Original authors: Aleksandra Kwiecien & Ola Mazur *

Progressive Web Apps, even though they did not initially take the market by storm, are slowly but surely carving out their place in a variety of industries, proving themselves to be a solid alternative to native apps. PWA can be a dream come true for businesses struggling with the mobile gap (mostly in eCommerce) or the ones that just are looking for a better way of engaging the users (such as the publishing industry). 

For about ten years, mobile apps were the gold standard; however, in spite of their extraordinary potential in terms of UX, they also have some serious drawbacks. The fee that must be paid to Apple or Google is just one of these. An even more important factor is that, as more companies launch their apps, it gets harder to stand out from the crowd and convince the users to check them out. Even if you succeed, most apps are abandoned after being used once or twice. By skipping the app stores, PWA can tell a completely different story. 

eCommerce

Online shops, instead of building new mobile apps, are moving to a much simpler solution. They now use PWAs to build online shops directly in a browser. 

Let’s check how top eCommerce businesses use PWA development for eCommerce and what they gained, according to the TOP 30 PWA benchmarking study.

Learn more in The Beginner's Guide to PWA.

The great shift towards PWAs

Modern online stores and marketplaces are moving towards the new concept of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). This makes the buying and selling process simpler and more accessible for customers. With PWAs, you don’t need to adjust your eCommerce mobile apps to either Android and iOS operating systems or other distribution platforms. Instead, you use modern web capabilities to deliver an app-like experience to your customers. It is cheaper than native apps, and is safe and fast at the frontend. It can also work offline.

See how top eCommerce businesses use PWA development for eCommerce and what they gain. The TOP 30 PWA benchmarking study.

We’re going to look at some of the very best PWA marketplaces and stores from the eCommerce and publishing industries.

TOP eCommerce marketplaces using PWA

AliExpress

Traffic: 666.5M

AliExpress.com is a marketplace offering products to international online buyers. Their mobile commerce is growing three times faster than the eCommerce version. AliExpress decided to build a cross-browser Progressive Web App to combine the best of their app with the broad reach of the web.

Results:

  • 104% more 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

Jumia

Traffic: 5.6M

Jumia.com.ng is a leading eCommerce website in Africa. In Jumia’s main market, most of the mobile connections are on 2G networks. That’s why users only have intermittent connectivity and visit the site from low-end phones with data limitations. Jumia Travel has enhanced and optimized all the various elements of their PWA experience. The company noticed a huge increase in conversion rates compared with the previous mobile website.

Results:

  • 33% higher conversion rate
  • 50% lower bounce rate
  • 12x more users versus native apps (Android & IOS)
  • 5x less data used

Alibaba

Traffic: 155.6M

Alibaba.com is the world’s largest online business-to-business trading platform serving 200+ countries and regions. After upgrading their site to a PWA, the company saw a huge increase in total conversions across browsers.

Results:

  • 76% higher conversions across browsers
  • 14% more monthly active users on iOS
  • 30% more monthly active users on Android
  • 4X higher interaction rate from Add to Homescreen

5miles

Traffic: 2.0M

5miles.com is a mobile marketplace where shoppers can buy almost everything. They decided to build a PWA to combine the best of their app with the broad reach of the web. The company wanted to re-engage their mobile web users just as they would with mobile app users.

Results:

  • 50% decrease in bounce rates
  • 30% increase in time spent on the site
  • 30% better conversion for users who arrived via Add to Homescreen

Flipkart

Traffic: 258.4M

Flipkart.com is India’s largest eCommerce site. They decided to combine their web presence and native app into a PWA, which has resulted in a big increase in conversions.

Results:

  • 3X more time spent on site
  • 40% higher re-engagement rate
  • 70% greater conversion rate among those arriving via Add to Homescreen
  • 3X lower data usage

OLX

Traffic: 40.7M

Olx.in is one of the largest online destinations for classified ads in India, which provides communities in high-growth markets with vibrant online marketplaces. OLX wanted to re-engage mobile web users, so they looked to PWA technologies to provide a faster-loading, immersive app-like experience.

Results:

  • 23% less time until a page is interactive
  • 80% lower bounce rates
  • 146% higher CTR on adverts
  • 250% more re-engagement

Konga.com

Traffic: no data

Konga.com is a leading eCommerce website in Nigeria and its largest source of traffic and user growth is provided by mobile devices. Konga wanted to provide all of their web users with the benefits of their app, including performance, the ability to work offline and re-engage without the data cost.

Results:

  • 92% less data for initial load, vs. native app
  • 82% less data to complete first transaction, vs. native app
  • 63% less data for initial load, vs. previous mobile web experience
  • 84% less data to complete first transaction, vs. previous mobile web experience

Publishing industry

We’ve already presented PWA examples from the fashion industry, now we want to present you with the 10 top progressive web apps in the news and publishing industry. 

Worldwide media outlets provide thousands of stories and news articles to their readers each day, many of whom connect only on mobile devices. The PWA standard is a publisher’s dream. It eases readers’ access to the newest articles and allows them to share the hottest of them seamlessly between different touchpoints. This summary of news sites leveraging PWA technology is presented in alphabetical order.

Billings Gazette | US

Billings Gazette is a daily newspaper printed in Montana. It’s one of the most widely distributed newspapers in the US. Their PWA facilitates access to publications, making sites readable even when not connected to the internet. It is one of many advantages that a PWA has over native applications.

Highlights:

  • Can work in offline mode
  • Website design looks like a mobile app

Financial Times | UK

The FT is a renowned British broadsheet dedicated to economy which has international reach. The characteristic feature of the Financial Times is the salmon color of the paper on which it is printed. The same color is used for the background on the website. They have produced a PWA version of the publication to allow readers to consume articles offline and on the go.

Flipboard | US

Flipboard is a personalized application that collects various content from social media, news channels, and other websites. All of this information is then presented in a magazine format which allows users to “browse” shared articles, images, and videos. Readers can also save stories in Flipboard magazines. Thanks to its PWA, users can view previously saved offline content, among other things.

Highlights:

  • Lean and fast PWA
  • Flipboard has a full-featured native application, but a PWA allows them to hedge their bets in terms of user preference

Forbes | US

Forbes is an American business biweekly. The headquarters of the editorial office is on Fifth Avenue in New York. Steve Forbes is editor-in-chief of Forbes, and editor of Randall Lane. ‘Forbes 400’ is a list of the richest people in the world while the ‘Forbes 500’ lists the largest companies in the world. The mobile PWA launched in the spring of 2017 has been a huge success.

Highlights:

  • Faster load times – new site loads in an average of 0.8 seconds
  • The app increased user engagement by 100%
  • 43% increase in sessions per user
  • 3x increase in scroll depth
  • Ad views up 20%
  • Highly visual content
  • Push notifications specifically for Android devices
  • Story formats in which users can swipe through any kind of content
  • Forbes cut down the average size of its web pages from 2MB to 30KB

Medium | US

The Medium platform is an example of social journalism. It has a collection of amateur and professional content—along with various publications, blogs, and publishers—and is regularly treated as a blog.

Highlights:

  • The web page improved its initial performance score from 26 to 44
  • Page load time decreased from 7 to 4.5 seconds

Smashing magazine | DE

Smashing Magazine is an online magazine and eBook publisher for web developers and web designers. The magazine is available within the European Union. Smashing Magazine covers topics such as coding, design, mobile, graphics, UX design, and WordPress. The Smashing Magazine website is now a full PWA.

Highlights:

  • The main page now needs 2 to 3 seconds to become fully interactive
  • The HTTP/2 data transfer is fast enough on 3G
  • Caching is turned on

Sports Mole | UK

Sports Mole is an online magazine about breaking sports news and has live coverage around the clock. Sports Mole is a site from the team that created the entertainment website Digital Spy. The site covers sports such as football, cricket, tennis, rugby, golf, and Formula 1.

Highlights:

  • Page load is fast enough on 3G
  • Page transitions don’t lag due to network conditions

Twitter | US

Twitter is a popular microblogging online tool launched in 2006. But now we want to talk about Twitter Lite, which is a data and storage friendly way to use Twitter on a smartphone. It’s a new mobile web experience which minimizes data usage, loads quickly on slower connections, is resilient on unreliable mobile networks, and takes up less than 1MB on a mobile device. Building a PWA has allowed users to access many functions available to desktop users and native users of the mobile application.

Highlights:

  • 65% increase in pages per session
  • 75% increase in tweets sent
  • 20% decrease in bounce rate
  • loads quickly on 2G and 3G networks
  • Minimizes data usage. Data saver mode downloads only the images or videos users want to see
  • The PWA is only 600KB over the wire vs. 23.5MB of downloaded data needed to install the native Android app

Read the full case study

The Weather Channel | US

The Weather Channel has been forecasting since the 1980s and now serves people all around the world across many platforms. The Weather Channel is a top 20 site in the United States. On mobile, The Weather Channel pushes vital information to their native-app users. Weather.com wanted to notify its users about weather changes immediately. The progressive web app fits perfectly with this as it allowed the introduction of push notifications in a browser.

Highlights:

  • 80% improvement in load time
  • Availability of the PWA – 62 languages + 178 countries
Read the full case study 

Zuperkülblog | DE

New on the market, Zuperkülblog is a blog about art, film, design, and photography.

Highlights:

  • Page load is fast enough on 3G
  • Page transitions don’t feel like they block on the network
  • Responds with a 200 when offline

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* This article is a compilation of two pieces from the Divante blog, originally written by Aleksandra Kwiecien and Ola Mazur. It was updated with a new introduction by Kaja Grzybowska in Aug 2020.

Kaja Grzybowska

An experienced journalist writing for Wyborcza.biz, biznes.onet.pl, NewConnect.info and Inwestycje.pl. Previously was a managing editor of Interaktywnie.com, a website dedicated to technology, advertising, digital media and economy.

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