Improving Mobile Conversion with PWAs

Mobile ecommerce is growing year on year. eMarketer found that last year in the UK mobile commerce was responsible for at least 1/3 of total retail sales, and this number seems to only be growing.

When we think about our own lives, this probably makes a lot of sense – it is much more convenient to shop on our phones, anytime we need to. You can even move from mobile apps onto retailers’ sites with experiences such as Instagram Shopping.

While the mobile experience that retailers provide is better than it has ever been, there is still big room for improvement. The mobile experience can still be slow or frustrating for a lot of customers.

How fast can mobile customers really see a page?

Google’s research has found that 53% of visitors abandoned a mobile site if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. This is a concerning statistic, and just shows how significant speed is for mobile customers. And let’s be frank: 4G connections on mobile devices are not the norm, especially when travelling or commuting.

To get a genuine mobile shopping experience, we’ve tested and compared some average Magento sites while using a more real connection speed. We’ve done the tests on a 3G connection (usually worst case for a smart device considered connected:

  • it took 4.5+ seconds for the first piece of content to show on the page
  • and 15+ seconds for the site to be usable.

Both of these numbers are well over Google’s recommended times of 5 seconds. And keep this in mind:

40% of visitors have turned to a competitor’s site for a better mobile experience.

Google

Now let’s talk about the future

Retailers, especially the larger ones, have looked at mobile native apps as a possible solution for frustrating mobile experiences. These really do help in improving the mobile experience for customers, and work well on slower or limited connectivity. However, there are high build and overhead costs to native apps (think about iPhone, Android, Windows, etc.), far higher than standard websites. In addition to costs, it’s hard to convince users to download mobile apps, or to keep them on their device. Moreover, if a customer is making very irregular on-site purchases, the app will use precious storage space.

Progressive Web Apps, aka PWAs

Apps can work very well, but usually for the large, very well known, frequented brands such as Amazon, ASOS or John Lewis. These are some examples of apps done well. In addition, a long time to market and the financial expense can very quickly outweigh other benefits. And it can take a long time to recoup the build and overhead costs.

This is where Progressive Web Apps come in — they hope to bring apps and websites closer to each other by bridging this gap. As PWAs are developing, more and more of the features we expect from apps are being brought to websites.

Our mobile technology is advancing enough that functionality such as offline support, faster interactivity, adding to a user’s home screen, and push notifications have all become possible. But without straying away from what customers are already used to from retailer’s websites.

How do PWAs Work?

If you didn’t know already, PWAs are a great and an already proven way to increase conversion rate for mobile customers.

When you visit a website, you don’t need to download the PWA or sign up to a new system. All you need to do is navigate through the site as you would usually do.

PWAs are not alien to what you and your customers already know; they are a set of technologies that we can put together to make our websites work more like apps. In fact, a customer would only be able to tell if they are using a PWA when the site loads really fast and keeps working when the internet drops for a short period of time.

Due to their progressive nature, PWAs don’t alienate users with older devices that won’t support functionality in the PWA. They will still be able to use any feature that a website uses – allowing a merchant to expand the audience, not reduce its size.

Loved by Magento & Google

Magento themselves and the community are working very hard to research and develop the technologies we need for PWAs to work well. Each day is creating fuller and stronger PWAs.

Adobe’s acquisition of Magento has not slowed down development either – in fact it’s quite the opposite, as was demonstrated at MagentoLive Europe in Barcelona.

In addition, Google loves PWAs, and have pushed time, money and resources into helping create more and more PWA sites. As we know, whatever Google pushes is likely to become future technologies we all use. Well, most of the time (looking at you, Google+)…

Retailers have already started adopting and seeing benefits from PWAs. For example, Debenhams recently switched their site to a PWA and saw boosts of 40% increase in mobile revenue and 20% increase in conversions.

Try it out for yourself to see the speed improvements – it’s a much smoother experience for site visitors. This really helps a customer to find the product they want and make the purchase. At the end of the day a PWA makes a customer’s life easier, and a purchase smoother – always the best way to increase conversion rates.

LogicSpot and PWAs

At LogicSpot we are helping to drive forward this technology with our own R&D – LogicSpot:CREATE, attending international conferences and building our own PWAs in house. To be honest, we’ve noticed some huge speed improvements already… have been able to get the site loaded and fully interactive in 4 seconds on a slow, 3G connection – which is well inside Google’s speed recommendations.

As the technology develops more, we’ll be watching closely and continue building PWAs that can solve the most frustrating problems found by customers on mobile. The more we can reduce the friction experienced by customers when shopping online, the more rewarding will their journey be for everyone.