According to the latest Shopify report, one of the five global ecommerce trends in 2021 is a record online competition to win the customer. You may think it is nothing new as online brands have always competed for the customer. The past year of the pandemic, however, has taken ecommerce sales to an all-time high, thus fuelling competition and driving up customer acquisition costs. Customer experience is the top differentiator in this online race and one thing you can do to capitalize on the eCommerce boom is to optimise for mobile and convert your site to a progressive web app.
What is a PWA?
PWAs or progressive web apps are mobile websites that function like standalone apps. They are fast – a key asset in the times when 53% of users abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load! They are installable – there is no need for a native app as a PWA lives on the user’s home screen and can even send push notifications. They load instantly, regardless of the quality of internet connection and, what is more, are highly customisable. More and more brands are switching to PWAs for their online stores, among others are Starbucks, George, Uber or Alibaba.
Benefits of PWAs for the users include:
- Short loading time
- Good performance in poor network conditions
- Small size
- App-like features (add to home screen, offline mode, push notifications)
- Avoid app aggregators (Google Play, App Store, etc.)
- Instant updates
Capability, reliability and installability of PWAs transform them into an experience that feels like a platform-specific application. A site powered by PWA is a truly mobile-friendly experience that enables your customers to stay engaged with your store.
PWA for Shopify Plus stores
Shopify Plus, as a platform with headless commerce approach, provides a smooth transition of your store to a PWA. If you are reading this article, you are probably familiar with the term, ‘headless commerce’. Headless architecture separates your front-end design from your back-end infrastructure, thus giving you a level of extreme flexibility on the front end. Thanks to the fact that each end is then powered by different technologies and interconnected via a series of APIs, each system is fully optimised without compromising on the exchange of data between platforms.
Benefits of headless commerce include:
- Integration – building custom enterprise architecture with APIs enables deep integration with tools or services of choice (like a PWA or a separate content management system)
- Flexibility – by separating the back end from the front end, you have full ownership and control of the front-end experience and the tech stack used for building it
- Omnichannel – this flexibility allows you to extend shopping into any customer experience, on any device or platform.
So if accelerating your site’s performance with PWA is one of your priorities, then headless is the route to take. Shopify Plus will make this transition easier and faster.
Which PWA to choose?
Started in 2017 by a group of Divante’s developers looking for a faster, easier and more effective solution, Vue Storefront is today the fastest-growing open-source eCommerce project with a growing community. Vue Storefront is a standalone PWA storefront, based on Vue.js, the most modern JS framework, that allows merchants to build super-fast eCommerce websites and apps without changing the backend platform. Vue Storefront is platform agnostic – which means it can be connected to virtually any eCommerce CMS (Shopify Plus, Magento, Pimcore, Woocommerce and more).
Key benefits of Vue Storefront:
- Focus on performance
- Mobile-first approach
- Cutting-edge tech
- No limitations in theming and customization
- Open Source with MIT license
- Exciting developer experience
- Out-of-the-box Server Side Rendering (for SEO)
- Offline mode
What’s more, Vue Storefront PWA can be enriched with functionalities like PayPal Services, Voice Commerce or Chatbot Assistant. Vue Storefront has been trusted by over 250 retailers and B2C brands, with Tally Weijl, Kubota and Zadig & Voltaire among others, which decided to implement it in their eCommerce platforms.
As mentioned, Vue Storefront can be connected with any backend platform via a connector. The connector will help develop the PWA frontend using pwa shopify plus eCommerce. The store administrators can manage the catalogue data, customers, orders, and CMS pages from the Shopify backend. The connection between Shopify Plus and Vue Storefront is established using Shopify’s Storefront API. The data format in Vue Storefront API stays the same for every platform, which means regardless what eCommerce backend is used, your frontend will remain untouched.
PWA – why is it worth investing in?
In a world where mobile eCommerce experience has taken priority and customer expectations are higher than ever, brands must optimise for mobile to deliver long-term business success. Here is why your business should consider investing in a PWA:
- Increased customer engagement – a PWA store boosts UX thanks to native app-like experience and re-engages with users through web push notifications; this leads to a rise in conversions and reduction in bounce rate;
- Better customer reach – because the web has 3x more reach than native apps, PWAs, which are downloaded directly from the internet (being SEO discoverable), can decrease the cost of user acquisition;
- Quick go to market – front-end work is done independently from back-end, thus reducing development and time to market;
- Cost-effective and less time-consuming – PWAs use web technologies and work across different OS systems, eliminating the time and knowledge spent on creating native apps for different OS systems. According to research, a business can save up to 75% off the costs of designing, developing and maintaining a native app;
- Works on any platform – PWAs are cross-platform, which means that separate versions for Android and iOS are not required.
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