Progressive Web Apps – why Magento store owners need them in 2021

Over the last few years and especially in 2021, the ecommerce industry saw a lot of changes.
Progressive Web Apps in 2021

The ever-growing number of mobile users, higher customer expectations, and rapidly changing Google requirements create a challenging environment for merchants. Building a successful ecommerce business requires keeping up with the latest trends and using the latest technologies.

This article overviews the technology that is already changing how ecommerce operates – Progressive Web Applications (PWAs). You’ll learn why Magento 2 store owners need to consider implementing it in 2021 and how it will help you meet Google Core Vitals. 

Intro to Progressive Web Apps

Let’s start with the basics and learn what PWA is. If you are already familiar with the technology, feel free to jump to the next section telling about one of its main benefits.

The concept of Progressive Web Application was introduced in 2015 by the Google PWA team. Such applications combine the features of websites and applications and provide a native experience across platforms and browsers.

What is PWA

Magento PWA offers the same level of experience as native applications. Just like traditional apps, they can be added to the home screen of a device for fast access. The main advantage lies in cross-platform support. A single progressive web app can be used as a traditional website and can be installed on both Android and iOS devices. 

Such famous companies as AliExpress, Alibaba, Lancôme, and many others have already turned their websites into progressive web applications.

The PWA technology is getting more and more incorporated into the Magento 2 infrastructure. The company leaves no doubt that it considers PWA to be the future of ecommerce. Magento is actively investing in the development of Magento PWA Studio, a set of tools designed to help developers create Magento 2 PWA. In the near future, the company plans to create a separate section of its Magento marketplace for PWA modules.

Today is a great opportunity for merchants to start exploring this technology while it’s gaining traction to better prepare businesses for the challenges of the future. 

Growth of mobile users in ecommerce

The importance of mobile in ecommerce has been steadily increasing over the last few years. Next year, ecommerce sales are predicted to account for 72.9% of all ecommerce sales.

Are you ready to meet customers online?

Unfortunately for many merchants, mobile becomes the starting and the endpoint of the customer journey. While mobile generates 53% of the web ecommerce traffic, it provides only a 2,25% conversion rate. The average conversion rate on the desktop doubles these results.

Too long and complicated shopping experiences, lack of mobile optimization, and problems with the checkout are among the main reasons why shoppers don’t finish the purchase. To prosper in the mcommerce world, merchants need to get their stores ready to meet customers online and PWA can help you get there faster.

So, how can PWA help? 

Progressive web applications are device agnostic. On desktops, they act like traditional websites. On mobile, they provide a native-like experience. Thus, a PWA improves UX for mobile shoppers. Customers get the same level of user experience regardless of the device they are using. 

Offline mode is another superior advantage as compared to native eCommerce mobile apps or websites. By adding a PWA to the home screens of mobile devices, users can interact with your store at any time and even view content without an internet connection.

By implementing PWA in Magento, you can expect to get an x3 increase in conversion rate on average, an increase in average session duration, and a significant boost in website speed.

Google Core Vitals: new ranking factor by Google

During the ranking process, Google is paying close attention to mobile-friendliness, safe-browsing, HTTPS-security, and user experience. Magento PWA meets all these requirements.

Google Core Web Vitals

Starting May 2021, Core Web Vitals will be included in the page experience signals in addition to the existing ones. Core Web Vitals include three main criteria: 

  • First Input Delay (FID) – measures how long it takes for the first elements to appear on the web page.
  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – measures how long it takes for the largest content element (main content) to appear on the web page.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – measures the instability of content, i.e. sudden layout shifts after as the web page is loading.

Meeting these criteria won’t be easy, especially for online stores having problems with performance. However, Magento PWA can meet all the requirements with flying colors.

Implementation of PWA technology gives a huge boost for website speed. For example, George, one of the leading UK clothing brands, saw a whooping x3.8 average page load time increase. Infobae, one of Argentina’s first digital-only news outlets, could improve the performance score from 93 to 100 points measured by Lighthouse. The company leverages the technology to provide readers with a fast user experience on low networks.

Thus, progressive web applications help to achieve the needed website speed and meet the first two criteria of Google Core Vitals.

Thanks to device agnosticism, Magento PWAs provide a seamless user experience whether customers are browsing on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop. There are no shifts in layouts that Google might spot and penalize for content instability.

Even more, Google pushes PWAs within the ecosystem for a reason. Improved user experience across devices and speed boost does help to meet Core Web Vitals.

Available PWA Solutions

If you decide that PWA development is a great choice for your ecommerce business, you can follow a few possible ways.

PWA development from scratch

The development of a PWA from scratch allows you to create a solution tailored to all your business needs and requirements. However, the process is not a thing of one day. The implementation process will take a few months and require a thorough understanding of Magento and PWAs. In most cases, it’s impossible to create a PWA yourself since it requires deep technical knowledge and understanding of not only Magento but also of the new technology. 

Use of PWA extensions

You can find a number of Magento PWA extensions to use for your store. Such extensions are a fast solution for PWA development. Still, they don’t really add the PWA storefront to your ecommerce website and offer very limited capabilities, often lacking offline mode, notifications, speed boost, and other features and advantages.

Use of a PWA storefront

For merchants who want to provide a real PWA experience for their customers, using a ready-to-use PWA storefront is the best solution since it allows ecommerce businesses to save time and money on basic functionality development. It has been already done by professional Magento 2 PWA developers. Only you need to do is customize it to your business needs. 

GoMage PWA Storefront is an example of such a solution that is easy to install, maintain, and customize. The implementation of GoMage PWA Storefront can bring such results as an increase in traffic and conversion rate, decrease in bounce rate, higher revenue, and better preparation for Google Core Web Vitals.

GoMage PWA Storefront - Magento PWA

Magento 2 PWA: bottom line

With the growth of mcommerce, the need to be present in all web dimensions will become even more pressing. PWA is the technology designed to help merchants provide a smooth customer experience and higher speed across devices and operating systems. 

Google staying at the origins of this technology indicates that progressive web applications will only grow in importance. Even today PWAs help to get ready for Google Core Web Vitals requirements, which will come in force soon.

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