Progressive Web Apps are taking the world of web development by storm. They’re the perfect solution for those companies who deliver a top quality experience with their web app and would like to do the same for their mobile users. If your e-commerce business could use a boost (to conversion, re-engagement, and more), look into adding PWA functionality to it. Let’s take a look at the kind of impact PWAs can have.

Progressive Web Apps were introduced by Google to solve a problem: some mobile apps were simply not practical for users to install on their devices, and the effort required to start using a mobile app was a big barrier to entry. PWAs solve this problem, as they don’t need to be downloaded or installed, but still offer a mobile experience that rivals that provided by native apps. Thanks to push notifications, a home screen icon, a custom splash screen and clever solutions helping PWAs run smoothly despite a weak internet connection or an old device, some of these apps provide a better experience than native ones.

Increase new user conversion rates by 104% - AliExpress

This Chinese distributor selling a wide variety of goods to shoppers worldwide is part of the Alibaba Group. They noticed the fast growth of the mobile market (faster than web e-commerce) and wanted to use mobile as their main platform for discovery. That’s why they needed to deliver a polished design and functionality, and did so, yet their mobile app didn’t perform as well as their web platform. Not everyone was willing to download and install their custom app.

To solve this problem, AliExpress built a cross-browser Progressive Web App. They noticed the positive change immediately. Their conversion rates for news users rose by 104%, and their conversion rates on Safari by 82%. They noticed that users would visit twice as many pages each session, and that session length increased by 74% on average, on all browsers.

Boost conversion rates by 70% - Flipkart

Flipkart is the largest e-commerce platform in India. Their mobile users were more engaged thanks to the high quality experience they delivered, but the company found difficulty in providing a similar quality of experience on other platforms. The mobile web offered all of the features of native apps, as well as faster performance, offline functionality and re-engagement features. Flipkart decided to take a huge step forward and combine their web and mobile presence into a PWA: Flipkart Lite.

The results speak for themselves. Flipkart Lite had shorter loading times (even with a weaker internet connection) and used 3x less data. Users were still able to add the app’s icon to their homescreen, just without the download & install process. Conversion rates among the users that chose to do so soared by 70%. Flipkart reports that 60% of their current users launch Flipkart Lite from their homescreen icon. Just this single feature improved Flipkart’s engagement rates by 40%. Because the PWA runs so smoothly, users spend more time on the site (3.5 minutes on average with Flipkart Lite, compared to 70 seconds with the previous mobile experience). This means 3x more time spent browsing Flipkart’s products.

Lower bounce rate by 40% - Housing.com

As one of India’s top startups and real estate market leaders, Housing.com saw around 50 million visits in 2016. They witnessed the negative effect of slow load times on the engagement of their mobile users, and the impact it had on conversion. Their internal research suggested that improving load times by even one second would significantly boost conversion rates. Another challenge they faced was poor connectivity and a large number of low-spec devices among their users. Developing a native mobile app was a partial solution to the problem (thanks to offline functionality), but users were reluctant to spend large chunks of their limited data plans, or their device storage space, to download the app.

Housing.com decided to test the benefits of PWAs by building one: Housing Go, a mobile web experience that was faster, used less data and still offered many re-engagement opportunities for users. They saw their conversion rates rise by 38% across all browsers, and their bounce rate fell by more than 40%. Thanks to service workers and other PWA functionalities, Housing Go users can easily and quickly find what they’re looking for, review previous searches while offline, and more. Page-load performance was boosted by 30%. The resulting improved experience encourages users to spend 10% more time on each session and return to the app more often.

Which PWA features can help your e-commerce business

Mobile friendliness

If your reason for considering PWAs is that you currently lack a native mobile app, remember that most modern users interact with the online world through their mobile devices. Globally, 62% of users access the internet from their phones. It’s extremely important to deliver a high-quality user experience, and more so for e-commerce businesses. Consider the availability of mobile devices worldwide - they’re often cheaper and easier to adopt than desktop computers. The growing computational power of mobile devices makes them a very potent platform for interacting with your customers, while their incredible functionality and omnipresence offers unique advantages for building multichannel shopping experiences.

Two common shopper behaviours make adopting a mobile strategy a necessity: showrooming and webrooming. Showrooming happens when someone wants to buy, say, a pair of headphones. They either have a product in mind, or several, or none. They go to a physical store, where they can test several different headphones and choose the model that suits them best. Then they go back home and make the purchase online. This happens because customers trust their own senses more than photos and descriptions on a website, but prices online are better.

Webrooming is the opposite of showrooming. Webrooming happens when customers do their research online, then purchase the product from a physical store. Sometimes, this research phase happens well before they go shopping, but often, they check reviews, specifications, etc., while in the store, browsing the products! A Harris poll gives us the numbers: in the US, 69% of shoppers webroom, while 46% showroom. These are huge chunks of the market, which means that your store’s omnichannel experience matters quite a bit. PWAs can help you improve it for all users, regardless of internet speed or device specifications, all without a huge investment.

Push notifications

When users interact with a Progressive Web App for the first time, they can choose to allow push notifications. These notifications look exactly like what you’d expect from a native mobile app, and have the same result - a huge boost to user re-engagement.

Professional appearance & smooth UX

PWAs look just as good as any native mobile app. They can also provide a better experience to users with slower internet, older devices, limited data plans or limited device storage space. The results are pretty exciting: more time spent on site, longer sessions, and more trust from users who feel that their needs have been taken into account.

Faster page load

Thanks to service workers and the magic of caching, a lot of PWA content can be “remembered” by the user’s browser, and simply displayed again the next time the user chooses to launch the app. This means that users don’t need to wait for a page to load, which lowers bounce rates.

Homescreen icon

Flipkart noticed a big rise in conversion rates of those users who launched their PWA with the homescreen icon. Overall, the feature is an improvement to UX, as it’s a quick and painless way for users to get to the information they want and interact with the app.

Wider reach

As already mentioned, some users (those with slow devices, slow internet connection, limited data plans and limited device storage) are reluctant to download and install native mobile apps. It’s just not convenient or pleasant for them. PWAs solve this problem entirely. What’s more, PWAs have recently been upgraded with the option for Google Play Store publication. App store listings and user reviews are a great way to attract new customers to your platform.

Multiplatform approach

Simply put, developing three separate apps (one for the web, one for Android and one for iOS) is more expensive than going with Progressive Web Apps. The savings made this way can be put to better use by improving your app’s design, for example. It’s also a great way to narrow your focus onto delivering the best possible experience (instead of spreading it across three different apps).

In conclusion, Progressive Web Apps are a fantastic solution for e-commerce. The case studies presented in this article prove that metrics such as conversion rate, bounce rate, time per session and re-engagement can be boosted by building a PWA. If you’re still not sure whether the approach is for you, talk to us - we’d be happy to answer your questions.

Looking for a team that will build the perfect Progressive Web App for your e-commerce business?
Contact iRonin. Our experience with both PWAs and e-commerce projects means we’ll help you deliver real value to users and give your business a boost.