Chintan Parikh
By Chintan Parikh |
IN Build |

Progressive Web Apps (PWA) for Your eCommerce Store

Person interacting with their smartphoneMobile and responsive websites excel at reaching users across different devices, and Google pushes them heavily by penalizing non-responsive sites in terms of search engine rankings.

However, responsive websites solve only one part of the puzzle. They reach users, but they aren’t equally successful in retaining them. They don’t tend to convert and re-engage users or turn them into frequent visitors.

According to a key takeaway from comScore’s The Global Mobile Report, mobile app usage is highly concentrated within just a few leading apps:

Consumers spend more than 95% of their app time on their 10 most regularly used apps, often drawn from a relatively short list of top overall apps that contribute to the majority of app time spent and are most likely to be found on users’ home screens.

This is where progressive web apps — or PWAs — enter the picture. They help app developers offer immersive experiences and reduce the need to invest heavily in developing native mobile apps.

What Are Progressive Web Apps?

According to Google, PWAs are experiences that can reach anywhere a website can be loaded. The three key qualities of PWAs are reliability, speed, and engagement.

  1. Reliability: They load instantly and never show the dreaded Chrome “downasaur,” even in uncertain network conditions.
  2. Speed: They respond quickly to user interactions with silky-smooth animations (and no janky scrolling).
  3. Engagement: A PWA feels like a natural app on the device, with an immersive user experience.

These apps provide user experiences like those of native mobile apps, but are built using web technologies and Javascript without the complications of developing native mobile apps for different platforms. PWAs combine the best features that web technologies and native apps have to offer.

A good PWA has the following characteristics:

  • Secure: The PWA should always be served over HTTPS.
  • Responsive: The UX design should ensure a seamless experience across devices of all dimensions and resolutions.
  • Availability: Application should be enhanced with service works so that the PWA works offline as well as on low-quality networks (3G).
  • Native App-Like: PWAs must have a way for users to add them to mobile app home screens. The app should have clean transitions between pages and shouldn’t feel choppy with long page load times.
  • Speed: PWAs should load on slow 3G networks in less than 10 seconds.
  • Browser Independence: The site should work regardless of browser choice.
  • Linkability: Each page should have a unique URL, making it easy to share.
  • Engagement: Push notifications allow users to easily re-engage with the application.

Benefits of Using Progressive Web Apps for eCommerce

Engagement: Web push notifications provide an engaging experience to shoppers, who can receive important order status information in real time. Notifications such as order processed, order shipped, and order delivered can all be pushed directly to shoppers’ devices.

Reliability: PWA architecture allows for the store to load instantly, regardless of network speed or website availability. The “downasuar” will never appear, and areas with bad network coverage (e.g. underground subway trains) won’t degrade shoppers’ experiences.

Mobile Store: Provide your shoppers with a truly mobile shopping experience. Here are some eCommerce mobile stats:

  • 125 million U.S. consumers own smartphones
  • 50 million U.S. consumers own tablets
  • 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last six months
  • One third of all eCommerce purchases during the 2015 holiday season were made on smartphones
  • eCommerce dollars now comprise 10% of ALL retail revenue
  • 80% of shoppers have used a mobile phone inside of a physical store to look up product reviews, compare prices, and/or find alternative store locations
  • An estimated 10 billion mobile connected devices are currently in use across the globe

Conversions: All of the above culminates into a higher conversion rate for your store.

PWA eCommerce Success Stories

West Elm’s progressive web app saw a 15% increase in average time spent on site and a 9% lift in revenue per visit. Learn more on YouTube.

Petlove’s PWA resulted in a 2.8x increase in conversion and a 2.8x increase in time spent on site. Using simplified signup and auto sign-in, 2x more users went to checkout already signed in. Learn more on YouTube.

BookMyShow witnessed over 80% increase in conversion and a dramatic increase in revenue after launching its PWA. Read the report.

What’s in It for Me?

Native mobile application development and usage has been growing at fast rate, but despite this popularity, good mobile developers can be difficult to find. And to support mobile apps, you also need expertise across different platforms — which further increases the cost to market for eCommerce mobile shopping experiences. For online store owners, PWAs provide a number of advantages:

  • Unified Code: This means easier, faster, and more cost-effective development and delivery to market.
  • Security: Your application will be safe, and all communications will occur via a secure HTTPS layer.
  • Push Notifications: Keep your customers engaged with push notifications regardless of device.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Deliver a clean eCommerce storefront with costs that are typically 10x lower than the costs to develop native mobile apps.

Free Audit

If you already have an eCommerce storefront, we can provide a free audit to see how we can make improvements and increase your conversion rates. We’ll measure everything from content strategy and product organization to usability, speed, and customer experience and make recommendations.

Please share your contact information for a free audit, and we’ll be in touch right away!



Progressive Web Apps infographic.



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