How Progressive Web Apps are Affecting Mobile Commerce in 2018 and the Future

Oct 06

Mobile devices are now a regular part of daily modern life. These days, most people carry a smartphone or tablet wherever they go. With the use and dependence of mobile devices growing every year, developers have had to constantly improve user experience for websites, apps, and digital marketing channels. These improvements have also served to benefit media outlets, content creators, advertisers and online businesses, making it easier for them to capture the attention and the money of their audience.

Not that long ago, companies who optimized their website for mobile used to have a distinct advantage over their competitors. But with mobile optimization now the norm, businesses have to give consumers an even better mobile shopping experience. This is where Progressive Web Apps (PWA) come in.

Understanding PWAs

When viewed in relation to the mobile ecosystem, PWAs are essentially websites that offer the user an experience that’s nearly identical to that of a native app, only it’s within the confines of a conventional browser.

PWAs can be applied to an array of devices, from desktop to mobile. They do not require specialized technology to develop nor do you need extensive understanding of how to adapt code, making them relatively easy to run on either an Android or iOS system. This also means that users won’t have to go through an app store just to access a PWA website.

The State of PWAs in 2018

Progressive web apps got a major boost in 2017 when Chrome started to support them. The technology has since continued to evolve by leaps and bounds. Now PWAs are not only fully supported by Chrome, but by Opera as well while Firefox supports almost all features. Meanwhile, Microsoft Edge, the Samsung Internet Browser, and Apple are all working on supporting PWAs.

Medium’s study on PWAs in the eCommerce sector showed some interesting findings. For instance, out of the 5,000 eCommerce sites studied, 58% scored anywhere between 40 to 60 out of 100 on LightHouse. And 41% scored below 40 and about 1% scored over 60. This is because less than 2% of sites have a manifest or service worker file installed. Manifest files are also shown to be being used three times more than service workers.

The less than impressive score of the analyzed sites can also be explained by the fact that most websites are missing one or more of the crucial web app features like push notifications or offline mode.

There’s also an increase in HTTPS usage. From about 25 percent in the previous years, it’s now at 75 percent. With Google Chrome’s recent announcement that it would label website without HTTPS “not secure” by July, HTTPS usage is expected to grow even more. Among the URLs studied, 90 percent had an  average SEO grade of 85%.

Progressive Web Apps and the Future of Mobile Commerce

2018 is shaping up to be a big turning point for PWAs as Google is now actively pushing it. The search engine giant is coordinating with various partners to further develop this feature. One development currently on the docket is progressive app integration into different eCommerce platforms, like Magento.

PWA technology appears to be a perfect fit for the ever-expanding, demanding and expectant mobile user group. This demographic is known for wanting to see their content immediately and even while the site is offline. PWA offers companies the chance to engage and re-engage consumers, especially if they took the time to build a responsive page that adapts to small screens, delivers quick-loading images and transforms links to touch-friendly buttons.

Strangely enough, there have been reports stating that mobile app usage has been going down. One research has shown that while American mobile users spend about five hours a day on their devices, only 5% of that period are used on mobile shopping applications. This is reportedly due to consumers being unimpressed by their experience with retailers’ mobile apps and are now starting to turn to mobile web.

Hopefully, PWA will change this downward slide and improve mobile commerce. After all, progressive apps can act like native mobile apps. It brings additional convenience since the user doesn’t have to switch between the app and the browser while they conduct product research. PWAs can also work offline, offer push notifications and can be faster than apps. These features are key to getting results since consumers tend to leave sites that they think are too slow to load.

Progressive web apps are now starting to move mainstream, although it’s not quite there yet. However, the promised benefits and still untapped possibilities of WPAs mean that companies will surely be exploring this avenue more thoroughly this year.

[Featured image via Google developers page]

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