Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for eCommerce: All that the merchants need to know!

Imagine visitors on your eCommerce store interacting with the website as if it were an app, i.e. they can install it, use when offline and also receive notifications. PWA or Progressive Web Apps are just that. In simple terms a PWA is a website built yet, capable of functioning as a native app. A PWA allows for push notifications, is installable on the home screen, functions offline, works across all devices, doesn’t require any updates, provides full screen view and much more.  PWAs also tend to be easier and less complicated to build than native apps and works identically on both Android and iOS smartphones. 

This new technology is already disrupting the eCommerce industry by offering ample benefits for both the customers and the merchants. Peter Sheldon, Senior Director of Strategy, Magento wrote in one of Magento’s blog posts that PWAs are “a seismic advancement in the evolution of the mobile web, similar in magnitude to the transition that happened five years ago from conventional desktop sites to responsive web design.

As a merchant if you have questions on whether PWA is for you or not, read on to get an answer to your queries. 

Q: How is a PWA better than a native app and a responsive website? 

A: A PWA functions in almost the same way as a native web app, however it is not a true copy of a native app. A PWA is quick to deploy , without any need to go through the lengthy process of approval and most importantly there is no need for the customer to go to the App Store or Google Play to download the app. A PWA can simply be added to the home screen from the browser. From the merchant’s perspective, a PWA can be built at a lower cost than a standalone native app. 

PWAs also holds the advantage of working while in offline mode, providing a full screen experience to the user and ability to use push notifications, which are not offered by a responsive website. Here’s a quick view of comparison between PWA, native apps and responsive websites:

Features PWA Responsive Website Native App
Works on all devices
Web Indexing
Downloading not needed
All Content needs to enter from one place
Works when offline
Provides full screen experience
Push notifications
Installable on home screen

Q: PWAs are more useful for mobile users. What if most of my customers are desktop users?
A: The initial use cases emphasize on the advantages of PWAs for mobile users. However, PWAs bring performance improvement in desktop interfaces too. This means that the website visitors will take advantage of the performance improvements that PWA brings irrespective of the device being used by them. Also, we are closer to desktop PWAs and creating full PWA websites.

Q: I haven’t had a native app before, is PWA still relevant for me? 

A: There is no doubt that the worldwide eCommerce growth is being fuelled by customers using mobile devices. According to an estimate from eMarketer, retail eCommerce sales were $2.3 trillion in 2017, the mobile share of which was 59% approximately. According to forecasts, 2021 could see mobile commerce rake up to $3.5 trillion i.e. about three quarters of the total eCommerce sales. Even if you do not feel that the website users are accessing the site via mobile, there is enough evidence to prove that a large number of visitors do access the site via their smartphones. Your analytics data will confirm the same. 

With offline access, improved loading time and more native-app like features, PWAs bring better mobile experience and ensure better conversions for your eCommerce business. Thus the importance of opting for PWA cannot be ignored.

Q: Which one to opt for – Magento PWA Studio or DEITY or Vue Storefront or ScandiPWA?

A: Being a merchant, it is good to know what options are available to get you started on PWAs. Deity, Magento PWA Studio, Vue Storefront and ScandiPWA are a few options out of the lot. While all are in the process of continuous improvement, it is difficult to say which one is better than the other. Important point to note is that they are all pushing the PWA technology forward. It is good to associate with a partner, who knows PWA and can help you through the decision and implementation.

Q: How much will PWA cost me? 

A: As the cost of each eCommerce development project varies depending upon the project requirements, timelines, overall design requirements, etc. the PWA project costs also varies depending upon the requirements, features needed, complexity level, etc. That being said, the investment in PWA gets you native-like standalone app compatible to all Android and iOS devices. 

It is recommended to get in touch with a suitable partner who is well versed with the development and implementation process of PWAs. 

Q: I am prepared for PWA. What should I do to get started?

A: You are already at the right place. Web’s The Word is one of the leading eCommerce agencies in Brighton, having expertise in PWAs. Our team of specialists in this area can work wonders for your business. Get in touch today, so we can gather the basic information about your project and suggest what best can be done and how. 

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