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PWA vs Native App: Which Should Retail Brands Prioritize?
Posted by Julia Morrissey on May 16, 2022
Over the last decade, consumers have switched to using mobile as their primary device for browsing and shopping. As a result, many fashion brands are increasingly investing in their mobile strategy.
One of the main questions we hear is: progressive web app (PWA) or native app? Although this is often posed as an either/or choice, the reality is slightly different. A PWA and a native app provide different entry points for your customer journey; both are better than a standard website, and ideally, a brand would have both.
The question is, which should you invest in first?
Below, we take a detailed look at PWA vs native apps in order to answer that question.
What Is a Progressive Web App (PWA)?
The advantages of a PWA include:
Shareable with a URL
Less expensive and faster to build
Doesn’t require installation
Can run on any device or OS
Instant, automatic updates
Limitations of a PWA:
Limited unique functionality
Can’t interact with other apps
More battery consumption
No push notifications for iOS devices
What Is a Native App?
A native app is created using a particular platform’s native coding languages. Therefore, it takes advantage of all the features of the device it runs on. The app is downloaded from the app store and then installed on the mobile device, where it can be accessed from the home screen.
The advantages of a native app include:
More unique features and functionality
Push notifications available on all devices
Better security and protection of customer data
Can interact with other apps, such as camera, payments, and GPS
Faster load time
Limitations of a native app:
More expensive to build
Requires separate apps for Android and Apple devices
Approval from app stores is required
PWA vs Native App: Side by Side
Now you have a clear idea of the main advantages and disadvantages of each app type, take a look at this side by side comparison of PWA vs native apps.
Looks like a native app but less functional
Visually appealing, easy to use, highly functional
Highly customizable with unique features
No installation required, runs on mobile device’s browser
Required (expect for mini apps like an App Clip)
Not available for iOS
Available for all devices
Can be shared with a URL
Users need to visit the app store
Cost to Develop
Less expensive, only need one team
More expensive, need separate teams for iOS and Android
Time to Develop
Limited time required
More time required to create and to get app store verification
Uses more battery
Doesn’t consume much battery
Improved privacy and security, two-factor authentication
Can’t communicate with other apps on device
Can communicate with other apps on device
Can function offline
Does not require users to update
Requires users to update
Why Brands Should Prioritize a Native vs Progressive Web App
When it comes to native vs progressive web apps, for retail brands, a native app is a better initial investment. Below we highlight why native apps are superior to PWAs.
Push notifications are an easy and seamless way to engage and communicate with customers. These real-time alerts appear on the user’s screen, enabling a brand to put vital marketing messages and updates front and center for the customer. Even if they don’t have the app open.
These notifications can be in text or video format, and using them can increase engagement with your app, boost user retention, and increase conversion rates.
But, to use this marketing technique effectively, you need a native app. PWAs can serve push notifications to Android devices, but not to iOS devices, losing a vital share of the market. A native app is the only way to engage with your entire audience using push notifications.
Better User Experience
When marketing a fashion brand, visuals are absolutely key. Not only does a native app provide a significant performance increase for data-heavy visual content, but it also enables features that would be difficult or impossible on a mobile website or PWA.
For example, fully shoppable video lookbooks enable brands to showcase their products while offering customers the opportunity to make a purchase decision at any time. And because the content is preloaded, it’s available immediately. Providing similar functionality on a PWA would be technically challenging and time-consuming.
A native app also has geofencing capabilities which enable developers to set up virtual boundaries. When users step inside these boundaries, such as your physical store, the app can trigger phone actions. A location-based activated store mode allows you to make it even easier for customers to pick up orders, scan products, and interact with store associates.
Higher Conversion Rates
Providing customers with more communication and a better user experience leads to superior conversion rates for native apps when compared to mobile websites and PWAs. NewStore customer PME Legend experienced a 38% conversion rate lift when upgrading its old mobile website to a PWA. However, with a native app, it recorded a conversion rate 2.6x that of its PWA (a 160% increase) and 3.6x higher than its old mobile website (a 260% increase).
Showcase Your Brand with a Native Consumer App
If, like many businesses, you already have a website, but don’t have an app, your mobile strategy is missing a vital source of traffic. Your next step is to invest in a native app. A native app will provide another entry point for new customers. Even more, it’ll give a faster and more complete experience to returning ones.
When building or deploying a native app, it is critical to have features and performance capabilities that showcase products effectively and create unique customer interactions. Some features to consider:
An easy-to-use video lookbook creation system, which enables brand merchandisers to upload videos and choose which products are on display.
A catalog with products so that users can seamlessly make purchases.
A thoroughly tested user interface designed to streamline the customer’s shopping experience.
A system that handles security, maintenance, and updates, so you can focus on the brand.
NewStore Consumer Apps help brands radically enrich their brand experience online, in-store, and on mobile. Reach out to one of our app experts to learn how you can launch a native app in 6-8 weeks.
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