Progressive Web Apps (PWA): Questions for Merchants Answered

It’s a new year. And very, very early still. But if early indications are to believed, 2019 is shaping up to be The Year of the PWA. And for many good reasons.

Progressive Web Apps (PWA): Questions for Merchants Answered - featured image
If you’re at all familiar with the virtues of browser-based, app-like PWAs (short for Progressive Web Apps), you’ll understand at least a few of those reasons.
Either way, let’s take a closer look at the many benefits of utilizing PWAs in 2019 – and well into the future.

Why PWAs? What are PWAs?

A PWA is a lot of things. And it offers both companies and their consumers a lot of benefits. Since a PWA is essentially a website that models the features, user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) of a native application (or app), it looks like an app, complete with things like push buttons and notifications. But it operates entirely from a user’s browser, and is every bit as effective on a desktop or laptop computer as it is on a mobile device or smartphone.
PWAs also tend to be easier (often much easier) to build than native apps. They don’t rely on any kind of complicated coding, can be built using the same code as your site, and work in an identical manner across both iOS-powered and Android-driven smartphones.
And that’s just the technical and structural advantages of PWAs. By optimizing your site for mobile usage and making it faster and easier for your customers to navigate the online purchase path, you help streamline their online purchase journey – thereby increasing conversions and boosting online sales and revenue.
In addition to presenting a smoother, faster, more reliable and more engaging online experience, PWAs can provide your mobile customers the benefit of push notifications, updates and alerts. They can also guard against the very real problem of “app fatigue” among American mobile consumers. Many of us have had enough of this app, that app and the other app by now. PWAs are a smart answer to this mounting problem.

Magento Launches PWA Studio. Will You Come Onboard?

New York City is synonymous with New Year’s Eve celebrations. And a few weeks after the Big Ball dropped in the Big Apple to usher in the start of 2019, influential software company (and Magento e-commerce solution platform owner) Adobe came to the National Retail Federation Conference in New York City, eager to announce some new marketing capabilities. Chief among those shiny new capabilities was Adobe/Magento’s first-ever edition of PWA Studio.
The new PWA Studio for Adobe’s e-commerce platform (and our solution platform of choice at Imagination Media) known as Magento is designed for use by developers, yet it also represents Adobe’s first large-scale attempt to move online stores into the realm of web-based apps. It is also intended primarily to create PWAs for mobile devices, but could be used to develop PWAs for desktop and laptop use. Adobe also claims Magento is the first e-commerce platform to offer PWA-building functionality. Of course, it will always remain compatible with the latest and greatest Magento product release and architectural changes, which is another fine benefit.

Magento is Making PWAs Here to Stay. So Should You.

Writing in a blog post, Magento Senior Director of Strategy Peter Sheldon even went as far as declaring PWAs “a seismic advancement in the evolution of the mobile web, similar in magnitude to the transition that happened five years ago from conventional desktop sites to responsive web design.
”Adobe and Magento also appear to be endorsing the idea that PWAs can replace responsive mobile sites for retailers – and maybe even eliminate the need for e-commerce mobile apps. If PWAs were to replace mobile apps and maybe even retailers’ online stores, marketers’ need to create mobile apps and/or mobile sites could also disappear.
So maybe “seismic advancement” isn’t just some dramatic marketing speak by a high-level Magento executive. Maybe it sounds a lot like…accurate forecasting of the soon-to-arrive future of the mobile web – and, by extension, mobile commerce (or m-commerce).

PWAs: Not Just for Mobile

While the main emphasis on the many benefits of PWA solutions lies in the mobile space, browsers are already adding support for desktop PWAs, with many developers focused intently on desktop PWA implementation. The many performance benefits PWAs deliver can also equally impact (and improve) desktop interfaces as much as mobile.
In other words, your website visitors and online store customers will see serious performance improvements if you implement PWAs – regardless of what device they use to access your site.

What Will PWAs Cost Me? Are They Difficult to Implement?

Our developers can use the core, backend features of Magento 2 with PWAs – using the toolbox provided by Magento’s PWA Studio, or existing frameworks such as Deity or Vue Storefront. Whatever the chosen approach, JavaScript is heavily implemented to achieve the needed workflows. When we create PWAs for you and your customers to enjoy, the entire frontend experience is essentially re-done – but it doesn’t take too long or cost you too much.
Of course, the actual cost of development to you will depend on a variety of factors – just as with any other e-commerce project. Our expert team of developers, solution architects and marketing professionals can guide you towards a custom-created PWA solution that works best for you and your unique business and e-commerce needs.

Where Can I Start?

When you make the decision to implement PWAs, you’ll need the assistance and expertise of developers who know their way around not only PWAs, but Magento as well. Here at Imagination Media, we’re intimately familiar with both.
We offer a wide range of ever-expanding e-commerce and m-commerce development services and solutions. As an official licensed Magento Solution Partner, we’ve been creating custom solutions on the Magento and Magento 2 platforms for several years now.
Contact us today to learn how we can help YOU make 2019 the Year of the PWA!
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