Despite the proliferation of the Internet of Things and the advent of virtual reality, chances are your cell phone is still your primary gateway to the internet. A combination of consistent year-over-year growth in the number of unique mobile users around the world and continually improving mobile broadband connectivity make it a safe bet.
This new reality has had profound implications on the way consumers shop. Mobile has essentially killed the traditional marketing funnel. There’s no longer a linear path from awareness to purchase. Instead, we live in a world of fractured, fleeting mobile moments.
Because the phone is such a personal device, consumers have high expectations for mobile shopping, and the cost and complexity of meeting those expectations have grown exponentially for businesses. Unfortunately, you’re not setting those expectations — innovative technology companies and startups are.
In other words, you aren’t competing with like-for-like competitors anymore; you’re competing with the last great digital experience your customer had.
Anatomy of the Progressive Web
We’re beginning to see the convergence of the mobile web itself with native applications. Developers of native apps are increasingly trying to garner the advantages of being frictionless and having a massive reach, which the web has enjoyed for years.
Conversely, mobile web developers are looking to capture the engagement and lifetime value that we’ve seen in native apps. With progressive web app technology, you’ll have an app-like experience that’s two to four times faster than a native app. What the progressive web apps ultimately provide — and what customers will begin to demand — is improved performance, which, in turn, means faster interactions and higher customer conversion rates.
How? Progressive web apps improve the customer experience in the following ways:
1. Improving the loading experience: Traditionally, a client clicks on a link to request content from a server, the server sends the content, the client waits, the user sees a flash, and then the content loads all at once.
In the new, progressive web app model, the client requests the content, the server fills in what it can immediately, and then it fills in the rest as it comes in. It feels very fast. Even if the content doesn’t actually load faster, the user perceives it loading much faster, creating a more effective experience.
2. Optimizing engagement: With progressive web apps, you can ask people to add a site to their home screen — not just an updated rendition of the bookmark you’re used to seeing but an actual icon. Your business thus gets brand real estate in the form of the icon that launches your website, which includes a full app-style splash screen leading into an immersive, app-like experience with no visible URL.
Users can receive push notifications at any time based on habits or proximity without having to download a native app. This a huge plus for businesses and consumers, especially because nearly three-fourths of consumers see push notifications as a valuable way to connect with their favorite brands.
3. Providing a seamless experience: Another major benefit of progressive web apps is that they give users offline functionality within the mobile web. Offline functionality doesn’t mean off-the-grid activity for days or weeks, but it does mean smoother transitioning between networks.
Most people are on flaky networks. If they’re not, they’re probably transitioning between their own network and Wi-Fi or in a car losing connectivity. Now, consumers can start a cart, enter a tunnel on the tube, lose connectivity, and continue seamlessly without noticing any interruptions.
4. Broadening customer engagement tactics: Mobile customer engagement isn’t just about design and UX — it’s also about how you’re interacting with your customer in key mobile moments. Mobile engagement should focus on retention by building and emphasizing non-transactional touch points.
Progressive web apps will affect not only online commerce, but also in-store experiences. Given that 82 percent of mobile shoppers actually complete their purchases in physical locations, it’s important to recognize the connection between online and offline.
Shoppers don’t need to download a native app to access your online store; progressive web apps offer a user experience far superior to the standard mobile shopping experience they’ve grown accustomed to. Soon, progressive web apps will make the notion of online stores being always available and accessible a reality.
Mobify provides mobile commerce services to 14 of the Top 1000 online retailers in North America, according to Top500Guide.com.