The eCommerce industry has gone through a sea change in the last two decades of the 21st century.
Amazon and Walmart are now racing to become the largest retail giant in the world in a market that integrates offline and online options. Meanwhile, more merchants are recognizing the potential of this platform and are joining the platform. According to Statista, eCommerce retail sales are expected to comprise 21.8% of all retail sales worldwide by 2024.
As technology is evolving, people are not only shopping through their web browsers but are also heading to smartphone and tablet applications. Sales remain split between the mobile web and apps, but consumers are becoming ever-more comfortable with the idea of using their mobile phones for shopping.
With such landmark innovations, nothing can curb the growth of the eCommerce industry. But there are new concepts coming up with the potential to disrupt this industry as we know of it. Headless commerce, along with Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), seem to be coming together in a powerful partnership.
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To understand this emerging wave, let’s go on to learn more about the whats and whys.
What Is PWA?
Put simply, Progressive Web Apps or PWAs blend the benefits and experience of mobile applications with the versatility and discoverability of web-based applications.
PWAs allowed retailers to create a mobile website that is discoverable by Google’s search engine results page (SERPs), which can also be added to the home screen of the users’ smartphone or tablet.
This technology helps the app act like one of the native applications and is universal as the developer needs not create different versions for various operating systems like Android and iOS.
By utilizing a headless architecture, PWAs have now developed to present numerous advantages, ushering in a new era for eCommerce.
What Is Headless Commerce?
In headless commerce, the front-end presentation of the website is decoupled from its back-end interface. The backend of the website manages all its content, media, features, and functionalities. Through this decoupling, website administrators and developers can easily make changes to the features and functionalities, without hindering the user experience through front-end presentation. Alternately, they can tweak the look and feel and customer experience at the front end without having to make massive changes at the backend.
In simple words, the head is a theme or a template, which when removed, leaves only the back-end with all its content, creating a headless structure.
What Can Headless Commerce And PWA Do Together?
According to a JAXenter survey, 46% of their developer audience believes that PWAs are the future, leaving 14% as optimistic about native applications. Several large companies like Forbes, Amazon-Flipkart, and Alibaba have already started using PWAs for their business.
The main reason behind this shift is that headless PWAs offer huge benefits to the company by redefining the user experience, providing a faster interaction.
Some of the major advantages of combining headless commerce with PWAs are:
Since the front-end and back-end are detached in a headless PWA, the developer can continuously update the content, launch sales, personalize the banners, and maintain check-out flows without disrupting any user’s shopping experience.
This is a huge advantage over native applications or websites that require prior updates or the changes can be made during the website’s lowest traffic periods. Such alterations can also hamper the user experience greatly.
A website’s speed of presentation increases because PWAs use device-level caching, minimizing the total data required to respond to any request. On the other hand, a headless architecture enables the merchants to generate a data cache, which further allows the sellers to load content faster than on other mobile applications or web browsers.
For instance, when Alibaba launched its PWA, the retail site saw a 76% increase in conversions over what used to be the case with browsers. Even its sister website, AliExpress saw a whopping rise of 104% in conversion rates after launching the PWA. The new site of Forbes grounded in PWA technology has a loading time of 0.8 seconds, leading to a 43% increase in sessions and a great 100% increase in engagement.
Better Market Reach
As briefly mentioned earlier, PWAs behave like native applications but they have a presence on Google and other similar search engines as well.
A significant study by Google shows that 53% of smartphone users do not have their favorite brand’s apps installed on their phones. 42% don’t even consider installing it, and 63% believe that if they’re prompted to install them to access some deals, they’ll uninstall the app shortly afterward.
In such a scenario, PWAs offer a better alternative for getting the apps “found” by users, while offering better market reach to the brands.
The truth is that applications are really expensive to create and upload on platforms like Google Play Store or the App Store. Depending on the nature of their app, the retailers may have to spend somewhere between $50,000 – $150,000 and above on the whole process of design, development, and certification.
Developing different applications for separate operating systems like iOS and Android also hikes the price tag significantly.
But PWAs are relatively cheaper to develop and more accessible to the users, as well as retailers looking to make a mark.
Freedom To Experiment
Developers can constantly experiment and create a better user experience without risking the entire system with the combination of PWAs and headless architecture.
For example, if you have to test a variety of options with A/B tests, you can do so faster and also integrate the features under test into your PWA without affecting the back-end operation, and check for errors. There is huge scope for corrections and improvement, bringing the best to the users.
PWAs are quicker to develop and deploy, as compared to native applications. These PWAs are also easier to build and require less maintenance and updates than native mobile applications.
This not only gives a reduced development time but also an overall time-conserving solution.
A Future-Proof Platform
The entire headless architecture is APO-based, meaning that this architecture can accommodate and integrate platforms and devices that are going to be developed in the future.
As retailers continue to draw traffic from omnichannel platforms, this feature becomes very significant. As new shopping preferences emerge, developers can quickly integrate them into their PWA and gain a massive edge over the competitors.
A study conducted on 46,000 shoppers by Harvard Business Review suggested that an omnichannel strategy leads to around 10% better conversion rates in all cases. This is an ideal use case for turning to headless commerce and PWAs.
This is indeed a peep into the inevitable evolution of eCommerce.
So, are PWAs and headless commerce revolutionizing the eCommerce world?
In a word, yes! But this should be a worry for only those who are unwilling to keep up with the trends. Get actively involved in this movement and get your own PWA in place to stay future-proof and profitable.