Why you should have a PWA in 2021

Eoghan Shanley
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For the last few years, those of us in the eCommerce sphere have heard a lot about PWA’s and how they are the next big thing for eCommerce. Yet, for many of us, PWA’s have not seen the uptake that we expected. But in recent months a number of advancements point to a shift in this, and the possibility of 2021 being the year of PWA eCommerce. But let’s backtrack first and explain what exactly PWA means.

What is a PWA?

PWA stands for Progressive Web Application. Magento describes it as a “next-generation web technology standard which delivers app-like shopping experiences via mobile and desktop devices.” While this does a good job of summarising what a PWA is, for some it may still not make a huge amount of sense. At its core, PWA sites operate similar to apps and make use of mobile systems while supporting offline use. PWA sites are accessible via browsers and also seamlessly work on desktop devices. They essentially provide a middle ground between having an app and a browser-based site, meaning eCommerce businesses no longer need to build a separate app and browser-based platform.

Is a mobile-first approach no longer enough?

A mobile first-approach is a term often used to describe the process of designing and developing a platform focusing initially on the mobile experience before translating it to desktop, instead of the more traditional desktop-first approach. So will PWA change this? In a way, no. PWA sites should still be built with a mobile-first approach. While the default elements may look and behave slightly differently, it still doesn’t change that the site will require the mobile experience to be defined before it can be translated into a desktop version. And with mobile users generating the largest share of revenue for eCommerce in 2020, its importance is only set to increase going forward.

So why move to a PWA?

PWA sites offer a plethora of benefits to both your business and your users. Such as the following:

Page speed:

Page loading times are a big issue for many eCommerce sites. Dozens of products, combined with live pricing and other backend factors can result in a slow loading time. And with various Google reports pointing to over half of site visitors leaving if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load (although we find that B2B users have more patience here), ensuring fast loading times is crucial. And in order to be classified as a PWA, it needs to start fast and stay fast. 

Offline use:

One of the biggest selling points for adopting PWAs is the ability to use them offline. Through their use of cache API’s and special scripts, they’re able to produce the components and layouts that we mentioned they have previously stored in the browser cache. Stripping back the technical aspects, this essentially results in users having access to your eCommerce platform wherever they are, regardless of wifi and internet connection. So whether they are on a plane, subway, or in the middle of nowhere they can access your eCommerce platform. And an experience like that will likely delight your users, and result in them relaying it to others; helping to promote a positive image of your brand. 

They’re installable:

Yes, that’s right, just like traditional apps, PWA’s are installable onto devices; this is partially what allows them to look, feel, and behave like other traditional apps. Similar to other apps, it runs in its own app window, and yes this is separate from the browser, and it appears in the task list, just like other apps. Why is this beneficial? Well, users who install apps tend to be part of a more engaged audience, with more repeat visits, longer visit times, and most importantly higher conversion rates.  

Notifications:

For many eCommerce platforms re-engaging users can be a tricky situation. Often marketing emails are left unopened, and social media is not always an option for some industries. That is where PWA’s offer an advantage over traditional eCommerce platforms. PWA’s are able to make use of notifications similar to how native apps can. Users can receive updates and information regarding site changes (such as sales) through push notifications. Push notifications have also been shown to actually be less annoying to users compared to emails, and even better, they have greater rates of engagement. 

No impact on SEO:

With SEO having even more prominence and importance for businesses, and requiring even greater consideration from both designers and developers; PWA’s can seem like a questionable decision. But not to worry, unlike native apps, PWA’s have URLs and therefore can be indexed by Google. Thus, your SEO rankings are safe. What’s more with PWA’s you can access analytics of your user’s actions and behaviour patterns and provide these to search engines, further helping your SEO ranking. This is something that native apps can not do. 

So is PWA right for you?

This can be a tricky question to answer. Every business is different, and thus we can’t provide a blanket statement. If your business receives primarily mobile traffic, and or has a high rate of return users, then definitely consider PWAs. If you don’t fit this category, then an analysis of your users and your business’s future plans and goals is a good starting point to answer this question. But if you are still unsure, or want to further discuss creating a PWA platform for your business then get in touch with us. Our team of Magento experts will be more than happy to discuss the options with you and help to determine whether a PWA platform, like our apex solution, is right for you.

If you want to discuss if a PWA is right for you or need help with your eCommerce platform then get in touch with our team at alastair.brodie@monsoonconsulting.com or call us on +353 (0)1 4750066

Eoghan Shanley Profile Picture

Eoghan Shanley,

Junior UI/UX Designer