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INTERVIEW Adobe discusses the true power of PWAs for retailers and consumers

PWAs: changing the face of Workwear Express

PWAs have the power to change how consumers use the internet, but what are they and how can retailers use them? Here we talk to Eric Erway, Group Product Manager, Adobe Commerce, to find out more

Internet Retailing (IR): What are progressive web apps?  

Eric Erway (EE): PWAs are essentially an evolution of responsive web design , where we use the webs capabilities to deliver an app like experience. In two to three years time it will just be the norm; it will be the ‘web done right’.  

IR: How did PWAs come about? 

EE: For several years there has been a problem that mobile conversion has been sub-optimal for web use on smartphones. It is getting better, but there has been a problem that sites just don’t give that app-like experience. And apps, as the data shows, see much higher levels of conversion. Google’s development of PWAs has essentially productised that optimisation and created a robust platform to build better web experiences. 

There is a balance to be struck: websites can be easily found, but offered a lower conversion as the experience can vary by device, network etc. Apps offer a much richer experience, but are expensive to develop and harder to get get consumers to use them – they can be harder to find. PWAs balances that, bringing the benefits of app experience to the ubiquity of the web. 

IR: What are the advantages of PWAs for retailers? 

EE: PWAs bring a range of advantages to retailers in particular. Creating just a web experience that also acts like an app brings the benefits of discovery, but it also lowers cost and complexity. You only have to create once to produce a PWA site with the desired shopping experience, rather than building an app and a site. This consolidation also reduces the costs of marketing as you are only pushing the one platform, a website. 

It also increases conversion – according to our figures by as much as 80% – because your property now reaches more people across all devices. 

There are also SEO advantages. PWAs work well with Google’s Core Web Vitals (see page 6), which measures how quickly a site loads, how rapidly it can be used and how stable it is once on a device – all things that can help it get found as well as how consumers can use it. 

PWAs also allow retailers to take a phased approach to adopting the technology as it can be developed in stages. Often, a retailer may look to create a storefront that meets its new demands and connect that to the existing back end. This can then more gradually be adapted and enhanced – with new content and new services – as the front-end experience is developed. It is really the gateway to headless commerce. 

IR: What are the advantages for consumers? 

EE: For shoppers, PWAs offer a better, faster and more consistent experience. They can give an app like richness but on the web and, whichever device they come to you on, they will get the same experience. Eventually, their phones will be full of bookmarks on screen not apps. 

IR: How can you help? 

EE: Magento PWA studio is the ideal place to start. It is a set of tools developed to help create and deploy headless commerce and PWAs on Magento. It provides a sample site so that users can try out all the PWA functionality and the developments that they have created. It is a great place to start and to learn about what PWAs can do. 

IR: What is next for PWAs? 

EE: We have only just scratched the surface of what is possible with PWAs. How we also use geotargeting, messaging, and how that can also be used to help in-store journeys is really exciting. There are also going to be moves to make it work offline and internationally, so that for those out of network range – such as on a plane – or travelling abroad, their favourite sites also work. Not everyone has 5G and a $1000 phone, so it has to work well for everyone.  

The integration of push messaging from sites to phones also has huge potential to revolutionise how brands and consumers communicate. However, this must be done carefully so that it adds value and isn’t a constant barrage. Push has to be used for good not evil or it will harm how people use it. There is much more to come with PWAs and, in a few years, it will be just what the web is like. 

Download the full PDF PWA guide book, featuring interviews with Google, Adobe and JH, as well as a Case Study outlining how Workwear Express leveraged PWAs to learn how progressive web apps can work for you

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