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Progressive Web Apps: An Easier Way to Reach Mobile Shoppers

Today’s shoppers are online and they are using their mobile devices to do their shopping in ever-increasing numbers. Already, people consume twice as much content on their smartphones as they do on their desktop devices and analysts predict mobile use to grow by another 25% by 2025.

Native apps, living in the Apple or Google Play store, can be an effective way to sell your goods or services. However, there are now more than 5.7 million apps in the two app stores and another 1.3 million in the Windows and Amazon stores. Getting discovered by consumers is exceptionally difficult.

You can easily spend more than a hundred thousand dollars hiring eCommerce specialists to develop apps for each of the different platforms and then have to pour in marketing dollars to help consumers find them. That’s a high price before you even prove the concept is viable.

For some eCommerce companies, a native app makes sense. For small and medium-sized businesses, there’s an alternative that mirrors the native app experience at a fraction of the cost: the Progressive Web App (PWA).

PWAs are transforming eCommerce and providing an easier way to reach larger numbers of shoppers.


The Benefits of Progressive Web Apps

PWAs are exceptionally cost-effective to develop. You don’t have to spend the extra money to hire developers for multiple apps for different platforms, as PWAs work cross-platform on any device just like a browser does. The entire eCommerce development cycle is much quicker, which lets you bring products to market quickly and test new concepts without racking up big bills.

Other PWA benefits include:

  • Faster performance than websites: Local caches create fewer server requests, so load time and performance increase significantly.
  • Offline use: Even without an internet connection, PWAs can continue to work. Information is synced once the connection is restored.
  • Lightweight: The PWA is hosted on a web server, so it doesn’t take up as much storage space as a native app.
  • Secure: PWAs are highly secure. They require HTTPS for access.
  • Automatic updates: Unlike native apps, users never need to update them. Updates happen at the backend.
  • Reduced reliance on app stores: You don’t need to spend money to publish your PWAs in the Apple App Store or Google Play. This eliminates fees, restrictions, and commissions.

For eCommerce sites, PWAs create a fast, responsive, app-like experience and allow businesses to take advantage of headless commerce configurations. By decoupling the front end (the head) from the back-end, you can update or change content quickly without having to republish.


charts and graphs on laptop and browser


How PWAs Increase Reach with Mobile Shoppers

By the end of 2021, analysts expect mobile commerce to reach $3.56 trillion. PWAs create an easier way for small and medium-sized businesses to reach mobile customers.


Reach Larger Audiences

PWAs are designed to work on any platform and any internet-connected device. They are responsive to screen size and smartphone layouts, so they automatically adjust to provide optimal performance wherever they are viewed. Because they can be shared instantly with a link and they take up little space on devices, adoption rates are high.


Better Discovery

Unlike native apps, PWAs are discoverable by search engines. This can provide a significant advantage in reaching eCommerce consumers.  SEO optimization techniques can enhance your search rankings without having to spend as much time and money on other marketing efforts.

When users first engage with a PWA online, the browser and device will typically ask users whether they want to install the app on their screen without having to visit an App Store.


Easier Installs

Native apps can experience significant bloat. The average iOS app file is 34.3 MB. In the Android store, the average size is 11.5 MB. The average eCommerce app across both platforms averages more than 23 MB. So, even after a consumer launches the app store, searches, and decides to install a native app, they then have to wait while it downloads. That’s asking a lot for busy consumers who typically only stay on a website for less than 15 seconds.

The average PWA can take up less than half the space and doesn’t require searching and lengthy installation. When you visit a PWA site, users don’t have to download anything. They spend that time shopping instead of waiting.

If they do choose to install the PWA on their home screen, it happens quickly. Once installed on the home screen, users never need to update it, since updates happen on the backend on your servers rather than the app itself. That ensures shoppers will always see the latest updates and the content you want them to see without having to update first.


A Better User Experience

Nearly 90% of online shoppers say they wouldn’t return to a website after having a bad user experience. Because of their fast load speed and responsiveness, PWAs provide a superior customer experience and can produce higher conversion rates. When the world’s largest online B2B commerce platform, Alibaba, introduced Progressive Web Apps, it saw a dramatic increase in monthly active users and an incredible 76% increase in conversions.

PWAs create a shopping experience similar to native apps. Customers can store account information, log in across different devices, add items to shopping carts and check out seamlessly. PWAs also support native app-like functions, such as swiping and micro-interactions. More sophisticated strategies like geolocation, code scanners, and other high-tech features can also be added. This produces the same look and feel shoppers are used to with native apps.


Push Notifications

Another significant benefit of PWAs is the ability to push notifications directly to consumers. While the average email click-through rate can be as low as 3%, push notifications have an engagement rates seven times higher than email (21%). Since push notifications are immediately viewable on the home screen — even if the app isn’t active — they get higher visibility.

PWAs also don’t require users to give you their email address to get push notifications. This lets you still reach shoppers who don’t want your messages cluttering up their email.


mobile shopper putting clothing in online shopping cart


Maximize Mobile Conversions with Progress Web Apps

PWAs combine the best of the web and native apps to provide a strong customer experience with more flexibility, lower development and maintenance costs, and a faster time-to-market. If your eCommerce platform uses Magento, WordPress, or something else, creating your own Progressive Web App (PWA) opens up your shopping platform for users on every device, regardless of the operating system they use with all the features you’d expect from a native app.

PHP Studios creates intelligent eCommerce solutions and campaigns for small and medium-sized businesses. If you need to develop a PWA for any backend framework or want to migrate your existing native applications to a React-based PWA, PHP Studios can help.  If you’re looking to hire a Magento expert or Magento consultant, or looking to hire eCommerce specialists to create a better user experience, we’re here to help.

Create an app-like experience to fuel engagement and improve conversions. Contact PHP Studios today

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