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Short- and Long-Term Wins with Progressive Web Apps

Building a PWA is not an if; it’s a when

Dave Murack
Executive Vice President of Technical Consulting and Architecture at Astound

According to Statista, about half of global website traffic is attributed to mobile devices. The first quarter of 2019 saw mobile devices contribute 48.71 percent of web traffic worldwide. But despite the impressive numbers, mobile conversion rates are still among the lowest, consistently pegged at about half as strong as those from desktop devices, according to Monetate Ecommerce Quarterly Reports.

Poor mobile user experience is frequently cited as a major reason for the conversion disparity. To solve this mobile revenue quandary, many ecommerce retailers have resorted to short-term tactical and design solutions. While appreciating the immediate results and positive growth numbers arising from these quick fixes, executives are still pushing for more-strategic and longer-term approaches to mobile gains.

Enhancing User Experience

One way to address the user experience problem is by using a progressive web application (PWA) to bridge the divide between web and mobile experiences. PWAs, built using common web technologies and intended for use with any standards-compliant browser, offer users an app-like experience while leveraging modern web capabilities.

PWAs are reliable, fast, and engaging. Even in unstable or offline network conditions, they load fast and respond quickly to user interactions to deliver immersive experiences. In turn, this boosts your mobile revenue, enhances SEO efforts, and solidly positions your brand.

In today’s digital transformation conversation, building a PWA is not an if question but rather a when consideration. Understanding your options for incorporating PWA into your digital roadmap first requires a long-term ecommerce strategy to align with. Will you seek incremental benefits of PWA features by layering them into your existing desktop and mobile sites? Will you look to take a holistic approach, serving the entire user experience with PWAs and leveraging your ecommerce platform’s API capabilities? Or will you do both?

Making the right choice requires that you factor in your current mobile performance and the impact to your technology roadmap, and then calculate the benefits PWA features will bring to your desktop and mobile experiences.

Meeting Customers Where They Are

Building front-end experiences on a content management system or ecommerce platform can be disadvantageous to retailers. Working within the constraints of these platforms can slow the adoption of new technologies like PWAs and Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). Changes in user experience take time to deploy on these platforms, and in the event of re-platforming, customer experience may suffer or be deprioritized.

The holistic approach of implementing PWAs involves leveraging the concept of front end as a service (FeaaS). This solution gives your commerce teams the agility to adapt to ever-evolving customer experience expectations without dealing with the technical costs, limitations, and constraints imposed by an enterprise ecommerce platform. Once FeaaS is implemented, you can reap the benefits of your decoupled mobile PWA experience and can start to

  • Unify the customer experience by extending the PWA across all devices. This will reduce your cross-device marketing struggles, enhance customer brand perception and trust, and ultimately boost revenue.
  • Futureproof investments in customer experience to provide for continuous iterations, frequent user experience deployments, and keeping up with emerging customer-facing experience trends and innovations.
  • Invest in scalable ecommerce systems to provide better content and process control to your commerce teams and to allow for extensibility of your commerce ecosystem.

Today’s customers expect nothing less than seamless, channel-agnostic interactions that resonate with their personas and behaviors. Building a PWA with an iterative approach can provide short-term wins and a quick uptick in mobile revenue. On the other hand, implementing it with FeaaS extends the capabilities of your PWA, giving you the freedom to adapt to ever-evolving customer expectations. Or you can combine the two approaches to deliver a bold solution for the here and now while aligning with your long-term commerce strategy.


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