Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: Who is the winner of the battle when it comes to eCommerce. Let’s find out.

Building an eCommerce platform comes with its own challenges. From user engagement to site performance, there are a number of things that you need to put into consideration while building your eCommerce store. 

With the increasing demands of modern-day consumers, eCommerce store owners need to provide an easy, fast and hassle-free shopping experience in order to get bigger returns. And that’s where PWA and Native Mobile Apps come into play. 

Both of these technologies allow us to build a strong engagement in platforms and thus help increase eCommerce sales. But, what out of the battle of PWA vs Native apps should you choose for the development of your eCommerce store? We will find the answer to this question in this article. 

But, first, let’s get familiar with both technologies.

What Is a Progressive Web App?

A Progressive web app is neither a website nor a mobile app – it lies somewhere between both of them. A PWA is a mobile site developed with modern JS frameworks, intended to perform  like a native app. 

These applications can be added to a mobile device’s home screen with an icon. Like applications, they offer a full-fledged experience to engage people utilizing it. But, they are still only a website when opened. To get an idea of whether PWAs are a right fit for you eCommerce Store, let’s see some of their advantages and disadvantages: 

Advantages of Progressive Web Apps

Looks and Feels Just Like a Native App

When using the app, users can not depict the difference between a PWA and the native application. A PWA looks and feels like a native app and can even allow you to offer similar features to your users like integration with the system, push notification, icon on the home screen, etc.

Cheap and Fast Development

PWAs are less expensive, quicker, and simpler to develop than a native applications. Creating native applications from scratch requires specific technologies for both the platforms. While in case of PWAs, all that is required is HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Responsive

PWAs are exceptionally responsive. They auto adjust the layout as per the device. That means, whether it be a tablet, mobile, desktop or laptop, PWAs will run smoothly on all of them.

Secure and Reliability

PWAs are more secure when compared with traditional web applications since they are always served by means of HTTPS. This guarantees the application can’t be tampered. One can depend on Progressive Web Apps even when the network is terrible as it can even work offline. This is possible through service worker, a kind of web worker.

Lightweight and SEO Friendly

Despite the fact that PWAs are packed with excellent features, they are very lightweight. Also, PWAs have URLs and, thus, are indexed by Google. That implies users can easily find a PWA utilizing a search engine.

Disadvantages of Progressive Web Apps

Features are Restricted in PWAs

Since PWAs are just half applications, their functionality is constrained. There are a few features that PWAs can’t utilize. For example, PWAs don’t have access to contacts, calendars, alarms and browser bookmarks. Also, a PWA can’t intercept SMS or calls, get a user’s phone number and so on. Progressive web applications can’t access Bluetooth, which is crucial to indoor geolocation. 

They Lack Web Browser Support

All internet browsers do not support PWAs. Progressive web applications are Android-driven, and they don’t operate on Safari. Considering that Safari is the leading browser in the US with 51% of the market share, there’s a risk of losing an enormous mobile application audience if you just have a PWA.

They Have Limited iOS features

In PWAs, push notification feature is not available for iOS users. Progressive Web Apps can send push-notification just to Android phones. Because of the same eCommerce store owners lose a huge target audience since iPhone users are big online customers. Also, with a PWA, iOS users can confront issues like constrained storage space

Now that we know what are PWAs and what benefits they can offer to eCommerce store owners, let’s put the spotlight on the other option available i.e. Native Mobile Apps.

What Is a Native Mobile App?

A Native App is a Mobile App that is downloaded and stored directly on your phone. A Native Application is considered as a feasible solution for online business because the App is coded and developed especially for use on mobile devices, like Android or iOS.

The users can download the Native App from App Stores, for example, Google Play or the Apple App Store and it can make complete use of features of a mobile device. To get an idea of whether Native apps are a right fit for you eCommerce Store or not, let’s see some of their advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of Native Mobile Apps

Great Performance and User Experience

Since native applications are developed for a particular platform, they provide high performance. Also, native applications are downloaded directly on smart phones, enabling the software to use the device’s processing speed. And since the data is stored on the device itself, the application loads ordinarily faster. 

Interactions With Other Apps

Native mobile applications can interact with different applications, which means you can easily connect your users with third-party while using your app. For example, for authorization using Facebook to shipping through FedEx, any type of integration with a third-party service is possible.

Customizability

Native applications give incredible opportunities as far as the interface and user experience is concerned. eCommerce store owners can modify their stores as they want and stand out from the crowd by including unique features.

Disadvantages of Native Mobile Apps

High Cost of Development

Native mobile applications are a bit complex to develop and expensive to maintain, unlike PWAs. Online store owners need to build up a mobile application for every platform and afterward, they also have to maintain them.

User Acquisition

Users need to download a native application from the application store to begin utilizing it. For most online customers, this is viewed as an additional step in the online shopping journey of the customer. So users may consider a PWA more accessible.

Discoverability

To be found is the key advantage of PWA that can without much of a stretch be found via search engines. It brings new possibilities for content-driven organizations that run native applications. PWA content will be crawled in the web search results. While Native App can’t be as discoverable but simply distributed on the store page, constraining discoverability as compared to PWA. 

Now that we have seen what are PWAs and we also know all about Native Mobile Apps, their advantages and disadvantages, it’s time to compare their key features to find out which one is best for your eCommerce store. So, let’s dig in:

Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps: Which to Choose for Your eCommerce Store?

It appears to be a simple question: Is there a difference between native apps and progressive web apps? Yes, obviously there is a difference and we have seen it in the segments above. However, finding an answer to which one should you use for building your eCommerce store, requires deeper research.

So, let’s compare both of them against several factors and make an informed decision:

Attributes PWA Native Apps
1. User Experience and
Performance
**** *****
2. UI Development & Maintenance
Cost
Low High
3. Security Medium High
4. Cost of Publishing Low Medium
5. User Acquisition Process Short Long
6. SEO Friendliness Yes NO
7. Offline Mode Available Available
8. Data Consumption Low High
9. Cross-platform capability Yes No

1. User Experience and Performance

At the core of any PWA, there are service workers, scripts that run in the background and separate it from the web page. With the help of service workers, you can manage prefetch, offline requests, cache resources, synchronize data with a remote server and do a lot more things. This implies that after your application has been added to the home screen, it can load in a split second and be utilized offline or in slow network connection.

However, because PWAs run from a browser, there will be latency and more battery consumption in their case when compared with native mobile apps. A native application can integrate with the underlying operating system. It can use device hardware to do more computations and deliver a superior experience to your clients. Hence, native code is quicker and native applications are more powerful.

2. Development & Maintenance Cost

Native applications are comparatively expensive to develop and maintain. Brands must develop separate applications for every single OS and afterward update them regularly. Also, it is important to pay for access to application marketplaces and utilize additional promotions on them. PWAs are built as web pages, and that’s why the expense of their development is a lot lower.

Updates can be done automatically in PWAs as they are connected to eCommerce backend. They do not rely on operating systems or marketplaces.

3. Security

PWAs need to run under HTTPS. These security protocols guarantee security. However, still, native applications are a bit ahead with regard to providing security. With native applications, you have the alternatives to build in numerous security measures like Multi-Factor Authentication, Certificate pinning and furthermore it goes through App Store’s security prerequisites because of which users prefer to trust a native app more when it comes to security.

4. Cost of Publishing

Native applications require marketplace commission of up to 30%. That is somewhat high and organizations that are selling physical products can’t afford the cost of it. Marketplaces also keep an eye on apps and their updates which make it difficult to plan new updates and their releases. PWAs are free of any commission or control. Online stores publish them independently and can freely plan updates and promotions and respond to market changes in a brief time-frame.

5. User Acquisition Process

Native applications should be downloaded from a dedicated application marketplace. For users already utilizing the mobile website, it is an extra step in the user journey and also a distraction. 

Normally, eCommerce stores will have to pay a bit extra to get users to their native applications, even if users are already visiting their site on mobile. PWAs, with a button to Add to the Homescreen, can be saved in a single tap from the mobile site page. It brings down acquisition costs and make the procedure short. 

6. SEO Friendliness

Native application pages can’t be indexed in the search engines. Users can either discover your application through the application store or the application store’s website. PWAs, on the other hand, works like websites so they can be indexed in search engines.

While you can improve the discoverability of your Native App with ASO, the search engine can not crawl your Native Mobile App.

7. Offline Usage

It is one of the fundamental features of the mobile application. When using Native Apps, users can utilize all functionality that is overseen by the cache when the connection was there. PWA users can likewise utilize this function once the PWA pages are cached by the service worker. But, PWA is a little slower when compared with the native application in the offline mode.

8. Cross-Platform Compatibility

Native apps are developed separately for every platform. If you want to create an app for iOS platform, you will have to code it in Swift or Objective C whereas if you want to build a native app for Android you will have to use Java or Kotlin. Native apps do not offer cross platform compatibility. On the other hand, PWAs do have cross-platform compatibility. You need to code a PWA once and you can run it on various platforms.

So, from the above discussion, we can see that both PWAs and native apps have their own Pros and Cons. And, while selecting between them, you have to consider the viewpoints every one of them leads in, and how they fit in with your vision of the application.  Let’s clear the clutter with conditions now:

Progressive Web Apps vs Native Apps

You Should Go With PWAs if:

  • You are just starting a business and need a single application for your users. PWAs do not need any download and allow you to connect with the users by means of push notifications
  • You have budget and time constraints: PWA requires less time and budget and you can hit the market ASAP with these apps.
  • You need to improve branding and SEO: PWA is just like an updated version of a website and can help you reach a wider audience.

You Should Go With Native Apps if:

  • You want brand credibility: Being published on application stores increase reliability and also native applications have greater security options.
  • You need to use smart phone features: If you plan to promote your brand using their location or sensor/detection is crucial to UX of your app, you must go for a native application

Wrapping Up

Although native applications cost a ton to develop and comes with a tedious development process, to guarantee the comfort of your users, we prescribe choosing a native mobile application for your eCommerce business. Or, if you are just starting out, PWAs can easily serve your needs.

With every one of the advantages that both these technologies offer, your online store will effortlessly satisfy needs and growing modern consumer demands that will lead to higher conversion rates. You only need to choose the option that best fits your needs.


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