January 15, 2019
There’s no question that mobile is the most transformative force in retail today, a trend that was on full display throughout the 2018 holiday shopping season. According to the Adobe Analytics Holiday report, mobile traffic soared with more than half (51.4 percent) of traffic originating from smartphones alone yet mobile accounted for just 31 percent of revenue. This is a stark reminder that many retailers have yet to crack the code on improving mobile conversion rates and the complexity of building and optimizing experiences across channels.
Today, we are excited to announce the general release of Progressive Web Applications (PWA), a suite of tools for building online stores with app-like experiences that help merchants solve the mobile conversion dilemma and delivery highly personalized cross-channel experiences, in addition, new innovations across Adobe Experience Cloud that help retailers excel in CXM across physical and digital storefronts.
PWAs represent a seismic advancement in the evolution of the mobile web, similar in magnitude to the transition that happened five years ago from conventional desktop sites to responsive web design. PWAs blur the lines between mobile app and mobile site by equipping merchants and developers with a new front-end architecture that allows them to leverage open web APIs to build “app-like’ experiences directly in the browser that are fast, engaging, boost online conversions and enhance the pervasiveness of the in-store experience.
PWAs Solve Multiple Challenges for Retailers
When executed properly, native apps can provide an experience that is so frictionless that they provide a much better shopping experience than the desktop (think Apple or Amazon). The problem is that mobile apps are expensive to build and maintain and consumers only use apps from brands with which they regularly interact. According to Gartner, most brands cannot expect to convince even 10% of customers to download their app—meaning their mobile website handles the vast majority of customer interactions.
This is where PWAs shine: they deliver fast and slick “app-like” experiences in the mobile web browser, allowing retailers to tackle multiple challenges at once:
Faster Browsing – PWAs are much faster to interact with as well as provide smoother scrolling and transitioning of pages as the experience “progressively” changes thus removing the need for pages to “re-load”. Early adopters such as AliExpress have seen 100 percent jump in conversion rates since making the switch and Google even provide a testing tool (Lighthouse) so you can benchmark your PWA's performance
Instant "App" Gratification – PWAs are instantly discoverable and usable via the browser, thus eliminating the need to “download” or “install” an app before use.
Push Notifications – An exciting proposition for online marketers is that PWAs support push notifications (on Android devices) in the browser, extending the opportunity for marketers to send real-time, contextual and personalized communications with a simple “one click” opt-in directly from the PWA site.
Rapid Re-Engagement – Just like a native app, a PWA can be “saved” to the home screen (on Android devices), allowing for rapid repeat access without the need to open the browser and type in a URL. Furthermore, PWAs operate in “full-screen” mode, hiding the browser URL bar on the top and the browser navigation tools on the bottom of the screen for a native “app-like” look and feel.
While general awareness of PWAs is on the rise, their impact extends far beyond mobile. PWAs enable functionality such as push notifications and location to be built into the architecture of the website, leveling the playing field for all brands to deliver highly personalized cross-channel experiences at precisely the right time, all at a fraction the cost of a mobile app. Retailers, for example, can build contextual in-store capabilities into their PWA such as native integration with the device camera to scan shelf barcodes and integrated payments with Google and Apple Pay for in-store purchases. The benefit of PWA’s in the store is that they are instantly accessible via the browser, fast and reliable meaning retailers don’t have have to connect consumers to their in-store wi-fi to deliver a great mobile experience with their brand.
They also have the potential to open-up a whole new world for store associates. Shoppers expect sales associates to be knowledgeable about online products, which can be a logistical challenge. Looking forward, PWAs have the potential to replace legacy POS systems and retail associate platforms providing a fast, efficient and cost-effective way for store associates to locate product online and in-store, provide self-checkout, service returns and save the sale and more directly from an employee’s smartphone.
From boosted customer and in-store engagement and higher conversions to lowered development costs, PWAs offer unprecedented opportunities for merchants.