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Costs and solutions of PWAs in eCommerce
Creating progressive web apps doesn't require following a specific implementation path. The main goal of that approach is to push developers to think of users and not technology. But since PWA technology gained popularity, solutions that make it easier to turn a site into a "progressive" one began to appear. Today, there are a variety of frameworks available, but choosing the right one can be difficult.
Costs and ROI of building a PWA
Social media providers implemented PWAs early on, but then eCommerce followed. Companies like Trivago or AliExpress intended to shorten their loading times in the name of increasing conversion rates as well as user engagement.
Now, after Google announced mobile-first indexing and with Microsoft and Apple's support of progressive web apps, more and more companies are turning toward this approach. They’re counting on PWAs being a way to narrow the massive discrepancy between time spent on mobile devices and the mobile conversion rate since the mobile conversion gap is around 40%.
The stakes are high. No wonder that to fill this gap, retailers try to improve the overall speed of their webpage, provide consistent UX on all touchpoints, and take full advantage of smartphone features. Many of these aspects can be easily improved with progressive web apps, which also recently became more accessible and help achieve an impressive ROI.
PWA Stats is an inspiring aggregator of success stories resulting from PWA implementations. For instance, Kubota nearly tripled their daily visits, Davialet doubled their conversions, and Thomas Kent reduced their bounce rate by an impressive 57%.
In the beginning, in 2015, companies had to build a PWA from scratch. It was still less expensive than creating native mobile apps for every OS but came with costs between $400,000 and $1 million. Now, since progressive web apps are getting more popular, it’s no longer the only way. Companies can shorten the time and reduce costs of implementation by using ready-to-go solutions. This can be at least 75% cheaper than building a PWA independently, and it’s faster, usually taking between two and three months.
However, the economic aspects aren’t the most important. PWA implementation can bring unexpected design challenges and requires a specific skill set from both developers and designers. They have to be experienced in building complex apps and know how to "translate" the language of native apps to web apps as well. Not to mention that there are also some issues, such as security, payment integrations, push notifications, and service workers, that need to be addressed. If there isn’t a team of experienced front-end developers and UX designers in the company, building a progressive web app can be challenging.
Using existing, ready-to-use solutions, especially for smaller companies, can be easier than developing a PWA by themselves.
Solutions designed for PWAs in eCommerce
The Magento team released Magento PWA Studio in April 2018. Unlike the other solutions listed here, it’s a toolbox for building online stores with app-like experiences rather than a ready-to-use framework.
The suite, however, delivers everything crucial to developing a fast and simple front end, including content personalization and adding local preferences, themes, and an architecture based on modularized components. Additionally, it allows developers to build and manage all channels via one code base, one deployment, and an app.
Mobify (for Salesforce)
Mobify is non-standard because it offers a platform to build and manage the PWA front end as a service. Its key functionality is, however, quite similar and relies on separating the front end from the back end, which makes Mobify also suitable for businesses moving to headless architecture.
SAP composable storefront (Spartacus)
The main goal of composable storefront is to provide SAP developers with a headless front end that could be easily upgraded with each new release. It will allow front-end developers to adapt the front end and optimize conversion while the back-end developers will be able to focus on business logic, security, stability, and scalability by leveraging scalable cloud technologies.
Vue Storefront, an open-source project sparked by the Divante team, is a standalone PWA storefront for eCommerce. It’s able to connect via API with any eCommerce back end, like commercetools, Magento, Prestashop, Shopware, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc. It’s considered one of the most significant PWA frameworks that delivers front ends for stores.
Issued by Flagbit in 2018, it's aimed at enterprise customers and big, scalable teams.
Deity Falcon is a many-sided, platform-agnostic, standalone PWA solution suitable for webshops, blogs, and bigger platforms.
This is a ready-to-use storefront solution made in France. This solution offers microservices architecture and a front end with React and GraphQL.
This solution was developed by the Scandiweb agency in 2018 and focuses on providing a PWA for stores based on Magento.