Why Your Decoupled Web Storefront Should be a Progressive Web App

Retailers and brands are separating their customer-facing web storefront from their backend systems (i.e. going headless) to gain the flexibility and agility to deliver on the expectations of today’s shopper. 

But what should this new storefront for headless commerce look like?

PWAs are the new responsive

Web technology evolves as customer expectations rise, and the latest bar for a good online customer experience is a Progressive Web App (PWA). 

A PWA is a website that uses modern web capabilities to create fast, app-like experiences that result in higher conversions and a healthy SEO boost. Mobify customer Lancôme saw a 36% boost in mobile revenue from their PWA, and multi-billion dollar UK department store Debenhams saw a 40% boost. 

Google’s Jason Spero, VP of Global Performance Media, shared that, “Alibaba.com, the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform, saw a 76% rise in conversions and four times higher interaction rate after it upgraded its mobile site to a PWA.”

PWA originated as a mobile technology, but maintaining two different codebases was time-consuming and resource-intensive, so it quickly evolved to become a cross-device technology. Think of a PWA as a responsive website – a single codebase for mobile, tablet, and desktop – but with faster page loads and more engagement features. 

Compared to a responsive site, a PWA is typically 2-4x faster. There’s plenty of research that shows that shoppers abandon low performing online experiences, so website speed can be the difference between closing a sale or losing a customer. This is why retailers and analysts alike are so excited about the technology, and why your decoupled web storefront should be a PWA. 

What you get from a PWA storefront 

Speed: PWAs provide both real and perceived performance enhancements. As a single page app, the PWA pre-loads and stores your website content on the shopper’s device while they browse. This results in faster page load times as the content is already rendered once they get to that page. Common elements like the page header persist through page transitions to give the perception of an instant response, and content placeholders are used to ensure the correct screen layout is immediately presented if there’s any remaining content that needs to be downloaded in the background. 

Reliability: PWAs work for every user, regardless of their device or browser, because one of the core tenants of the technology is progressive enhancement. They even work in uncertain network conditions and never show the dreaded Chrome dinosaur. Service workers (which provide a programmatic way to cache resources) enable “offline mode” so that shoppers stay engaged through those moments of limited or no connectivity – no more losing shoppers every time they ride the subway or get in an elevator. 

App-like Engagement: PWAs offer a rich, engaging experience thanks to modern web standards. They offer app-like features like “push notifications” and “add to homescreen,” and an app-shell model ensures smooth, app-like transitions, interactions, and navigation throughout the experience. 

The measure of a successful PWA storefront

All these PWA benefits ultimately lead to a better, faster online shopping experience, which translates to higher conversions. After launching a decoupled PWA storefront, retailers should see an increase across all their core ecommerce metrics – more conversions, higher average order value, lower bounce rate – but another key, less tangible result will be higher brand equity thanks to the improved customer experience.

Mobify offers a decoupled PWA storefront for headless commerce, get in touch to learn more about what a PWA experience could do for your brand. 

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