NRF: Will success in mobile shopping depend on progressive web apps?
Mobile site load time has a significant impact on conversion rates for mobile shoppers, according to statistics presented at the 2019 NRF Show in New York by Chris Sater, strategic partner development manager at Google, and Peter Sheldon, senior director of commerce strategy at Adobe. Messrs. Sater and Sheldon suggested that progressive web apps (PWAs) are the way retailers can address the problem, and that progressive web apps represent the future of mobile web and mobile shopping.
Citing statistics, Mr. Sheldon said that pages that take six to seven seconds to load result in bounce rates (visitors leaving the page on their first visit) of 30 percent or more. When the load time is reduced to two seconds or less, the bounce rate drops to 10 percent.
Using a tool that calculates the impact of speed on revenue, Mr. Sater estimated that if a million and a half dollar per year e-tailer with an average transaction value of $125, a two percent conversion rate and an average page load speed of 4.8 seconds improved its page load speed by only one second, it would generate an addition $35,000 per year.
The presenters saw PWAs as a solution for the need to optimize the mobile experience. PWAs are browser-accessible websites built with characteristics that greatly resemble native mobile apps.
As Mr. Sheldon explained, PWAs make use of newer web browsers’ features to improve speed and “progressively” update pages, instead of reloading them. Advanced caching also allows users to continue interacting with the PWA during instances when they lose mobile connectivity. Because they are accessible via browser, PWAs circumvent inconveniences in traditional native smartphone apps, like the need to visit an app store, log in, download and install the app. Users can “install” PWAs on their smartphones by placing an icon on their home screen so that it can be accessed in the same way as a native app.
Mr. Sater quoted a Gartner forecast that posited that PWAs could replace 50 percent of general purpose consumer-facing mobile apps by 2020.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that mobile speed optimization has the kind of impact on e-tailer revenue that Google and Adobe’s statistics appear to demonstrate? Would widespread PWA adoption have a meaningful impact on the mobile shopping experience?