A progressive web application (PWA) is an app that’s built using web platform technologies, but that provides a user experience like a platform-specific app.
— In other words, it’s something that leverages benefits of websites and native apps in one technology.
Like a website, a PWA can run on multiple platforms and devices from a single codebase
Like a platform-specific app, it can be installed on the device, can operate in the background, and can integrate with the device and with other installed apps.
PWA is based on a headless approach. This concept is about separating the frontend from the backend so they communicate via an API. The website then becomes more agile to the introduced changes. A PWA is thus more adaptable as the frontend and backend are less dependent on one another.
Here is a scheme of PWA:
Currently, web development is dynamically moving towards PWA, and ecommerce is certainly no exception.
A great example of ecommerce case is Magento PWA. It has a lot of benefits that PWA provides and many solutions with great out-of-box functionality.
PWA uses a variety of performance optimization strategies to provide a responsive experience or load content fast, even on slow networks.
PWA offers a seamless browsing experience, similar to a native applications.
Works on various devices
It is compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
PWA caches content to ensure that some content can be served when a user is offline.
PWAs consume less storage space compared to native app. It makes them a more convenient option for users who visit the store.
You can send them to remind clients about an abandoned cart, notify them about hot deals, or introduce new collections.
Each page has a unique URL that can be shared with other apps or social media.
What Challenges Might You Face with Magento PWA?
More development efforts
It’s a hard and time-consuming development, even though you need one solution and a team for all operational systems. It may require as much effort as a native app.
Access to hardware features
Native apps integrate with a particular software environment. PWA has several limitations with access to camera, contact list, calendar, and others. How much access they have depends on the operation system.
Push notifications on iOS
Push notifications work in all browsers and are usable on Android. But have troubles with native iOS messages.
Technological advancements will mitigate this issue with time, but you should consider it for now.
Magento PWA Solutions
There are three market leaders of Magento PWA solutions: Magento PWA Studio, Scandi PWA and Vue Storefront.
Magento PWA Studio
An official Magento toolkit, offering pre-made components and front-end architecture.
This is a set of developer tools and libraries that let you develop, deploy, and maintain a PWA storefront on top of an Adobe Commerce or Magento Open Source backend. It uses modern tools and libraries to create a build system and framework that adheres to the principles of extensibility.
— One of the PWA Studio benefits is that it’s not monolithic. You can take just part of the code instead of the whole package.
The PWA Studio comes with a configured application builder and setup service workers. It also has numerous app elements that you can employ as they are or customize to your needs. Plus, Magento does routing and caching for you.
PWA Studio provides Venia storefront. Venia is a proof-of-concept storefront designed to highlight many features of PWA Studio. As per Magento, anyone can start using Venia storefront, as well as the visual components, as a starting reference point for customizing their own PWA storefront project.
Scandi PWA is the first open-source ready-to-use PWA Magento 2 theme. It’s not a storefront, but a theme, which is easier to install and apply to the store. The toolkit provides different functionality and components for developers to use and customize. Scandi PWA can be placed on top of any Magento 2.3 or newer project.
Scandi PWA doesn’t require infrastructure changes. It makes the theme developer-friendly, allowing for fast PWA deployment with all the benefits.
The theme uses GraphQL as an API to deliver data from the backend and send requests from the frontend. The frontend works on ReactJS.
Vue Storefront is essentially a Nuxt.js project with some plugins and modules preinstalled, as well as a ready-to-use ecommerce theme. Nuxt.js handles most of the front-end work and Server Side Rendering, while Vue Storefront adds the ecommerce specific bits and integrations to various platforms.
Yeah, it’s not a Magento specific solution, but it’s an open-source framework for various ecommerce platforms. The theme may lack documentation complicating development and maintenance. It also doesn’t provide any information on how it will behave after the Magento update.
How Magento PWA Improves the Magento Store
Magento PWA delivers various benefits, including an app-like experience, fast loading times, and cross-device compatibility.
All these items have a huge impact on ecommerce metrics, such as:
- bounce rate
- session duration
- pages visited per session
- cart abandonment
For example, AliExpress increases conversion rate for new users by 104% with new Progressive Web App.
- 104% for new users across all browsers; 82% increase in iOS conversion rate
- 2X more pages visited per session per user across all browsers
- 74% increase in time spent per session across all browsers
So, if you want to make your Magento store more efficient from ecommerce perspective you need to investigate Magento PWA more closely and choose a solution that fits your needs.