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Samir Addamine, CEO, FollowAnalytics

As brands searched for the most effective ways to reach people through their desktop computers, people shifted their allegiance – and their attention – to their mobile phones. This has posed new challenges for businesses as they struggle to find the best way to create a mobile experience that keeps users engaged while making it easier for them at every stage of the customer journey.

For retailers who are constantly looking for ways to maximize revenue, finding the perfect format for these experiences can be a complicated and expensive process. After all, having to create a custom app for your website that not only lets people browse the products you offer, but also completes the buying process, requires a significant amount of technical expertise, as well as time. and money. Alternatively, retailers can choose to focus on their existing infrastructure by creating a mobile version of their websites, which would then give users the ability to perform all the same actions as the desktop website without having to download an app. distinct.

Both PWAs and native mobile apps offer significant benefits to retailers, which is why they shouldn’t be limited to one or the other.

But there’s also a third option, one that takes the best of both approaches: building a Progressive Web App (PWA). Although there is much debate over the exact definition of a PWA, Google defines Progressive Web Apps as “user experiences that have the reach of the web” while being reliable, “even under uncertain network conditions” and able to respond quickly to user interactions, with the feel of “a natural app on device, with an immersive user experience.” Or, to put it more simply, PWAs are apps that can be accessed through the web, instead of having to be downloaded from an app store.

That’s not to say retailers shouldn’t have native apps. A Comscore report found that mobile apps were responsible for 57% of all digital media usage, while eMarketer research noted that mobile apps accounted for more than 90% of time spent on the internet in the using a smartphone. But, as the eMarketer report also points out, almost half of that time is spent “in an individual’s best app” – and the likelihood of a retailer’s app being anyone’s favorite app which individual is relatively weak, given competition from Facebook and Spotify. .

Benefits of PWAs

In this case, having a PWA is a great way to bring native app functionality to a retailer’s mobile experience. Not only that, it also confers several benefits. First, due to the technical requirements of the web application itself, it is able to load much faster, even under less than ideal network conditions. Given that 53% of users say they will leave a site if it takes too long (i.e. more than 3 seconds) to load, speed is everything, and any tool that can reduce the delay experienced by users will help improve conversion rate. Second, depending on their device, users have the option to download these apps from their homepage, eliminating the need to visit the App Store and navigate away from the website. Depending on the granted permissions, PWAs can also send push notifications to users, thereby raising consumer awareness and ensuring that the brand remains top of mind for consumers.

For brands, it might seem obvious to switch to PWAs, especially since they’re easy for people to access, don’t require approval from Apple and Android app stores, and are designed to maximize the reliability and ease of use. use. However, there are also some limitations that should be considered. First, it’s much harder for iPhone users to save PWAs to their home screens, and Apple’s strict privacy protocols can make it difficult for web-only PWAs to work properly. With iPhone users accounting for 44.6% of all smartphone users in the United States, it’s important that retailers can provide an experience for everyone that encourages brand loyalty, instead of having people abandon the process out of frustration. .

Why Apps

This is where having a native app comes in handy. Well-designed, a native app can provide a fast, visually appealing experience and make use of smartphone features, such as the camera or GPS. Users can also save their personal and payment information on these apps without worrying that the app will erase them after a few days, as is possible with PWAs, thus making the shopping experience more efficient. Research also indicates that customers return to shopping apps three times more often than to mobile websites, showing that native apps are an effective tool for increasing customer loyalty.

Both PWAs and native mobile apps offer significant benefits to retailers, which is why they shouldn’t be limited to one or the other. Each has a specific role to play in improving the customer journey and encouraging customers to stay loyal. Given the challenges so many retailers face and the need to capitalize on e-commerce, it’s best to cover as many bases as possible.

By implementing both a PWA and a native app, retailers will be able to develop a comprehensive mobile strategy that takes into account how people use their smartphones and maximizes return.

FollowAnalytics provides mobile automation, analytics and optimization services to retailers and other businesses.

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