Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Why PWAs are Taking Over Mobile Commerce

When it comes to mobile commerce, we’ve already witnessed the success it’s had this past year as smartphones contributed to 84 percent of eCommerce growth during the holiday season. Retailers recognize that mobile commerce isn’t going away anytime soon, which is why half of them are focused on developing a mobile app. But between native mobile apps, mobile websites, and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), how do retailers know which platform to choose? PWAs offer a unique solution to some of the issues retailers face (customer retention, conversions on websites, etc.), so let’s take a closer look at how PWAs are taking the retail industry by storm. 🌩

What Is a PWA? Will PWAs Replace Native Mobile Apps?

If you’re new here, you might be wondering what a PWA is, we’ll temporarily pause for a quick overview. A PWA is essentially the best of both worlds when it comes to a native mobile app vs web app. PWAs have the same feel as a native mobile app with the functionality that we all know and love, including:

  • Integration with native device functionality (camera, geolocation, push notifications, etc.)
  • Ability to install it to your home screen
  • Works offline

However, a PWA is different than a native mobile app because you don’t have to go through the app store to install it and takes up almost no storage on your device! App downloads are on the decline related to these two issues, which is why retailers need to seriously consider PWAs in their mobile strategies.

PWAs & Retail: The Perfect Match

Retailers are constantly thinking of ways to reach consumers, but 52 percent claim they often feel ill-prepared in adopting new technology. As mobile commerce continues to take off, retailers will need to do something to remain competitive. Enter PWAs. 20 percent of retailers already have a PWA…so how do we get the other 80 percent on the bandwagon?

Think back to a time where you were searching for something on your phone and it took longer than three seconds to load. Did you abandon the page? If you were like 53 percent of people then you probably did. No matter if consumers are shopping online or in-store, a fast and engaging mobile experience is the key to them returning to your mobile website or app.  Pinterest increased search engine traffic by 15 percent when they decreased their perceived wait time by 40 percent. Imagine what investing in a PWA could do for your brand!

Quick, accessible pages on websites aren’t the only thing on shoppers’ minds; shoppers want to have engaging experiences on mobile too! Augmented Reality (AR) has made some big waves with consumers. 50 percent of consumers are more likely to shop at a store that has virtual reality (VR) or AR capabilities. Take the beauty industry for example. Stores like Sally Hansen and Sephora have seen a lot of traction with consumers with AR (and as someone who has personally used Sephora’s capabilities, it can truly be the deciding factor in whether or not you purchase).

The Proof Is in the PWA 

What do Alibaba, Lancome, and West Elm all have in common? They all have PWAs! Let’s walk through these three examples of retailers seeing success with their PWA:

  • Alibaba: Even the world’s largest B2B commerce site needed to refresh its mobile strategy! Alibaba wanted to increase the amount of non-app users they had on mobile but found it difficult to create an engaging experience that would leave shoppers wanting to return. After developing a PWA they saw a huge amount of success with an increase of 76 percent of conversions.

“Delivering a mobile-first, user-centric mobile site that harnesses the best of the native app, with all the accessibility and versatility of the mobile web, is key to maintaining our competitive edge and the path to better conversions.”  – Zou Yu, director of mobile team,

  • Lancôme: Unless you’re a make-up addict, you probably aren’t buying makeup more than once a month… which means downloading a native app for one makeup brand isn’t probable…that’s why Lancôme rebuilt its mobile website into a PWA. Lancôme saw a 17 percent increase in conversions and a 53 percent increase in mobile sessions. More than 18,000 people have enabled push notifications to be alerted when there’s a new product release.
  • West Elm: When shopping for a big-ticket item (like furniture), you’re most likely comparing prices/products in-store…which means you need to be able to visit a retailer’s websites without experiencing interruptions. West Elm took advantage of PWAs reliability to develop their own…which paid off (literally). The company saw an increase of 15 percent of the time spent on its website and a 9 percent increase in revenue per visit.

Ready to Test the Water?

Even creating a PWA might not be enough to keep shoppers engaged with your brand on mobile…so why not make the shopping experience more fun? Here are some mobile moments that you could incorporate in your PWA to increase customer engagement on your website!

  • Mobile scavenger hunts & games
  • Searchable maps
  • Interactive shopping lists and more!

Want to learn more about PWAs? Listen to our Mobile Matters podcast episode where our very own Stephanie Cox discusses the Future of Mobile Web with Google’s Alex Russel!