India’s biggest festive season is here, it starts with Dussehra, celebrating exiled prince Rama slaying the demon king Ravana and ends with Diwali to mark his homecoming. While the festivals still carry the same glamour and devotion, nowadays people rejoice the season more for the return of Amazon Great Indian Sale and Flipkart Big Billion Days. Every season, ecommerce majors and minors beat their own old numbers with humongous growth figures.
While discounts are raining on ecommerce websites, mobile apps are actually facing a downpour. Why are mobile users given special treatment by e-retailers? One can argue that apps provide a personalised and seamless experience, customised for small screens and help ecommerce players earn customer loyalty and re-engagement.
Mobile apps of ecommerce giants are usually installed on the smartphones of most of the shoppers.
But smaller players spend a bomb on advertising offers, still, customers leave the instant they are asked to download yet another app. In the end, all the money that has been spent on marketing the offers and discounts go straight down the drain as customer loved the product but doesn’t want another app burning their smartphone space.
How Flipkart Turned The Web App Game Around
However, no one can deny the fact that people love the shopping experience on mobile apps. So, is there a way of getting an app-like experience without installing the app. Yes, there’s a solution and Google has been backing it since last year, Progressive Web Apps (PWA.)
One of the most popular Indian ecommerce heavyweights, Flipkart has already achieved 70% increase in conversions through PWA. But that’s not it. Flipkart has got more amazing stats for you. Customers are spending 3x more time on progressive web apps powered mobile site and engagement has increased by over 40% compared to their old site.
What Are Progressive Web Apps?
A PWA has tapped into the goodness of App Shell Architecture, Web Manifest, and Service Workers to make websites feel more like native mobile apps.
In a nutshell, it’s a website cloaking as a mobile app, so you get a mobile app experience that doesn’t have to be downloaded or installed from app stores, but is still discoverable by the search engine. Plus, it has all the features that you have always loved in your mobile apps.
On the first visit, PWA opens in the browser tab like a mobile responsive site with a subtle prompt to add a shortcut to your home screen. But the combination of service workers and web manifests cast its magic from your second visit. The web app completely blends into the phone environment when launched from the home screen and feels fluidly like an app with features such as fullscreen and offline mode.
Web Manifest helps the web app to remember useful metadata such as name, icon, launch and configuration, to give users a native app-like experience. It also allows the app to be launched in fullscreen mode without a URL bar and gives complete control over the screen orientation. As web apps are built on the Application Shell Model, the icons, color schemes, navigation, and interaction are exactly app like.
Engagement, Re-engagement, Even Offline Engagement
Service Workers help in handling push notifications and for synchronising background data. It also makes web apps connectivity-independent so that a PWA loads faster even on slow networks. It can also have a splash screen to hide the slow loading of the home screen, just like the native apps.
TLS is mandatory with service workers and prevents snooping and tampering of content, so PWAs are much safer. Now, not only will the home screen install icon will open a web app in fullscreen mode in the browser, but re-engagement has improved with push notifications, alerts, and reminders.
They Are Discoverable And Linkable
Native mobile apps are not good enough when it comes to being discoverable by search engines. Unless apps are installed on your smartphone, the links will redirect you to the Google Play Store.
PWAs are tweaked to look and behave like apps, but are still linkable that can be promoted just like websites. They are discoverable by search engines and can be optimised just like a website URL.
Unlike mobile apps where content can be changed via updates or bug releases, web apps always carry the latest content.
Why Do Startups Need It?
Flipkart Lite is a great example of how a PWA can turn the fortunes of ecommerce websites.
60% of Flipkart’s progressive web apps come from the homescreen icon and it is said to have delivered high-quality visits with 70% conversion rate. Flipkart is part of the big league, whereas PWAs make more sense for startups who are just embarking their journey in the online shopping arena.
These startups somehow manage to attract the customers by spending their funds in catchy advertising and by rolling out eye-popping discounts. But all their efforts fail when customers drop out when asked to download a new app.
Progressive web apps have high-quality features such as push notifications, offline access, add-to-home screen, fast page load, which are ideal for boosting engagement in shopping websites.
Wrapping It Up
This is the best time for mobile web and a combination of AMP, service workers, and application shell architecture can help you replicate the much-loved mobile app shopping experience on the web. Flipkart has successfully done that in the past and ecommerce startups can also make shopping more fun and enjoyable on mobile.