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Native App vs PWA: Magento is Doubling Down

  • 3 min
  • December 10, 2017
    • mCommerce
    • PWA
    • Magento

Guest Blogger: Peter Sheldon is a well-known industry expert in ecommerce and omni-channel technology. He previously held the role of Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, where he spent five years leading Forrester’s global research on digital commerce technologies. The project helped challenge thinking and lead change for ecommerce executives undertaking major digital transformation and commerce technology programs. Today, Peter leads corporate strategy and business development for Magento. Here is a brief summary of Peter’s thoughts on PWAs and what they mean to Mobile Commerce.


In regular speak, what is a PWA?

PWA stands for “Progressive Web Apps.” PWAs can be best described as mobile apps that run in a web browser. Think of your favorite native mobile application – how smoothly it runs, how quickly it loads, how it can send you push notifications to deliver new information. With PWAs, this exact interface occurs when you open a website in your browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.). PWAs bring all of the advantages of native mobile apps into the mobile browser.


Is there a PWA currently in the marketplace that you think highly of and is a good example of rendering apps obsolete?

Aliexpress is an online website where shoppers can buy everything from baby clothes to refrigerators from China. The company just launched a PWA last year to deliver a more engaging web experience that is just as fast as its mobile application. Since launch, they’ve seen a 104% increase in conversion for user acquisition, 74% increase in time spent per session, and doubled page visits per session per user across all browsers.

There are some other noteworthy examples out there I encourage everyone to check out:,, and Twitter Lite.


Notifications and off-network performance are two arguments for native apps. How will PWAs combat those?

The secret behind PWAs is “Service Workers.” Service Workers allow JavaScript to run in the background of the PWA and process important functions such as predictively pre-loading content, sending push notifications and synchronizing and receiving data offline. One of the strongest selling points for PWAs is their ability to send in-browser push notifications. For brands, this means you can send real-time, personalized communications to users. Furthermore, PWAs can detect the state of the mobile network and thus developers can design them to be tolerant of poor network conditions. For example, a PWA can preload content to ensure an uninterrupted web browsing experience during those 60 seconds when a commuter train enters a tunnel.





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