According to most analyst and commentators, mobile has been the most disruptive trend since the onset of eCommerce. Over the past few years, shoppers have increasingly moved their traffic and purchasing from desktop and tablets to mobile devices.
Sixty-two per cent of internet traffic is on mobile, yet only 42% percent of conversion, according to the Q2 Salesforce Shopping Index. This gap is driven by a brands inability to bridge mobile and traditional web interfaces.
What are Progressive Web Apps?
The term Progressive Web App (PWA) was coined by software engineers, Alex Russell and Frances Berriman. According to Alex Russell, ‘Progressive Web Apps are just websites that took all the right vitamins.’
It isn’t a new framework or technology. It is a set of best practices to make a web application function similar to a desktop or mobile application. The dream is to have an experience so uniform and seamless that the user is unable to tell the difference between a PWA and a native mobile app.
PWAs deliver user experiences through progressive enhancement. It essentially means that a PWA will perform the same functions on a new iPhone 8 as it would on an older generation iPhone. Some features may not be available, but the app continues to work and perform like it should.
PWAs contain user experiences that are capable to be translated and used on desktops, tablets and other devices:
- They load instantly and never show the downasaur, even in uncertain network conditions.
- Respond quickly to user interactions with smooth animations and no janky scrolling.
- Feel like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience.
PWAs are installable and live on the user’s home screen, without the need for an app store. They offer an immersive full screen experience with help from a web app manifest file and can even re-engage users with web push notifications.
According to Igor Faletski is the CEO and Co-Founder of Mobify, the result is faster performance, more revenue, better SEO, and a superior customer experience.
Jason Goldberg, who leads the commerce and content practice team at Sapient Razorfish, said PWAs are one of the top retail trends projected for 2019, saying that “…every retailer should be developing a mobile web app iteration of their mobile presence right now.”
Similarly, Gartner Research Director Jason Wong has suggested, “It’s only a matter of time before PWAs become the new standard for web interactions, just as responsive design has become the norm rather than the exception.”
Complex retail user journeys
The retail customer journey is getting increasingly complex. It is multi-channelled across multiple devices. Activities such as free delivery, click and collect, product reviews and promotional codes have made customers far more smarter and selective.
Innovations in AI technology have further complicated the retail users customer journey. Highly intelligent social channels are delivering relevant and personalised content.
Customer expectations on mobile has also been shaped by fast and engaging native app experiences like Facebook, Uber, and Amazon. Mobile shoppers are constantly bombarded with interruptions – whether it’s a text, a news alert, catching a train, or one of a million other disruptions. If shoppers aren’t able to complete a purchase before they’re interrupted, you lose them – maybe forever.
Hence the lower conversation rate for mobile compared to desktops.
How to Implement PWAs
Originally proposed by Google in 2015, the company been busy in the PWA front, helping developers provide native-app qualities in web applications that are reliable, fast, and engaging. Google has shown the relative ease of development. Google has also provided courses aimed at developers showing how to convert web pages to PWAs.
According to Salesforce, it typically takes over a year to build a PWA from scratch. However, if you start with a digital experience platform that includes certified Salesforce Commerce Cloud connectors, you can launch a PWA in as little as 12 weeks.
Salesforce’s Storefront Reference Architecture (SFRA) makes it easier to launch an ecommerce site with templates and pre-configured third-party integrations. Salesforce worked with Astound Commerce to jointly develop SFRA-certified and OCAPI-compatible connectors for the Mobify Platform. Businesses can simply layer a PWA on top of their Commerce Cloud instance using these certified integrations.
Salesforce also combined the two platforms. As a result, the company expects retail customers to enjoy a first-class ecommerce platform. As well as a hyper-performant PWA experience that can boost mobile revenue by at least 20%.
The Microsoft Store contains “PWAs” packaged for Windows 10, but does not appear to contain links to actual on-line PWAs. It’s not clear that it can list web apps separate from Windows apps.
What does this mean
Traditionally, business owners, product owners and retail professionals has been faced with a dilemma. More engaging user experience of a native mobile app versus the much broader reach of the mobile web. The arrival of PWAs should now bridge that gap. PWAs should enable retailers to deliver the fast experience of a native app to a much larger audience on the web. The result promise faster performance, more revenue, better SEO, and a superior customer experience.
PWAs are expected to become the gold standard for mobile design. Today, responsive design is now the established approach to web design that makes web pages render well on a variety of devices or screen sizes.