Do you know what PWAs are? 6 reasons they’re going to stir up mobile navigation

Right now, you may not be able to answer what exactly PWAs are.

But you’ll sure be hearing this term quite often in the coming years. 😉

PWAs are a new technology related to smartphone apps, and they may become a turning point in terms of mobile marketing strategies.

And this, in turn, affects online businesses.

If you’d like to know how or why, pay close attention because this post will tell you:

  • What PWAs are
  • What makes them so appealing for every e‑commerce (and examples of shops that are already using them)
  • Strengths and weaknesses of this new technology

Ready? Off we go.

👉 What PWAs are and why you need to get acquainted with them

PWA stands for Progressive Web App.

However, unless you have some notion about app programming and design, you may still be wondering what on earth that means. 😉

No worries – by the end of this post, you’ll have become an expert on the subject.

But in order for you to fully understand PWAs (and why they represent the future of online stores), we need to start with the basics.

✅ 1. Web apps and native apps

If someone says “mobile apps”, you may instantly think of those programs you download and install on your cellphone that add different functionality to it (WhatsApp, for example).

Those are what we call “native apps”, and they’re specifically designed for mobile devices.

On the other hand, we also have the so-called “web apps”, which you’re probably not so familiar with. 😉

And that’s totally fine since many of them are meant to go unnoticed while you use them. They’re not downloadable apps; instead, they’re executed by your smartphone’s browser.

An example? Well, both Twitter and Facebook make use of them.

What that means is any time you log in to one of those sites through your phone’s browser (rather than the native app), what you’re actually seeing is a web app, not a website.

Those were the two main types of apps we had until recently – but then came PWAs.

✅ 2. So what makes PWAs different from normal apps?

Rather than differences, we should talk about what they have in common.

Progressive Web Applications are apps that work on all devices and include all the perks of both native and web apps.

Here’s an example.

Imagine you decide to change your current website (built on WordPress, PrestaShop or any other CMS) to use a PWA instead.

Your online store would still look like a normal website with its URL and everything, but its inner technology would be like what a mobile app­ uses.

Right, but why would you want to do that? Here’s an illustrative example:

Retail giant Alibaba replaced their old website with a PWA and increased mobile conversions by 76%.

And that’s just one of the many benefits these new apps bring to the table. 😉

👉 Pros and cons of PWAs for online stores

Enough with the technicalities. Let’s move on to what you really want to hear: why you should you seriously consider PWAs for your strategy.

As with any technology, these apps have many points in favor as well as some drawbacks.

And we’re going to present both sides of the coin so you can decide if you want to use them or not. 😉

✅ 1. Pros

Let’s start with the upside of progressive applications.

➡️ A. Super-fast loading speed

You already know how important it is to have a fast-loading website for your e‑commerce (and how a slow site can kill your sales).

But you also know that it’s harder to achieve on mobile devices.

In part, it’s unavoidable; computers will always be more powerful than phones, so the loading speed of the latter will always be slower.

But that’s precisely what makes PWAs so interesting.

Since they’re built as mobile apps, they’re incredibly efficient in terms of processing.

The way they’re designed makes them a very light tool, which means mobile devices don’t need to use as many resources compared to loading HTML-code pages.

And that’s where the second point comes into play.

➡️ B. Real responsive design

This idea of websites adapting to all screen formats is nothing new. In fact, Google’s been penalizing websites that lack responsive designs for quite a while now.

The problem is that this technology is still not perfect.

Sometimes, even if you’re using a well-designed template, it still fails to work properly on certain devices (such as older models or those with uncommon screen dimensions).

It could be that the text exceeds the screen capacity and makes reading uncomfortable, or perhaps there’s a call-to-action button that can’t be pressed because it’s not in the right place.

While these inconveniences aren’t the end of the world, any mistake of this sort can have a negative impact on user experience.

Well, PWAs are going to change that too.

To facilitate the connection between user and webpage, a responsive design adapts the computer-based HTML code of the page to smartphone screens.

However, PWAs are built on phone-based technology.

Consequently, the adaptation to any device (be it a computer, smartphone, or tablet) is much more precise.

And if you add an astonishing loading speed to the equation, you get…

➡️ C. Improved user experience = more sales

Alibaba’s success is far from luck or chance.

As you know, your website’s user experience plays a substantial role in turning users into clients.

Not only that – also consider that most users shop online from their phone, so a system that improves the mobile experience is a recipe for success no matter how you look at it. 😉

➡️ D. Improved SEO positioning

After everything we’ve told you, there’s something you may be wondering:

If it’s an app, what happens with my positioning on Google?

As it turns out, it improves quite a bit. 😉

At the end of the day, PWAs are still webpages, and Google’s robot is more than capable of reading their source code and indexing them as it does with every other page.

Couple that with other SEO-determining factors, such as a quick loading speed, a highly flexible design, and improved user experience, and you’ll be set.

In fact, PWA e‑commerce shops are likely to have an advantage when it comes to SERPs.

➡️ E. Your shop works 24/7 (even with no Internet connection)

This is the main difference between a website and a PWA.

If your online visitors lose their Internet connection, an error-404 message will pop up. With a PWA, in contrast, they’ll still be able to keep browsing and use most functions as if it were a native app.

That means they’ll still have access to your catalog and will even continue to receive notifications as they normally would.

The only difference is that they won’t have any online options available, so they won’t be able to place an order. However, they’ll be able to keep adding products to their cart for when their connection is restored, for example.

➡️ F. Native push notifications

Unlike websites, which make it necessary to install a plugin, PWAs have their own system to generate push notifications.

And that means:

  • They work on every device: no need to install anything or have it done by a developer, no matter if it’s on a website, a phone, or even a wearable device (such as smartwatches).
  • They can be geolocated: PWAs can connect with the rest of the applications on your phone, including GPS. A good way to make the most of this function is to send your clients a notification when they’re near your physical shop to let them know about current offers. If your products are sold abroad, you can segment notifications by country even for users without accounts.

As you can see, PWAs unlock a huge potential when used properly.

✅ 2. Cons

Now it’s time to analyze the drawbacks.

Rather than “drawbacks”, we should talk about those few aspects still lacking from such a new technology.

Let’s have a look.

➡️ A. Limited functionality

PWA technology still remains underexplored.

Therefore, their use is still limited. For example, unlike native apps, PWAs still don’t have access to phone cameras.

But time will sort that out.

➡️ B. You can’t create the shop yourself

This could be considered the most significant disadvantage.

For the time being, there’s no CMS equivalent for PWAs until further advancements are made.

In other words, you can’t download a platform like WordPress, PrestaShop, or Magento and create an online store yourself – you need to ask a developer to do it for you.

Again, this will most likely change in the future.

👉 Now you know all the potential PWAs have for e‑commerce

But does that mean you need to go ask a programmer to turn your online store into a progressive app right away?

Not necessarily.

It’s a new technology with lots of room for improvement, but you should certainly keep an eye on it.

In the meantime, you should carry on working on all the aspects that affect the user experience of your website, such as:

You can’t say we didn’t give you enough homework. 😉