Why Progressive Web Apps Matter for Retail

Want to know what Google has in store for retailers at the annual Google I/O developer conference this week?

In the accelerating shift to mobile, technology events such as Google I/O are ground zero for those in the know on the future of mobile development. This is where leading-edge retailers showcase their use of the latest mobile technology, including Android tech, payments, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and web technologies.

One topic on the agenda could fundamentally change the mobile web, and in the process, lay the foundation for a better way for retailers to reach and engage with their customers. This new development is called Progressive Web Apps, and some say it is what finally adapts the web to mobile and creates an environment for a future of streaming apps on the web.

What Is A Progressive Web App?

It isn’t just a single technology. Progressive Web Apps are an approach to building for the web. It partners an app-like design philosophy with a suite of modern browser technologies, including offline mode, sensor and camera access, beacons, web push notifications, splash screens, and instant or animated page transitions. Some of the technology used in Progressive Web Apps has been in browsers since HTML5. Some of the other technology is brand new and being announced for the first time at Google I/O this week. If you’re interested in getting the latest news as it’s announced, I’ll be taking over the @Mobify Twitter account and live tweeting from the conference to share all the exciting innovations, and what they mean for retailers and brands who want to cultivate more personal relationships with customers.

One of the reasons I’m so excited about Progressive is that the web is stepping out of pure experience technologies and into customer engagement. Building a complete Progressive Web App also means building a personal relationship and communication channel with your customer. Progressive Web Apps, when connected to the right engagement technology platform, let you deliver relevant, personalized notifications and content that drives action.

The PWA Experience

The Progressive Web App experience is also unquestionably better than a website built with previous generation web technologies. One of the most frequently cited reasons that apps convert higher than mobile websites is performance. Progressive Web Apps load instantly, and through the use of background processing technology called Service Workers, can pre-load page layouts to provide near instantaneous transitions, send push notifications, and provide branded experiences through custom splash screens and icons. No install is required and they work everywhere – desktop, mobile, or tablet.

One of the reasons there’s a lot of buzz about Progressive Web Apps is because users will not have to install them on their devices. All of the process and procedure issues of getting an app published go out the window. A Progressive Web App is effectively an app that streams to your customer’s device and is fully indexed by search.

You should start thinking about building out a Progressive Web App if:

  • Mobile web conversion rates are less than desktop or less than your app store app
  • Your mobile web traffic is more than half of the web visits to your store
  • Your relationship with your customer is a competitive advantage
  • Performance is an important business goal
  • Customer engagement and driving customer lifetime are marketing goals

Stay tuned. Follow me as I take over the @Mobify Twitter account this week for live updates from Google I/O.

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