A Proof of Concept for PWA in Special’s fashion store

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Aleksandra Kwiecień

Marketing and content manager. Passionate about new technologies that make our everyday life easier, and people who create them. Leader of the eCommerce Trends 2020 report, editor of Divante blog (2018-2020), and reports for eCommerce experts, incl. The New Architecture and PWA Book | LinkedIn

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Meet Special – the Italian fashion retailer. They wanted to enchant their customers with a unique user experience while shopping online. In just a couple weeks, they came up with a proof of concept for the Progressive Web App Development of their online store. Here’s Special’s story.

Special's retail store in Milano

Special’s store in Milan (source: Special)

Special is a retail store located in Milan, northern Italy. The store specializes in streetwear shoes and accessories of the best international brands. To their customers, they offer exclusive products, often impossible to find in any other shop in Italy. Since 2010, they have offered their products to online customers via the Magento 1 platform. Now, they have decided to move to Magento2 and test the Vue storefront.

Selling in a progressive web app

Progressive web apps are quite new on the market, but they have already proved their advantages. Online shops built as PWAs are much faster, safe on the front end, and work offline.

These benefits encouraged Special to invest in progressive web apps. Additionally, it turned out this solution is cheaper than building separate native apps. Learn more in The Beginner’s Guide to PWA.


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Solutions selection for Special’s store

Special has only a simple and size configurable product catalog. It consists of 10,308 items in total. The Bitbull team (official partner of VueStorefront), started to work on the platform around 2 months ago. Their goal was to restyle and to replatform the online store. They worked for 2-3 days a week, having only 2 people at the time. Now, they are about to end their work. How did they achieve that?

The perfect match: Magento 2 & Vue Storefront

The idea was to go live with a minimum set of functionalities, and then improve. They built the store upon the Magento 2 platform on the backend, and connected it to a customizable front-end for progressive web apps – Vue Storefront.

“Anyone who worked with me on the project told me that Vue Storefront is very easy to learn and super fun ;)” – Irene Iaccio, BitBull

Vue Storefront implementation

The store’s checkout and the CMS blocks were left on Magento 2. There is just a small component that takes, via a GET call, the HTML of the blocks from the Magento platform and puts them in Vue Storefront.

“Leveraging Vue Storefront for the development of the project frontend, we’ve seen unprecent development speed. In Vue Storefront, we have found the missing piece that let us apply Lean principles on this eCommerce project. I’m sure that even big enterprise projects will truly benefit from this approach and will be able to direct our efforts towards business goals, not the tools to achieve them.” – Gennaro Vietri – CTO of Bitbull

During the development of Vue Storefront, a fork was implemented. It is used to stay up-to-date with the new developments from the community. Every week Special’s store is synchronized with the official repo, so as to always have the latest version available. After check out, a tag is added, and a new version is released.

New functionalities for Special

In the near future, Special’s store will be enriched by additional functionalities. What’s next up? Functionalities for timed sales of limited items, with a countdown, and a product reservation system.

The Proof of Concept stage of Special’s store is going to finish successfully. The whole development process took less than 20 working days. Now, the company will have to decide on the next steps required to bring the project to production.

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By leveraging the Proof of Concept idea in the early phase of development, owners are able to take this decision based on a working progressive web app.

Update: Presented Proof of Concept has been approved by Special’s Milano. The PWA for Special Milano is live.

Published May 23, 2018