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Why Progressive Web Apps are key to top notch mobile shopping experiences

Mobile commerce sales are expected to account for 54 per cent of total ecommerce sales by 2021 – good news for retailers as it means that as long as consumers have a mobile device, they can shop anywhere and at anytime.

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This move towards mobile means that retailers are looking for ways to more easily connect with consumers. And the solution to their problem? Progressive Web Apps or PWAs.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

PWAs are simply websites that look and function in much the same way as native apps, which means they are incredibly fast, can be added to the home screen of a smartphone, send push notifications and even work offline.

Since the introduction of PWAs in 2015, many companies have taken great advantage of this technology including brands like Twitter and Trivago that have reportedly doubled conversion rates and are growing revenues faster than ever as a result.

So, why should PWAs be a consideration for Aussie retailers? With mobile traffic surpassing desktop traffic, it is crucial for merchants to provide the best mobile shopping experiences to engage their audience.

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We know that consumers are visiting retailers on mobile more than ever before but conversion rates are not growing at the same speed. In fact, mobile traffic still accounts for only 16 per cent of total online shopping conversion. The value of PWAs is clear with Google reporting that when an ecommerce store switches to a PWA, it generally witnesses a 20 per cent revenue boost overall, with conversion rates on mobile doubling in some cases.

More mobile please! 

Historically, with mobile commerce we’ve seen native apps provide a much richer experience than the mobile web, creating high engagement with the end user. Although PWAs look and feel like native apps, their hidden potential is they’re reliable, incredibly fast and highly engaging.

We know that mobile commerce isn’t going anywhere with Telsyte stating in 2018 there were approximately 19.3 million smartphone users in Australia, with this figure rising year on year. We’ve touched on the benefits of mobile shopping for consumers, but what advantages can brands expect? The ability to connect with consumers from anywhere at anytime is exponential. Look around – everyone is on their phone. The opportunities are endless for creating touchpoints with consumers and it’s only increasing. In fact, Australia is the fourth largest users of mobile phones worldwide with the average Aussie checking their phone as many as 130 times a day,

With that said, it’s no surprise that Aussies are addicted to their smartphones, so when communicating and interacting with consumers, brands that are not investing in mobile commerce, will undoubtedly be left behind.

The business benefits of PWAs

Beyond the improvements to user experience that PWAs provide retailers, they can also have significant business benefits for brands. One of these benefits is that PWAs are web-based, meaning that they are discoverable by search engines. This means, any content within a PWA can be linked to, shared and ranked by Google.

By breaking down the barriers between web and native, consumers can be directly linked to the most sophisticated digital products, on any device, at any given time. PWAs can increase SEO, with Google ranking well-designed PWAs higher than regular websites.

While user experience is a key benefit of PWAs, it also plays a huge role in driving higher conversion rates. For consumers wanting to shop via their mobile, PWAs removes any friction and frustrations from the process, making it easier for customers to shop. Beauty brand Lancôme saw a 17 per cent increase in conversions, a 53 per cent increase in mobile sessions on iOS and an 8 per cent increase in conversion rates on recovered carts via push notifications.

PWAs make the mobile shopping experience faster, leaner, slicker and more efficient for consumers. From instant background loading onto shoppers’ home screens to full screen browsing, lightening fast page loads, and minimal usage of device space, PWAs have a lot to offer consumers, and in turn retailers. Shoppers are able to have much better experiences, meaning the likelihood of them becoming a repeat customer increases — whether or not triggered by a highly engaging push notification.

From traditional retailers looking to invest in an online offering to pure play online retailers, mobile commerce should be top of mind as businesses look to grow. With the majority of ecommerce websites not adopting this new technology yet, PWAs represent a rare and exciting opportunity to get ahead of the competition and provide high quality mobile shopping experiences to consumers.

Shannon Ingrey is vice president and general manager for APAC at BigCommerce.