • Responsive: They work on every device and every screen size. Regardless of whether this is a smartphone (iOS or Android), a tablet or desktop.

  • Connectivity independent: By using service workers, PWAs are not dependent on the network. When this is slow, hasty or even completely lost, a PWA will always be available without loss of quality.

  • App-like: The user experiences a native app experience with the PWA. This is because the so-called app shell model ensures that the functionality of the PWA is separate from the content. These are loaded independently of each other.

  • Fresh: The PWA is always up to date, thanks to the service worker update process.
  • Safe: Of course, PWAs are always protected via HTTPS.

  • Discoverable: Unlike a native app, a PWA is identifiable by search engines and can be fully crawled (SEO!).

  • Re-engageable: By means of native app features such as sending push notifications, PWAs ensure a high re-engagement with the user.

  • Installable: When a user is a fan of your shop, you can offer the option to install the PWA as a native app at the touch of a button. The user does not need to go through the app store, all updates go automatically and the shop owner does not have to offer it to (and be approved by) different app stores.

  • Linkable: A PWA can easily be shared via a normal URL structure, as is also available with the web.

PWA vs native vs web app: for mobile shops

PWA is, therefore, a 'native app via the web', in which the best of both worlds is brought together.
Web shops owners benefits
In addition to many advantages for the users, PWAs also have benefits for the owners and developers of webshops. Where the developer needs to develop and maintain three systems (website, iOS app, Android app) for a responsive website and native app combination, this is only one system at a PWA.

The marketer, content manager, designer, and product manager also only have to develop and maintain one application, the PWA, and get all the advantages and possibilities of both the web and native apps.
The advantage of Progressive Web App: only one application can be maintained
In addition, the developer only has to manage one standard programming language package at a PWA (HTML / CSS / Javascript). With a native app, at least three must be learned: Swift (Objective-C) for iOS, Java for Android and HTML / CSS / Javascript for the web. The whole thing runs on one server and is, in terms of size (MBs), a whole lot smaller than a normal website, so that less server capacity is needed.

Despite the reduced required server capacity, there is no danger for stability: with a PWA that is built in the right way and headless, the front end can not go offline when traffic flows. This is partly due to the aforementioned app shell model that ensures that the functionality of the PWA is separate from the content.
Progressive web app case studies
All those benefits at once sound very nice, but what does it actually bring - in addition to cost and time savings - for the shop owner?

The results are good in many cases. Conversion ratios that double, from sites that really had no annoying conversion rate to start with. Visitor numbers and especially engagement with visitors rise to even higher levels, and on average, much more time is spent on the PWA than before - despite the fact that these are much faster.
  • Twitter Lite saw a 65 percent increase in the number of pages per session, 75 percent increase in the number of Tweets and a 20 percent reduction in bounce rate.

  • Petlove increased the conversion rate by nearly 280 percent and saw the same increase in time spent on the website. By using simplified registration and automatic login upon return, there are twice more users who are already logged in to the checkout process.

  • Trivago saw an increase in the conversion rate of 97 percent and saw no less than 150 percent more users who add their PWA to the home screen (currently this is only possible for Android devices, and not yet for iOS users)
  • BookMyShow 's PWA takes just three seconds to fully charge, including all deep links and offline ready and has increased its conversion rate by more than 80 percent. In addition, the PWA is 54 times smaller than the Android App, and no less than 180 times smaller than the iOS app.

  • Flipkart 's PWA currently provides 50 percent more customer acquisition, in areas where it was previously impossible due to poor internet connections. The conversion rate increased by 300 percent and in addition, almost 60 percent of the visitors, who had previously removed the Flipkart native app, has added the PWA to their home screen. The main reason for this is the ease and saving of space.
Gartner Research has researched the future effect of Progressive Web Apps and knows how to predict that Progressive Web App will have replaced at least 50 percent of the general consumer apps by 2020.

Forrester estimates that "$ 1 Trillion by 2021 will be reinventing mobile experiences " using Progressive Web App technology.
Where do you start now if you want to build a PWA for your own shop
Google tells us about the possibilities, Forrester and Gartner predict what the future will bring and shops that have already built show results: but where do you start now, when are you going to do this?

Mobile is the only channel that grows consistently year-to-year in the retail industry. Traffic from shoppers is shifting from desktop to mobile and unfortunately, most shops are not yet able to effectively convert this traffic to conversions, potentially missing out on a significant amount of sales.
On average, at least a 20 percent sales boost is observed when a webshop switches to a mobile PWA
Every minute there is no PWA, this is a potential loss of 20 percent sales on the busiest and fastest growing channel. A simple calculation: when a webshop has a turnover of 20 million per year, it misses about 1.4 million by waiting a month to implement the PWA. When you wait half a year this is 6.8 million.
Every minute there is no PWA, this is a potential loss of 20 percent sales on the busiest and fastest growing channel. A simple calculation: when a webshop has a turnover of 20 million per year, it misses about 1.4 million by waiting a month to implement the PWA. When you wait half a year this is 6.8 million.

However, this does not take competition into account. When not switching to a Progressive Web App, not only potential customers will be lost, but the competitor's SEO score will also be higher due to the improved webshop.

Building Progressive Web App: things that matter
To make a Progressive Web App from your current website, there are a number of things to consider: what is the current system? What are the functionalities of the current shop, what are the wishes and of course: what is the budget?

To build a Progressive Web App from scratch, without any basis, there will have to be a lot of effort in the pouch. The architecture changes considerably (from monolithic to headless), new techniques have to be applied and in addition to many shop functionalities, things like Server Side Rendering, Single Page Application etc. will also have to be taken into account to optimize the experience and the right way to set up for search engine bots.
To build a PWA from scratch, a lot of work has to be done in a dark room
To help with this and to make the Progressive Web App benefits available to all webshops, there are now companies that have built launchpad software with which a shop owner can easily create a PWA, possibly in combination with the current system.
Future is positive
Whether now by implementing Progressive Web Apps every shop will suddenly double its turnover, remains a point of discussion, of course. Every webshop, in whatever form, needs attention, maintenance, specialists and a plan.

One thing is clear: all research and results clearly show that the term Progressive Web App is definitely no longer buzzword, and this really is the future of the internet. Where we saw the switch from separate mobile, tablet, and desktop websites to responsive a few years ago, we will now see this in native apps and desktop sites.

With the added bonus: lots of new marketing options, such as push notifications, location tracking, access to hardware and many other options previously only available for apps.

The sky is the limit.
Originally published in July of 2018 in the Dutch language at Marketingfacts. nl, this article is a good overall take on a case of PWA technology for e-commerce and mobile shopping. It is easy to understand and does not bore a reader with tech details. Still, it is more of baseline education about the PWA, rather than of specific e-commerce pros and cons.

We will share a special pros-cons article for the e-commerce use case of Mobsted m-PWA 2.0 app maker, right after we deeper analyze a current project — a mobile shop with 17 000 SKU entirely on Mobsted PWA making platform.

Alex Burlitsky
Chief Editor, CEO, Founder
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