Retail has always been competitive, but competing in 2017 is different. Retailers have to not only beat competitors on product, but also outdo their customers’ last amazing digital experience.
Mobile has changed consumers’ expectations and how shoppers make purchases. The buying journey can start or end anywhere from the living room to the morning commute. E-commerce companies must create faster, more streamlined mobile experiences that you can have instantly without going through the conversion-killing App Store install process. Fortunately, Google has created a way to do just that: progressive web apps.
PWAs combine the best of the web and the best of native apps, providing an app-like experience that can be indistinguishable from a native application. Even better than a native app, a PWA runs inside of a web browser that customers can reach via organic search, SEM [search engine marketing, i.e., paid search ads], email, or any other web acquisition channel, giving you the best of both worlds: the reach of the web and the experience of a native app.
PWAs can be saved to your home screen, have splash loading screens, send push notifications, and possess all the great features that you would expect from a native application. The only difference is that with progressive web apps, customers don’t need to install any software on their phones.
Using PWAs allows e-commerce retailers to improve the customer experience, increase engagement, and increase the likelihood of a purchase being made.
Stop Making Your Customers Jump Through Hoops
Apps are great for engagement and streamlined navigation, but they come with one big caveat: You have to download them.
Apps average 15 megabytes to 38 megabytes in size, forcing customers to use up their bandwidth, go to the app store, search, install, and launch an application. It’s not surprising that, based on my company’s analytics, typical conversion fall-off rates for this process hover between 50 and 80 percent. Most customers don’t care enough to go to this much trouble. In fact, most mobile users have installed zero new apps in the past 30 days and spend most of their time in less than five apps, a phenomenon called “app fatigue.”
With a PWA, customers don’t have to download or install anything; they can spend 60 to 90 seconds of their mobile moment actually shopping on your website.
Need three more great reasons to consider a PWA?
- Bring an end to load times.What shoppers love most about native apps is that they’re fast. Websites, on the other hand, typically look and feel slow on mobile devices. You touch a link and watch while the page loads. Images and text jump around during this loading process.
This clunky web experience illustrates why most people prefer mobile apps. Progressive web apps react instantly to shopper touches with no jumpy loading. They don’t just look faster; they are faster. PWA technology can improve page load speeds by two to four times. When 53 percent of mobile site visits end after only three seconds, the element of speed is critical for customer retention.
- Preserve SEO value while delivering an app-like experience.Apps don’t have links, which are integral to SEO. Links are how customers share things with friends and how search engines like Google learn how to score the SEO of your content.
Shoppers still start their shopping journey by searching on Google. Having a great mobile web experience is what gives you great organic SEO and, of course, lowers your SEM cost.
- Reduce the need for connectivity.Most of us experience intermittent connectivity on a daily basis as we go in and out of buildings and elevators. Sometimes, you’ve got LTE (which is 4G-fast); sometimes you’ve got 3G. You’re in the city; you’re out of the city. Why should that interrupt your experience?
Connectivity will continue to be an issue for mobile users. Global IP traffic will increase 22 percent by 2020. This demand for bandwidth is outpacing the rate at which providers can increase supply. Fortunately, PWAs provide preloaded content consumers can engage with even when they’re offline.
If shoppers have visited certain web pages before, they can continue to visit those pages when they’re not online. They won’t be able to actually complete the transaction, but they can fill their baskets. Then, when they regain connectivity, you can send them a push notification to let them know they’re back online and help them finish the journey.
Implementing progressive web apps allows e-commerce retailers to improve the customer experience exponentially, as they combine the best of both worlds: native apps and websites. As competition for the best customer experience intensifies, you should embrace PWA technology.
Mobify provides mobile commerce technology and services to 15 of the 1,000 leading online retailers in North America, according to Top500Guide.com.