Business continuity is all the rage right now – and for good reason. What with COVID-19 pushing most to work remotely even well after lockdowns have eased, we still have a long way to go from achieving complete normalcy. Everything has gone virtual – from the corner shop selling groceries to weekly yoga sessions, things that require in-person attendance are reserved only for what’s most essential.
Earlier this year, businesses were scrambling to establish suitable remote work environments for their teams. Now that the vast majority of businesses have comfortably settled in, the focus is drawn to other issues – and increasing sales is one of them. Of course, the aspect of encouraging more sales has always been of top priority. But these economically compromised times have created a shift in turnover rates, as well as the manner in which customers engage prior to making a purchase.
The pandemic has made all of us shift the way we work, study and live – but it has also taught us some integral lessons along the way. In consideration to an evolving business landscape, COVID-19 and its subsequent social distancing policies have re-calibrated most fundamental aspects, especially the way we interact with one another. As many of these re-calibrations have occurred for things we’ve otherwise taken for granted up until now, it has motivated many business leaders to see things from a fresh perspective.
How can we nurture more sales? How can we increase brand exposure? How can we reach out to our customers better? While such questions have always graced the boardroom from time to time, the current pandemic climate has everyone thinking from an all-new angle. As the web and the cloud have both been indispensable for business continuity during this current pandemic climate, it’s also a great starting point for further augmenting company operations.
Enter mobile apps, and more specifically – Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Being a great alternative to its Native cousin, PWAs have become popular for many reasons. Ease of access, faster development and smooth user experiences are some of those broader reasons – all of which sound even more useful to support business objectives during a time like this. In other words, Progressive Web Apps seem to be a prospect that’s more enticing than ever before. On top of that, the deployment of PWAs by some of the world’s leading brands (such as Twitter) is proof of its efficacy, therefore warranting a good look at what it can offer on an enterprise level.
Contrary to popular perception, PWAs are compatible across any device – from desktops to smartphones. However, this article will discuss the many ways that a mobile-based PWA will be beneficial to your business – since most consumer engagement today is geared from smartphones. But before that, let’s get down to understanding the basics.
So first things first…
In layman’s terms, Progressive Web Apps are mobile applications that are delivered through the web. Think of a typical (Native) mobile app – but delivered over a web browser. In other words, tapping on the link or icon of the PWA will take you to your mobile’s web browser, where you can interact with the application as usual.
Since PWAs work on web browsers, they don’t need to be downloaded from the App or Play store prior to using them. In turn, this alleviates the need for meeting individual standards on both App and Play stores before an app is approved – making development and deployment that much faster. This also means that businesses don’t have to depend on their users upgrading their apps regularly after each patch is released, for optimum performance.
While easy cross-browser compatibility is an obvious plus, many PWAs are also functional on older browser versions – albeit with less features. Unlike before, web APIs have evolved to also accommodate features that couldn’t be integrated before – such as camera, microphone, location and even payment gateways. As a result, PWAs are self-sufficient to serve as standalone apps for a wide range of purposes, without the need for a Natively developed version. While some instances will find a Native app to be more suitable, it’s safe to say that PWAs can serve a broad range of objectives, along with its many benefits.
As an agency that specializes in software development in Sri Lanka, this is one of the biggest reasons why our clients approach us. While some wish to encourage better sales, others aim to streamline online interactions for better engagement. The versatility factor that PWAs possess makes them a great candidate for encouraging smoother user journeys overall. So no matter what you wish to achieve through your app, a Progressive Web App is a fine choice – especially if you’re a B2C company.
Thanks to cross-browser compatibility, your app will be instantly accessible. In other words, there’s no need to make sure your users download your app before you see them interact with it, and finally make sales. Subsequently, this will streamline the journey your users have to take to reach your offerings. But it will also streamline the data you accrue and KPIs you set for insights and analytics. Alleviating the download of Native apps also means that you need not worry about users having the latest version, in order to access your offerings.
All of this caters well to an on-demand consumer culture that’s spoilt for choice, and isn’t afraid to move towards the next best option. Cumbersome apps and high page load times will mean abandonment, and a light PWA can make a huge difference with regards to the ease of access you provide to your users. On top of that, removing the need to download an app further reduces abandonment. This is because it’s common for many to let go of a product pursuit if there’s waiting time (and data packet usage) to download a brand new app beforehand.
Speaking of which, these advantages are well suited to facilitate alternative forms of marketing too – such as SMS and email. In the case of SMS, sharing a link to your PWA can be an easy and quick call-to-action from message to browser – and one that doesn’t involve prior app download. Email marketing can benefit from consistency, as users will get to see a uniform layout of the same PWA they are directed to – whether it’s on desktop, tablet or mobile.
This significantly applies to multinational companies that are aiming to establish a presence in regions that have compromised connectivity and/or mainstream usage of older devices. Other than that, even companies locally based in these regions can vastly benefit from a simple PWA, as these apps can function well with spotty internet connectivity, and even offline. Likewise, older devices and legacy software is also something that PWAs will be compatible with; while all functionalities may not be available, apps can also be specially designed to cater to these nuances.
With many developing countries considered to be emerging markets, there is massive potential for many global brands to set base here. For this, the right product is key, and developing it into a PWA will be a sensible investment. A Progressive Web App will be sustainable in the long-term, since it’s possible to roll out patches without App/Play store approvals and user updates. This ensures a digital product that’s always uniform and updated for every single user, every time it is accessed. This also creates a development cycle that is affordable to implement and maintain in the long term. In turn, this lowers product cost – a great advantage for emerging markets that cite affordability as a prime buying factor.
The greatest advantage of PWAs has to be its capability to offer user journeys that are uniform – irrespective of device, OS, browser version or where the link was accessed from. Whether you share the link through a simple SMS or a social media post, a PWA offers consistency throughout, thereby giving businesses the chance to simplify the process by which their products/services can be obtained.
Add to this the current economic climate, and the heightened dependency it creates towards the online medium. Whether it’s purchasing products through an e-commerce platform or for paying a monthly subscription, a Progressive Web App is ideal to provide users with a base that they can use without having to download anything prior. Faster development times and upgrades further leverage the whole process. This thereby gives even smaller players ample room to create, deploy and maintain their own Progressive Web Apps, while focusing on selling their products and services in spite of intermittent lockdowns amidst the current pandemic.
In light of it all, let’s not forget a very important aspect of digital products and services that are geared towards the average consumer – customer-centricity. No matter what your business objectives are, it is imperative that they all revolve around customer-centricity. PWAs are therefore a perfect complement to this, as they help elevate customer-centricity with fast page loads, up-to-date versions and the like. Again, this ties in perfectly with the commonplace issue of app/page abandonment; with a lack of user-friendliness being the main problem. Higher engagement and retention that are welcomed by PWAs are key contributors to customer-centricity, and to the overarching vision of a business that consistently delivers quality.
Businesses have long since made a successful shift towards a remote work environment, while some continue to get accustomed to it. As the past few months have increased an already heightened reliance on the web, cloud computing and the online medium in general, consumers are also looking to fulfil most of their duties online too. This can range across the spectrum – from groceries and medicines, to bills and even staying in touch with friends. Considering this current health and economic climate, businesses now have an even higher chance to attract customers towards their online brand presence in a plethora of ways. But many factors determine whether a strategy shall be effective or not. In light of fierce competition and almost limitless options out there, customers are free to jump from one brand to another. This means that even the slightest hiccup can cause abandonment, and so it is imperative that you have an online presence which can smoothen that journey for your user, while helping you stand apart from your competition.
Enter Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). A web-based application that looks and feels just like a Native app (the kind you would download on your phone from the App or Play store), PWAs run on mobile browsers. This introduces a number of advantages, to consumer, developer and business alike. For one, there is no need to download an app in order to access its services, thereby removing that extra step in the process. PWAs are also faster and easier to build and deploy, making maintenance more sustainable. Since separate downloads are required, there is also no need to regularly update the app – you simply gain access to the latest version by tapping on its respective link.
Such advantages create a lot of leverage on an enterprise level. As the number of steps is reduced within the user journey, the whole process is much smoother. This encourages better engagement and retention rates, while also ensuring true customer-centricity. Being able to share a PWA through a simple link can prove to be very convenient for alternative methods of marketing, such as SMS and email. PWAs are also well functional across older devices and browsers. With a little extra tinkering, you can create a digital product that can be well suited to emerging markets in developing countries – a great stepping stone for international brands that wish to establish a presence in such markets. PWAs are also resilient in the face of poor internet connectivity (and can even work offline), thus making it an application that is truly versatile across a wide range of circumstances.
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