Progressive Web Apps are flourishing and online stores are leveraging them to improve their performance, UX and conversion rates. Luckily, they don’t have to develop them from scratch anymore. There are several ready-to-use solutions. We set out to compare them!
Why should eCommerce care about Progressive Web Apps?
Progressive Web Apps, as we know them today, made their appearance on the technology stage in 2015. At first, PWA technology was implemented by teams working on bespoke solutions. That’s how the first social media providers, Twitter and Pinterest, to name just a few, started to serve their users an ultra-fast user experience based on Progressive Web App technology. Very soon, eCommerce players followed, and companies like Trivago or AliExpress shortened their loading times to below one second and doubled conversion rates as well as user engagement.
As the Top 30 PWA report notes: “Trivago saw an increase of installations, by 150%, among people who added its PWA to their home screen. Increased engagement led to a 97% increase in click out offers. Users who go offline while browsing can continue to access the site and 67% continue to use the site when they come back online.”
Changes in Google’s search politics (just check Mobile-First Indexing announced in 2018) and the adoption of PWA solutions in Microsoft and Apple’s operating systems were another milestone, after which more companies took the mobile-first approach and turned toward PWA technology.
The maturity of PWA solutions
Nowadays, you can still build your own PWA from scratch, but as this technology has become more popular, companies can shorten the time and costs of implementation by using ready-to-go solutions.
Investing in one of the available solutions can be at least 75% cheaper than building PWA independently and have a time to market as low as 2-3 months. We estimate that with an existing PWA solution you can reach a positive ROI after 4-9 months.
The time since PWA technology’s first appearances isn’t too long. Some might say that it is too short for a fully matured and proven solution to be available on the market. And, to some degree, they are right. Although there are several proven solutions with webshops in production to use, we have had insufficient time to judge their performance in the long run.
On the other hand, there are other aspects of these brand new solutions which give a good account of their readiness for the market – this includes basic frameworks, technology stack, architecture and community.
We decided to compare these factors for various eCommerce PWA solutions.
What PWA solutions are out there?
Looking only at the eCommerce field, there are at least several solutions worth mentioning. These are (in alphabetical order):
- Angular Storefront – issued by Flagbit in 2018. This is the youngest solution among all presented and it is still waiting for its premiere.
- Deity Falcon – this is a PWA solution for all sorts of online sites – webshops, blogs and bigger platforms. The solution was issued by the Dutch startup Deity in 2017. https://falcon.deity.io
- Front-Commerce – a ready-to-use storefront solution created by a French agency. At first, built for Magento 2 and now compatible with Magento 1. https://www.front-commerce.com/
- PWA Studio – more like a set of tools, rather than a ready-to-use solution. Still, it’s worth mentioning as it is developed by Magento, the eCommerce platform. The solution is in its alpha phase. https://github.com/magento-research/pwa-studio
- Scandiweb PWA – developed by Scandiweb agency in 2018, the solution provides a PWA for Magento-based stores. https://scandipwa.com/
- Spartacus – the project is dedicated to SAP Commerce Cloud and free to use for any business within the platform. https://github.com/SAP/cloud-commerce-spartacus-storefront
- Vue Storefront – a PWA for eCommerce. Solution dedicated to multiple eCommerce platforms, which is strongly supported by the developer community. https://www.vuestorefront.io/
It is worth mentioning that most of the PWA solutions presented above were issued by eCommerce agencies that noticed the great potential of Progressive Web Apps for online sellers. They were the first to build dedicated solutions.
Very soon, owners of the major eCommerce platforms followed in their footsteps. And so, PWA Studio by Magento and Spartacus by SAP Commerce Cloud are examples of tools created by and matched with exact eCommerce platforms and their specifics.
How to compare PWA solutions?
As we already mentioned, PWA solutions are quite new to the market. It doesn’t mean, though, that we cannot put them together and compare.
“Compare software not only by its age or vendor but look at its feature set, clarity of code, and above all, how it fits users’ needs. Take everything into account.” – Bjorn Meyer, developer at Flagbit GmbH & Co. KG
Technology & integrations
As PWA solutions are still in their infancy, developers often have to develop them in a very ‘old-school’ way. This is based on the problem-solving and solution seeking pattern. What can help a lot here is a technology that they are familiar with, or which has a low barrier to entry.
Another aspect worth investigating is the number of integrations with eCommerce platforms and external solutions. The more additional modules solutions bring out-of-the-box, the faster the PWA implementation process will be.
|Magento 2,||Magento 2,|
|Magento 2||Magento 2||SAP|
If you are looking for a more detailed tech comparison, with middleware, server-side rendering, and test tools, there is an excellent summary prepared by Bjoern Meyer.
Another thing that gives a great measure of the rising solutions state is its community. The more people support a certain solution, the more vibrant and engaged the community is. Reach out to them, ask questions and talk about your concerns.
It is very likely you’re not the first person, and you will find many answers there. Oh, and you may come across ongoing projects that can give you valuable insights for your own project.
The thing with solutions in their early stages is that usually, you won’t find any case studies or live stores. Sometimes there is even no production-ready version. In that case, always look for a demo version and run tests against it.
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It might also happen that case studies are not published yet. It is always worth asking about it.
Which PWA solution is the best?
Well, it depends. Each of the presented PWA solutions can improve online stores and give them the best of Progressive Web Apps. Your choice should be aligned with the specifics of your business and with the team behind the implementation process. By choosing any of them, you might get the feeling that you’ve just entered an amazing project and become PWA pioneers.
Regardless of the selected solution, one thing is sure: early adopters of PWAs will have a great chance to win over mobile users and set a significant gap between themselves and their rivals.