PWA’s are starting to move from mobile devices to desktops. As a shopper jumps from desktop to mobile and vice versa, the less jarring the experience, the better all channels will perform. A unified experience can affect customer perception and trust of the brand.

Drew Lau, vice president of product, Mobify

Drew Lau, vice president of product, Mobify

Retailers began investing in Progressive Web Appsa couple of years ago with a goal to drive more app-like experiences that convert mobile shoppers. Asthese pageshave shown, for fast performance, discovery, cost efficiency, and revenue on high-traffic mobile channels, you can’t beat PWAs. A recent Forrester report has the strongest statement yet: “It’s wrong to build any new web application that’s not a progressive web app.”

If PWAs are here to stay, where will they go next?

PWAs that began on mobile are moving across all screens. Digital leaders like British department store Debenhams started with a PWA on mobile, since it had the potential to generate the most revenue. Long-term, the plan was to separate the mobile customer experience from backend services so they could introduce more customer-facing projects in the future. This type of “headless commerce” is an emerging architecture that lets Debenhams be more agile to stay ahead of digital experience innovation. Now they’re extending their PWA for mobile and tablets to desktops for a unified experience. This is happening just as Chrome 73 adds support for desktop PWAs.

Initial tests of desktop PWAs have been eye-opening.

Why build a unified Progressive Web App? As Google explains, desktop use is still large and growing, and on average, drives more revenue than mobile. As a shopper jumps from desktop to mobile and vice versa, the less jarring the experience, the better all channels will perform. A unified experience can affect customer perception and trust of the brand. Overall, unifying the experience across screens makes sense, particularly since retailers are still struggling withcross-device marketing. Closing the capability gap between how apps perform and behave makes it easier for developers to build great experiences.

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Initial tests of desktop PWAs have been eye-opening. There are, for example, large differences in desktop page load speeds and key metrics, such as the time it takes to search for a product and add it to the shopping cart (known as time to task completion or TTC). We are talking about 50% faster than mobile, with TTCs clocking in at 30% faster. This is possible because PWAs let you cache and reuse data between pages, and leverage modern browser techniques to minimize page load times throughout the shopper journey. Since speed is money, such impressively fast metrics should translate to even higher conversions and revenue on desktop.

Another new type of PWA project centralizes content management in one place and delivers it through a separate PWA on the front-end to experiment with headless architecture and PWAs simultaneously. There’s much discussion about how to deliver front-ends most effectively, while getting full value out of back-end ecommerce platforms as well as content management systems.

‘Magic sauce’

Building custom front-ends to deliver content is problematic because they eat up resources are difficult to staff and operate, and can be inflexible to change. Achieving fast page loads and time to task completions, maintaining them over time, and creating a high-quality experience across screens takes a lot of effort and can contain hidden costs. Since a lot of the “magic sauce” required create an immersive experience is already in the PWA, developers are looking to leverage them.

Another new direction, for example, involves spinning out separate PWAs for different regions or brands. Some are looking at PWA-based “micro-experiences.” A separate PWA can let an athletic shoe brand, for example, offer a custom shoe design service PWA in certain markets. A global beauty brand can test its custom makeup offering with a PWA. A fitness retailer can offer a promising new digital capability on a regional level. Extending the PWA with micro-experiences can net a fast, revenue-generating machine on the front-end, separate from backend timelines.

As PWAs move further into the mainstream, many are predicting Google will elevate PWAs in search results. This makes it even more important to be there with a high-performing presence that can run, adapt, and evolve with the organization and the pace of technology.

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Mobify provides mobile commerce technology and services to 15 of the 1,000 leading online retailers in North America, according to Top500Guide.com.

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