Ecommerce 7 min read

What Are Progressive Web Apps and How Can They Help Your Ecommerce Store?

Written on 24 Feb 2023
Overview

PWAs or Progressive Web Apps, combine rich features of both web and mobile applications (like offline access, push notifications, etc.) without having to install any app on a mobile device. Be it a fast and engaging user experience, or affordable development costs, PWAs are the way to go when it comes to staying ahead of the competition.

progressive web apps for eCommerce
Tired of shoppers refusing to download your app and then bouncing from your under-optimized mobile website? You need a Progressive Web App (PWA). Progressive Web Apps are web applications which can improve your mobile optimization, user experience, and sales. In this article, we will teach you why a Progressive Web App is a good choice for your eCommerce business:

What Are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are cross-platform web apps that are optimized for both desktop and mobile. By using cached data and progressive APIs, PWAs behave like a native mobile app (i.e. can be accessed from the home screen and offline), while being run on the web, bringing the best of native mobile apps and web apps.

Why Should You Use Progressive Web Apps?

There are many reasons why you should embrace Progressive Web Apps and consider them as an alternative to native mobile apps or standard mobile-optimized web pages. Here are some of the most pressing reasons you should adopt Progressive Web Apps:

Easier and Cheaper To Design

It’s easier (and therefore faster and cheaper) to create a Progressive Web App than a native mobile app. All it takes to turn your website into a PWA is adding Web App manifests and service workers to your site. You can also run a Progressive Web App on the desktop, which saves you from having to design and update two versions of your website.

Native App Features

Progressive Web Apps have several features of native mobile apps but offer better UX. Like native apps, Progressive Web Apps can be added to your homescreen, accessed offline or with bad internet connections, and have interfaces designed for mobile.
However, PWAs are more convenient than native apps as customers don’t have to go through all the hassle of downloading them from the app store. Downloading a Progressive Web App is as simple as clicking “yes” to a push notification to add the PWA to the homescreen. Secondly, Progressive Web Apps take up less space on customers’ phones (a significant cause of users removing mobile apps) and, when they do use the internet, use lesser data than a native mobile app.

Faster

Progressive Web Apps are designed to be super fast. This is particularly important for mobile eCommerce as many mobile websites take 15 seconds to load, despite almost all users bouncing by 10 seconds (and many bouncing by 3). PWAs, on the other hand, can be made to load in as little as 1 second, which positively impacts your bounce rate and therefore conversions.

Push Notifications

With Progressive Web Apps, you can easily set up opt-in push notifications. Push notifications can be a useful alternative to email for customer messaging and marketing, though they must be used with caution.

Increased Engagement and Conversions

The speed, ease of installation, and native mobile interface of Progressive Web Apps increase customer engagement and satisfaction, which leads to higher conversion rates. This increase in engagement and conversions can be extremely significant, for example, AliExpress experienced a 104% rate of conversion when they introduced their PWA.

Good for SEO

PWAs are also great for your Search Engine Optimization because, unlike native apps, they are indexable by Google, which means they can appear in the search results. The extra mobile UX in terms of speed and usability also improves PWAs search engine rankings (especially now that Google has a mobile-first ranking). Moreover, using a Progressive Web App combines your desktop and mobile sites into one site, which also increases your SEO.

But What About Electron?

Progressive Web Apps still have their downsides, for example, they quickly drain phones’ batteries and lack some features of a native mobile app (such as geofencing and advanced camera access). And, across devices, their functionality and customization are not as good as some other web apps.
One alternative to Progressive Web Apps is Electron, a cross-platform app used to make web apps that have the features of a desktop app (without the drawbacks of a desktop app).
Electron does for desktop apps what PWAs do for mobile apps. However, there are more differences between Electron and PWAs, so let’s look at the pluses and downsides of using Electron:
  • Electron only runs on desktop: Unfortunately, you can’t use Electron on mobile devices (which means you’ll have to build a separate mobile app if you want to build your desktop app with Electron).
  • Size: Electron apps are usually at least 45MB. Electron, a cross-platform app used to make web apps that have the features of a desktop app (without the drawbacks of a desktop app).
  • Speed: Electron apps need more scripts to run than Progressive Web Apps, so if not built well, they can be slow.
  • More customizable: Electron is more customizable than PWAs, meaning it’s easier to make apps with advanced features and functionality with Electron.
As you can see from this list, the disadvantages of using Electron usually outweigh the advantages of Electron, though it does depend on your use case. However, for eCommerce, PWAs are your best choice because they can be used across both mobile and desktop.

The best Frameworks to build your PWA with

The frameworks most commonly used to build PWAs are ones you are likely already familiar with.
First, we have Angular. It’s a framework with a lot of complexity and elements. It has a steep learning curve but a large development community, meaning you will find a lot of support when you can’t figure something out. Because of its complexity, it’s more suitable for larger projects than smaller ones.
Next up is React. Technically, it’s closer to a library than a framework. It’s very lightweight and more suited to smaller projects than Angular. Like Angular, it has a large community to help you tackle issues. It also is easier to integrate third-party tools with React, however, you’re more likely to need them in the first place over Angular in order to complete your project end to end.
Finally, we have Vue. It is very flexible in terms of integrations, and is based on HTML and CSS and easily integrates with TypeScript and Javascript XML. This means there are a lot of developers out there already familiar with most of the technology Vue uses even if they aren’t familiar with Vue itself. It also lends itself to scaling more than React and Angular.
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Progressive Web Apps are the future of cross-platform eCommerce, giving you all the benefits of a native mobile app and none of the drawbacks. While PWAs aren’t perfect, they’re still better than the alternatives, and it’s very easy to set one up for your eCommerce business.
Do you want your own Progressive Web App, but don’t have the in-house tech team to help you design and build one? The team of React developers and Angular developers at CodeClouds can help you build the Progressive Web App your business needs.

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