Why Progressive Web Apps Have the Potential to Replace Mobile Apps

by April 5, 2017 0 comments

A colleague of mine recently said me, “Hey, how about using Progressive Web App (PWA) technology, instead of native app” which made me dig deep on PWA to know more about it. Well, here is what I found.

Web technologies have evolved over a period time and so did the capabilities that they can achieve. Gone are the days when companies had to maintain a separate workforce to develop applications for various platforms and devices. Small companies who can’t afford to pay developers, yet wants to have a product which can deliver rich experience that a mobile app could offer. Progressive Web Apps is the solution which takes advantage of the capabilities that modern browsers can provide.

“A Progressive web is nothing but a website which can deliver a mobile app-like experience using modern web technologies.”

Progressive Web Apps is the term coined by Alex Russell, a Google Engineer and Frances Berriman in 2015. Google has been working very hard to make PWA preside over mobile apps for the various advantages that they provide, as summarised below.

With the features such as Offline functionality, fast loading, responsive interface, push notifications, Bluetooth, etc, PWA gives the exact experience like the mobile apps. These features were not achieved by websites earlier.

Progressive Web App & Shopping

The new reality, Progressive Web App will change the way consumers shop. We all have witnessed over the recent years how Mobile Commerce has changed the way consumers shop and influence them in their shopping. There’s no more an undeviating path from brand awareness to purchase. Instead, we live in a world of omni-channel, multi-layered approach to reach consumers.

Since the phone in the consumer’s pocket has literally replaced their wallet and is one of their primary companion for shopping, consumers have high expectations from mobile commerce, and the cost to meet those expectations have grown rapidly for businesses and brands.

Progressive web apps will affect not only e-commerce, but also in-store shopping. According to a research by Google, 82 percent of mobile shoppers actually complete their purchases in physical brick-and-mortar stores, it’s important to recognize the connection between online and offline and Progressive Web App can be a great catalyst in bridging O2O for Local Shopping.

Consumers don’t need to download native app anymore to access the online store, their purchase history, place repeat order or to store their preferred payment information; progressive web apps offers superior user experience compared to native mobile apps, with options for quicker checkout, user profile and browsing relevant products. With improved loading experience, options for users to add the PWA site on their home screen so the brand gets the real estate on users’ phone, contextual push notifications, and with offline functionality, progressive web app is here to stay and to displace native apps.

Recently, Founder of Tapzo said that about 60 to 80% of of users uninstall any app that they install within 90 days (except for the top 10 apps), and primary reason being is due to Lack of Storage. Also sometimes we need to ask to ourselves, do we really need an app for that. Where most e-tailers and online businesses, think having a native app can encourage consumers to engage with their brand better and can increase repeat business, but research shows that this may not be the case and especially when are not frequent transactional touch points, having an app may not be necessary. However, with PWA, at almost the fraction of the cost of building native apps, businesses can reach out to users across devices (Android, iOS, Windows and Web) and channels.

Key features of a PWA

Responsiveness: The application fits the device form factor. I.e., it seamlessly works across devices such as. Desktop, Mobile or Tablet.

Experience: PWA gives app like feel and even a superior experience than what an app does. For Eg. The splash screen for mobile apps can be achieved using PWA as well.

Engagement: PWA supports features like push notifications, e.g., custom-tailored notifications, very similar to native mobile apps. This helps in re-engaging the user on a higher level. One could add the app to the browser’s home screen to access it whenever one wants.

Offline Functionality: One major concern when it comes to websites is functioning in offline mode. However, with PWA, offline functionality of an application is completely achieved.

Accessibility: PWA can be accessed from any browser of the user’s choice (anytime and anywhere). That’s because it’s as simple as typing the URL in the browser and the app loads instantly. This totally eliminates the problem of the phone running out of memory, and one need not have to worry or get frustrated to delete the apps as there is no need to download an app in the first place.

Faster Loading: Since PWAs are built using modern web technologies like service workers the applications load almost instantly and reliably irrespective of the network connection that one is using.

Indian Companies who leveraged the capabilities of PWA

●     Flipkart Lite: Flipkart is one of India’s largest e-commerce giant. They created a progressive web app called as, “Flipkart Lite” that resulted in a 70% increase in conversions. They took advantage of the features that progressive web apps offer such as service workers, push notifications, add to home screen, splash screen, and smooth animations and it resulted in the following:

○     3x less data usage

○     40% higher re-engagement rate

○     Users spend more time on the platform

○     70% conversion rate

●     Housing: Housing.com is one of India’s top real estate startup. They created a progressive web app which resulted in a 38% increase in conversions across browsers and also the following:

○     40% lower bounce rate

○     10% longer average session

○     30% faster page load

Source: Google PWA Showcase

Tip for Developers: If you are looking to build an application now, it’s time to leverage PWA, considering the vast range of advantages it provides you.

By Abhiram Talluri, Product Manager, ShopsUp

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