PWA Explained: What to Expect in 2021

by | Apr 6, 2021


Brent is a passionate Chief Magento Evangelist, and has been deeply involved in the Magento Community for over a decade. He is a business leader who loves to experiment and try new things, which includes PWA. When he's not building his team and business at Wagento, you can find Brent training for a marathon.

Brent Peterson is President and Co-founder of Wagento Commerce.

Although Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) were first introduced by Google back in 2015 as a promising alternative to native apps and mobile-friendly websites, they’re still sorely underutilized by retailers today. With global mobile commerce exploding due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021 will be a crucial year for businesses to make the switch to PWAs.

Millions of people expect websites to function quickly and seamlessly on any device they use, so any company that can’t meet that growing demand will risk losing their loyal customer base to key competitors.

What are PWAs?

Progressive Web Apps combine the best features of both responsive sites and native applications. They’re flexible enough to work in any browser, offer more features than a typical responsive or mobile-friendly site, and are far less expensive than developing a custom app from scratch. Jason Rzutkiewicz and Jeremy Lockhorn of Y Media Labs explain that “PWAs can offer certain functionality that is typically associated with native applications.” For instance, a user can:

  • Experience fast loading speeds.
  • Install the PWA on their device’s home screen for easy access.
  • Enjoy a full-screen experience.
  • Browse content offline.
  • Receive push notifications for relevant content.

Key Benefits of PWAs

Since a customer doesn’t have to download anything in order to use a PWA, this can eliminate the chances of someone abandoning a mobile app. If a shopper is required to download an app before they can even look at a website, this will most likely cause them to try another site instead.

In addition to removing frustrating barriers for shoppers, Google defines the four top benefits of an effective PWA using their FIRE acronym, which stands for:

  • Fast. PWAs have pre-cached pages and can be combined with AMP technology to provide users with quick loading times. For instance, before Forbes switched to using a PWA, the site could take up to 12 seconds to load, causing an estimated 53% of users to abandon the website. After upgrading to a PWA, their browsing sessions increased by 43%.
  • Integrated. Since PWAs feel just like a regular smartphone app, they’re easy for people to navigate. They can also be installed on the user’s device if they choose, and push notifications can be enabled to show customers timely and relevant information.
  • Reliable. PWAs offer a consistent experience for users with offline capabilities, seamless updates, and instant synchronization of content on all versions of a website. For example, when Starbucks debuted their PWA, the numbers of daily and monthly active users quickly doubled thanks to the practical features the PWA offered.
  • Engaging. PWAs can be easily paired with a variety of web components to enhance your website. You could combine your PWA with features like SoundCloud or YouTube videos to give your visitors rich content and keep them on your site longer.

Advantages for Businesses

It’s apparent that PWAs are preferred amongst mobile shoppers, but they offer significant advantages for retailers as well. Choosing a PWA over a native app will allow you to:

  • Boost SEO with built-in tools. PWAs are incredibly SEO-friendly. Since they function within any browser, the content on a PWA can be easily discovered by a search engine. Furthermore, their quick loading speeds help improve SEO, as faster sites stand out in the Google algorithm.
  • Maintain a flexible and scalable site. Native apps are notoriously limited when it comes to creating customized experiences for users, and they can be difficult to upgrade. PWAs offer the same kind of unlimited flexibility that you would expect from a typical website without slowing down performance for users.
  • Offer top-notch security. PWAs must operate through HTTPS, giving users peace of mind if they choose to make a transaction or share personal information with your business. Using HTTPS is additionally one of the best security practices for keeping your site secure and protected from data breaches or hackers.
  • Save time and money. One of the biggest disadvantages of developing native apps is that they’re expensive and time-consuming to create. When you consider the number of mobile shoppers who would be willing to download an app just to browse a specific site, a native app simply isn’t worth the effort for most retailers today.

If you’re looking to upgrade your ecommerce experience for visitors in 2021, the Wagento – Webscale partnership is your best bet. To learn more about Webscale’s tailor-made hosting infrastructure designed around the needs of headless storefronts and PWAs, click here.

Interested in having a conversation around PWAs? Drop us a line at and one of our experts will get in touch soon.

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