Is PWA the solution for endless aisle’s weaknesses in retail?

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By using the “endless aisle” concept, retailers are able to combine their online and offline capabilities in order to generate great results for their business. Hopes of finding the holy grail of omnichannel in this way are high, but this concept can also be costly and time-consuming for companies. What if PWA technology is an excellent alternative to that?


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A story of shoe retailers and finding endless aisle

In the book ‘4 Disciplines of Execution’ (which, by the way, became extremely popular recently in Divante) there is a story which shows how to identify behaviors that lead to change in an organisation and how to use them to achieve business results.

It tells of managers of a chain of shoe stores who wanted to find out which lead measures they should choose in order to achieve their Wildly Important Goal, focused on revenue growth. During the investigation, they identified one sales representative who was exceptionally effective: her results were remarkably higher than those of other employees. By observing her, managers discovered that, each time she faced a new customer and their request, she never stopped at the one pair of boots they wanted but presented them with many other options, thus leading to up- and cross-selling. This individual behavior was changed into the company’s selling pattern, generating great results.


Merging online and offline shopping experiences at stores (source).

Apart from providing a great lesson on research, analysis and effective management, this story also shows the impact a wide choice and tailored shopping experience can have on sales and revenue. It’s not a surprise then, that retailers all over the world are striving to find a way to present their clients with the most comprehensible offer, dealing at the same time with limited offline store space.

The solution is already here, and it’s called endless aisle, often perceived as the holy grail of omnichannel commerce, capable of bringing even 10% more overall revenue to the company.

Pros and cons of the ‘endless aisle’ concept

Endless aisle enables retailers to enhance their offline offer with their online inventory (or the inventory of third parties, when dropshipping is included), thus providing customers with a wider choice, better experience and lowering the risk of lost sales.

The traditional (if one can say so) approach to the subject includes implementing kiosks or tablets for the use of customers and/or staff. Although providing lots of possibilities, one can imagine what costs it generates in terms of purchase, maintenance and staff training, especially when a retailer has a large number of brick-and-mortar premises. What’s more, it’s hard to use this solution when our products are distributed by other retailers. Therefore, it’s often used as an element of concept stores, available only in a limited number of locations.

PWA as an alternative to the “endless aisle” concept

Fortunately, one can now achieve the same results without investing in costly new devices and interfaces, thanks to the rapidly developing concept of progressive web apps.

PWAs may serve as an endless aisle which each customer and staff member can carry along all the time. What’s more, by using its possibilities, retailers can add personalization and contextuality to the presented offer. As the app has access to a customer’s purchase history and behaviours, it can:

  • present personalized push notifications
  • target a user when approaching the store with exclusive offers, even limited in time and space
  • provide tailored content, offers and other types of triggers based on their personal history, both online and offline

Thanks to all this, the in-store shopper experience becomes much more personalized and, using the mobile-first approach achieved with PWA technology, it becomes even more flexible and exciting for both staff and customers.

Of course, both approaches can be merged, as a PWA is basically a storefront that can be displayed on every device, including in-store kiosks/tablets. The point is, that by adding a progressive web app to the ecosystem, one can leverage existing possibilities to create a truly omnichannel experience for their customers.


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One important note at the end: whether we decide on a PWA or not, the endless aisle has to be a part of a broader omnichannel strategy and cannot be done without proper inventory and order management systems. These solutions, such as Magento Order Management, allow for giving shoppers multiple fulfillment options, but what’s more, keep up-to-date, always accurate data on stocks across all physical touchpoints such as warehouses, stores and third party inventory. Without that, endless aisle could bring more loss than profit to your organization.

See how you can test out PWA in the proof of concept.

Published April 18, 2019