The app experience evolves into new mobile storefronts
App-based strategies take front and center in an e-commerce brand’s digital strategy as consumers increasingly use mobile devices and mobile internet.
Prompted by the pandemic, the at-home consumption and contactless environment outside the home have accelerated the use of the internet and mobile device. By January 2021, roughly 4.66 billion people were using the internet, most of them using mobile devices. Along with the growing number of mobile users, the percentage of app usage also increases every year. On average, people spend 88% of their mobile internet time within apps.
The consumers’ clamor for app-based experiences now becomes a key consideration for a digital e-commerce strategy. Creating a storefront that provides an app environment can bring growth and success to a business.
However, developing a native, merchant-branded app requires a significant amount of time and effort. Not to mention the additional expenses that the business owner incurs in the process. It will also need extra marketing initiatives to bring users to download and use a merchant’s branded app.
Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) without big budgets for such development have other mobile solutions that provide app-like experiences, blurring the distinction between apps and browsers.
PWA brings an app-like experience to mobile web pages
Mobile accounts for approximately 55% of the web traffic worldwide. However, mobile conversion is less than half of the desktop rate. Providing a great shopping experience can help merchants better engage their customers and boost on-site purchases.
Progressive Web Apps (PWA) delivers high engagement and reaches new user bases by providing app-like experiences on the mobile web browser. This web capability gives the site the appearance and behavior of a native app, including:
- Rich user experience: PWAs bring the same fast and reliable environment as the native applications. These pages load instantly, regardless of the internet connection. They also load fast and respond instantaneously to user queries and input.
- App-like appearance: PWA pages look like an app when loaded. The overall user interface has a streamlined design that puts the business’ branding at the front and center, highlighting elements such as the business logo and product hero images.
- Home screen accessibility: Users can create a shortcut icon on their device’s home screen that looks just like a regular mobile app. They can select the ‘Add to Home Screen’ button from the PWA-powered webpage to create the shortcut icon. It skips the tedious process of going to an app store, searching, and downloading the app. There’s also no need to open a browser, type in the brand name, and wait for it to load every time users want to visit a site.
- Push notifications: PWA sites can send alerts that appear on the home screen, engaging the users even when the mobile browser is closed.
Over the years, PWA technology has gained significance in the e-commerce sphere. It helps boost online stores’ conversion rates by bringing better user experiences through app-like design and features, among other benefits. Alibaba and UK clothing brand George.com experienced a 76% and 31% increase in mobile conversion rates, respectively, after employing PWA. Many leading businesses that have integrated PWAs also reported a considerable increase in user engagement. Starbucks saw its daily active users increase two-fold after launching its PWA solution with images and animations.
Cafe24’s PWA service, the Smart Web App, delivers a responsive and streamlined experience to mobile customers. Many e-commerce giants like Alibaba grant merchants access to their platform’s PWA solution. But Cafe24 directly provides this technology to SMBs with its one-click process. Store owners can click the ‘enable’ button on their online store’s admin page to create a PWA version of their Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) web store. This storefront is optimized for mobile devices for no additional cost and doesn’t require any coding knowledge in the setup process. The Smart Web App also automatically implements new updates on the online store.
FB Shops providing app-like experiences on social
According to Statista, most people spend their time on social media and chat apps. On Facebook and Instagram alone, the estimated average daily time spent is 37 minutes and 29 minutes, respectively. This shows that social networking apps are excellent channels to reach existing and potential customers.
Facebook Shop allows businesses to set up online stores on Facebook and Instagram. Merchants have quick access to tools that help them best present their businesses on these apps.
Users can click on a brand’s Shop to browse a mobile storefront customized to the brand’s image and personality. Shop makes it easy to look for items and save them for revisiting later. Users can see detailed information about a product, such as color and size, as well as similar recommendations, on product pages. They can also filter searches by date, price, discounts, and availability. There’s no need to open a separate mobile browser to check item details on a web store, keeping the users’ journey on social media uninterrupted.
Shop’s best feature, however, is its shopping cart integrated across the Facebook and Instagram platforms. Users can throw items in their carts as they spend time on both apps. They can purchase items as they scroll their feed, view stories, or visit a page or profile, making shopping on social media effortless.
Shop is free and easy-to-use for businesses of all sizes to showcase their products and content. SMBs and entrepreneurs on Cafe24 can tap the more than 250 million people actively interacting with Shops and drive more sales. Merchants can set up and manage their Facebook and Instagram storefronts directly from their DTC store admin page. Through real-time system data integration, updates on the online store are synchronized and immediately reflected on Shops. Moreover, they can integrate new e-commerce features, such as live shopping, product tags, and Collections, as soon as they are available.
Bringing the app-based storefront to the world
The rise of digital solutions that make shopping on mobile devices easier is ushering in a global mobile e-commerce era. Mobile shopping is expected to reach 3.5 trillion dollars or 72.9% of the total global e-commerce sales in 2021. The adoption of mobile shopping worldwide grew by 55.4% in 2020, with the top ten fastest-growing markets all in Asia. Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and South Korea are rapidly advancing into buying online via mobile devices — faster than the global adoption rate. Meanwhile, the number of shopping and e-commerce app downloads in 2020 was up by 18.7% and 20.3%, respectively — signaling higher demands for in-app online shopping.
The quick mobile e-commerce adoption in various regions underscores the need to create a strategy that utilizes mobile- and app-based solutions. Using in-app and app-like features in the storefront ensures a convenient and familiar shopping journey for mobile users. This approach will make it easy for businesses to penetrate established and emerging mobile markets around the globe.
Cafe24 recognizes the growing trend for mobile apps. It provides solutions that enable its merchants to serve the native app experience in various ways. With PWA, merchants can transform their mobile e-commerce sites into a streamlined page replicating the native app environment. It ensures easy site navigation and compatibility to the devices of the 6.95 billion mobile users worldwide. Meanwhile, through Shops, merchants can reach 3.3 billion global Facebook platform users. They can present their products and content to customers without leaving the app and interrupting their social media browsing.
Cafe24 can do all these by partnering with high-tech e-commerce service providers and platforms. Together with its partners, Cafe24 is fast on track in adopting new technologies and turning them into services and tools that DTC stores need. Merchants can leverage the company’s network effects to expand its sales and marketing channels and deliver functions optimized for markets that heavily use smartphones and tablets.