(Image credit/pixabay/LoboStudioHamburg)Magento has announced the general release of Progressive Web Applications (PWA) studio. PWA is a set of best practices to make a web application function similar to a desktop or mobile application. The objective 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.

The Magento suite include tools for building online stores with app-like experiences. It is expected that such tools will help merchants solve the mobile conversion dilemma. The suite can also deliver highly personalised cross-channel experiences. In addition, new innovations across Adobe Experience Cloud help retailers excel in CXM across physical and digital storefronts.

PWA represent an advancement in the evolution of the mobile web. It is similar in magnitude to the transition that happened five years ago from conventional desktop sites to responsive web design. PWA blur the lines between mobile app and mobile site. It equips merchants and developers with a new front-end architecture. As a result, developers can leverage open web APIs to build “app-like’ experiences directly in the browser. These “apps” are fast, engaging, boost online conversions and enhance the pervasiveness of the in-store experience.

PWA solving retail challenges

When executed properly, native apps can provide an experience that is so frictionless that they provide a much better shopping experience than the desktop. The problem is that mobile apps are expensive to build and maintain and consumers only use apps from brands with which they regularly interact. According to Gartner, most brands cannot expect to convince even 10% of customers to download their app—meaning their mobile website handles the vast majority of customer interactions.

This is where PWA shine: They deliver fast and slick “app-like” experiences in the mobile web browser. Allowing retailers to tackle multiple challenges at once:

Faster Browsing

PWAs are much faster to interact with and provide smoother scrolling and transitioning of pages. The experience “progressively” changes thus removing the need for pages to “re-load”. Early adopters such as AliExpress have seen 100 percent jump in conversion rates since making the switch. Google also provide a testing tool (Lighthouse) so you can benchmark your PWA’s performance.

Instant “App” Gratification. PWAs are instantly discoverable and usable via the browser. This eliminates the need to “download” or “install” an app before use.

Push Notifications – an exciting proposition for online marketers is that PWAs support push notifications (on Android devices) in the browser. This enables marketers to send real-time, contextual and personalised communications with a simple “one-click” opt-in directly from the PWA site.

Rapid Re-Engagement

Just like a native app, a PWA can be “saved” to the home screen (on Android devices). This allows for rapid repeat access without the need to open the browser and type in a URL. Furthermore, PWAs operate in “full-screen” mode. Hiding the browser URL bar on the top and the browser navigation tools on the bottom of the screen for a native “app-like” look and feel.

While general awareness of PWAs is on the rise, their impact extends far beyond mobile. PWAs enable functionality such as push notifications and location to be built into the architecture of the website. This levels the playing field for brands to deliver personalised cross-channel experiences at a fraction the cost of a mobile app.

They also have the potential to open-up a whole new world for store associates. Shoppers expect sales associates to be knowledgeable about online products, which can be a logistical challenge. Looking forward, PWAs have the potential to replace legacy POS systems and retail associate platforms. Advocates suggest it can provide a fast, efficient and cost-effective way for store associates to locate product online and in-store. The studio provide self-checkout, service returns and save the sale and more directly from an employee’s smartphone.

Enterprise Times: What this means for retailers?

There’s no question that mobile is the most transformative force in retail today. A trend that was represented in the 2018 holiday shopping season. According to the Adobe Analytics Holiday report, mobile traffic soared with more than half (51.4 percent) of traffic originating from smartphones alone. Yet mobile accounted for just 31 percent of revenue. This is a stark reminder that many retailers have yet to crack the code on improving mobile conversion rates. They have also failed to reduce the complexity of building and optimising user experiences across channels.

Magento embracing PWA is definitely a step in the right direction. PWAs should enable retailers to deliver the fast experience of a native app to a much larger audience on the web. From boosted customer and in-store engagement and higher conversions to lowered development costs, PWAs offer opportunities for retailers.


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