PWA- A Fad or the Future of eCommerce?

PWA is the booming hype of 2018 that has procured significant attention lately, due to its exhibiting features- Reliable, Engaging and fast.

What is Progressive Web Apps?

In 2015, a Google Engineer, Alex Russel came up with the idea of launching new web applications that would simplify the users’ browsing experience. The idea involved a faster loading of the web pages even when you work offline or in fluctuated or slow networks.

A Progressive Web Application looks and behaves just like a mobile application, and it can be added to the main screen of your smartphone, access the hardware of the device, send push notifications, and work offline. Yes, you read it right. PWAs work just as smoothly in the absence of a network or with a poor internet connection, as it would be with full Internet access.

According to Forrester, mobile commerce will continue to enhance and contribute to approximately half of the retail sales growth in the upcoming four years. However, merchants struggle with small conversion rates, building and managing multitude of disconnected experiences, PWA can prove to be the perfect solution for the retailers who want to drive revenue and customer engagement.

Mobile Commerce

PWA and Magento

PWA has now become a new front end to Magento 2 that aims to combine the advantages of the existing apps and websites. Magento 2 comprises of many strengths such as test coverage, APIs, and back-end development with dependency injection. However, the current front end does not belong to these strengths.

To understand the need for developing PWA, here’s a brief of the existing front end of Magento 2.

Magento 2 consists of the same layout system as of Magento 1 for bigger parts of the front end. They are:
– Blocks (PHP classes)
– Templates (HTML code mixed with a bit of PHP code)
– Layout XML (For the structure)
– JavaScript (jQuery for managing dependencies)
– LESS (CSS preprocessor)

Main parts of UI components
– JavaScript (for logic)
– Template Files (HTML) for displaying HTML
– XML (to define the components)
– PHP classes for necessary data as JSON

While working well in practice, it also consists of a drawback:

– The framework is very complicated and thus, makes it a challenging task to understand what is going on

Although Magento has planned to simplify its working with UI components, the inherent complexities will always be there. Fortunately, the solution to mend these complexities has already been made, and we look forward to implementing it:

Magento Announces The Third Dimension of eCommerce – The Magento PWA Studio

Magento has recently announced PWA studio, a suite of tools for building eCommerce stores with app-like experiences. PWA is a software application, written in the Web platform and runs in the browser, which behaves like a cloud-delivered native application. It would allow Magento Commerce partners and UI/UX developers to develop simplified and fast front-end experiences on mobile devices.

Creating Magento PWAs with the Studio enables Magento developers to make online stores in less time, with less frustration and more confidence in the work. And every Magento PWA rolling off the line will be just one more instant shopping channel in your customer’s pocket, loading faster than the competition and giving you more powerful tools to manage your relationship with your customer.

What does the Magento PWA Studio have?

So, when it comes to Magento here’s what the suite includes for now:
1. Application Shell: A template file which is a basic PHTML file.
2. API-Layer: PWA will require some new API method other than the default REST.
3. Application Framework: The Magento PWA studio wants to work with a Magento store running in “Headless mode”. Which makes uses of “ReactJS” and “Redux” in various ways.

With all of this information around the web I started my research on PWA for Magento in order to adapt to the future technology. Let us explore more about PWA.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

PWA is relatively a new technology that allows you to pin the desired website to the home screen of your smartphone or use machine sensors. If we talk about Magento, then there is one factor that would make PWAs the future of eCommerce industry:

– PWAs allow decoupling of the front end and back end

Therefore, the company has re-imagined mobile shopping experience through PWAs, which would benefit the Magento merchants by driving more and more traffic.

“PWAs use the latest browser technologies to meld the accessibility of the web with the presence of the mobile app,” said Jason Wong, research director at Gartner. “It’s only a matter of time before PWAs become the new standard for web interactions, just as responsive design has become the norm rather than the exception.”


How is PWA different from the native apps?

It is a fact that native apps provide significant conversion rates and digital shopping experiences to the customers. To develop native apps, merchants face many inconveniences while running a small or medium-sized business;

1. Very expensive to develop
2. Potential customers prefer to download only specific brands’ app with which they frequently interact

Here’s how PWA has emerged to compete with the supremacy of native apps;

1. Reliable- Works offline and loads faster than any other regular app
2. Fast- Seamless animations, responsive scrolling, and smooth navigation even in fluctuating networks
3. Engaging- Receives push notifications and can be pinned on the home screen of the user

How would PWA Benefit the Magento Store Owners?

All the Magento developers are set to enjoy working on the latest technology, PWA, but what about the business owners? Will they benefit too?

Here are the key features of PWA, which would easily translate into benefits for you;

1. PWAs are SEO-friendly: All the credits to the JavaScript architecture that PWAs are easy to crawl through (by search engine bots). Hence, they are extremely fast, which makes them SEO optimized right from the beginning.
2. PWAs run efficiently on desktop browsers: Yes, that’s correct! Since service workers run on desktop browsers too, PWAs are also not restricted, only to the mobile web service.
3. PWAs will run on Safari: Shortly, definitely! Apple is planning ‘to do the necessary’ to make PWAs compatible with Apple devices too.
4. PWAs improve Performance: PWAs are faster due to the way the underlying technology caches and serves text, stylesheets, images and other content on the websites. Hence, boosting conversation rates, user experience, and customer retention rates from the improved performance.

To sum up,
Undoubtedly, PWA would provide the users with a smooth and responsive browsing experience that would significantly result in more clicks, more sales, and repeated visits of the customers. On a brighter note, PWAs can be considered as the future of eCommerce, which is used to simplify the user’s access to different websites.

It provides an entirely new experience to any online store. However, your decision on whether or not to choose PWA for your store should largely depend on the users’ interaction with your site to complete their session. So, if you are an eCommerce owner facing the same scenario, you might need to hustle-up to walk parallel with the ongoing trend, PWA. Hopefully, this article would help you to choose if you need PWA on your website or not!

Just give it a thought…!!

Do you think responsive web and native apps aren’t enough to run eCommerce industry? Share your opinions towards the launch of Magento PWA studio in the comments section below.

Sumesh Soman

An MBA in International Business, Sumesh (Business Development Manager) has been monumental to various big deals that Krish has got in the past 4 years and his cumulative capability in cementing clients trust has been phenomenal and a game changer for Krish.

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