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Mar 13, 2019 | 3 minute read

Closing the mobile conversion gap with PWAs

written by Kristin Schepici

According to Mobify’s 2018 Q4 Mobile Commerce Insights Report, mobile overall, showed continued growth with purchases made between Black Friday and Christmas. Somewhat surprising from Mobify’s findings was that the most frequent traffic source for mobile was email. According to Forbes, “retailers sent 3.5 billion emails on Black Friday, and another 4.1 billion on Cyber Monday – significant increases over the 3 billion and 3.3 billion, respectively, sent in 2017.” 

Closing the gap

Although mobile is edging out other devices in terms of traffic and use, it is still possessing a challenge for retailers in terms of lower conversion rates when compared to desktop. As Mobify reports, before an ecommerce retailer can fully close the conversion rate gap, businesses need to investigate this compound metric further by looking at traffic AND transactions.

Even though transactions are increasing, if they are not increasing as quickly as traffic, the conversion rate goes down. [Transactions / Traffic = Conversion] This can be a bit misleading in terms of mobile commerce success. For this reason, Mobify notes that “the conversion rate on its own is not a good metric to evaluate your overall performance. Because it’s a compound metric, interpreting conversion rate requires taking the extra step of understanding the movement of the variables (traffic and transactions) that comprise it.”

A step towards fully closing this gap means looking at the customer-facing experience offered and the potential to improve. With the adoption of Progressive Web Apps (PWA), retailers can offer better, if not the best way to deliver improved, faster customer experiences. PWAs load similar to a regular web page, but offer additional native device functionality such as working offline, serving notifications, launching a camera, etc. The number one benefit of PWAs vs. non-PWA sites (like on desktop), is speed - as they significantly reduce the time it takes for a consumer to complete crucial tasks such as finding an item or completing the path to purchase. The faster a shopper is able to complete a purchase, the more likely they are to buy. Google research found that as page load time increases from one second to ten, the probability of bouncing increases 123%. PWAs offer an expedited experience over native apps, while offering all the same features. 

Debenhams, a British department store ventured into the world of PWAs and saw double-digit percentage point growth in mobile conversions. And, their “commuter browsing” turned into “commuter shopping.” 

Mobify notes the three approaches to delivering commerce PWAs: commerce-led, experience-led and API-led. However, when looking to implement a customer-first strategy, an API-led approach is really the way to go. 

The API-driven approach to PWAs 

To define the API-driven approach to delivering commerce PWAs, these are in fact when ecommerce features/services are exposed through APIs and consumed through a front-end which has the ability to invoke those APIs to retrieve and interact with whatever data is required for the ecommerce flows exposed by that API. 

There are many benefits to implementing this methodology. Control of the ecommerce back-end through an API creates a number of services that are no longer limited by the front-end consuming them. The same API which drives a front-end touchpoint for a PWA storefront can be used for additional touchpoints such as IoT touchpoints, POS machines and customer interactive chatbots. This additionally becomes a great benefit to the PWA storefront as this PWA may live independently of the ecommerce back-end services and be built around consuming these back-end services without any concerns of impacting behavior as additional APIs are exposed. It becomes the sole decision of the front-end PWA implementation to consume additional services which have been exposed by the API in the future case, and thus simplifies adoption of those services. 

Best practices to accomplishing this may vary by organization and business case. Some general cases include usages of REST or Graph QL APIs to expose ecommerce business logic in a meaningful representation, while some continue to make use of legacy technologies such as SOAP.