Major Benefits of Building a PWA vs a Native App

                                                                                                                                    Image credit: Pexels

Have you already transformed your Magento-based online store into a progressive web app using Magento PWA Studio or another modern framework or toolkit? Do you still hesitate to decide whether to choose a PWA or a mobile app? Anyway, time is literally running out. The m-commerce sales share overtook traditional eCommerce from desktop devices in 2017. The trend is irreversible, so making online businesses mobile-friendly must become your highest priority for the nearest future.

Let’s find out which advantages PWAs have in comparison with mobile apps. We’ll consider such aspects as development spending, performance, UX/UI, versatility, and a number of advanced features.


The main drawback of native apps for every company is the need to pay for them twice. You must elaborate on two separate applications if you want them to be accessible for both iPhone and Android owners. iOS and Android developers use different coding languages as well as platform and marketplace requirements while working on apps.

In contrast, PWAs are websites by nature. Thus, they’re compatible with either every mobile operating system or any browser. Moreover, by remaking your traditional site as a progressive web app, you’ll gain its better desktop version as a bonus. Saying “better,” we mean faster and contemporary in terms of design.


People have to download and install native apps. There are three flaws linked with this condition.

  1. Firstly, apps are quite weighty; so, users think twice before downloading any of them.

  2. Secondly, as mobile apps gradually take up more and more space, people need to get rid of some less used ones one day. Nobody can guarantee that your app won’t be among those unfortunate. Thirdly, there are very few apps that people use on a regular basis. Thus, for online retailers, it’s a considerable risk to invest in traditional mobile apps. Will your customers be ready to get your app if they purchase once a month in the best-case scenario?

When it comes to PWAs, the trick is that a web app icon can appear on your home screen, but it isn’t physically downloaded to your phone as a large native app would. Instead, you just add a shortcut to reach a website without googling it every time.

In the screenshots below, you can see how I added an icon of the Adidas Ireland PWA to my home screen. The installation process took less than a second!

                                                                Screenshot taken on the official Adidas website

Speed and UX/UI

Native apps are deservedly admitted to having flawless performance and usability. It’s reasonable because they have been designed precisely for smartphones, unlike websites.

However, PWAs can brag properties that are comparable to mobile apps. Higher speed is reached due to progressive web dev means, while excellent UX/UI is created in line with the core principles in mobile development.

Have a look at the screenshots below from the AliExpress PWA. It is indistinguishable from its native app: the main menu is at the bottom of the page, navigation is intuitive, the “Add to cart” button is fixed at the bottom.

                                                          Screenshot taken on the official AliExpress website

Advanced Functionality

Both native apps and PWAs have similar additional traits that are vital for eCommerce: the capability of operating offline and sending push notifications.

Offline mode means that even unstable/poor connection and temporary absence of internet can’t prevent customers from shopping. All assets that have already been downloaded are then cached. Therefore, people can see them and perform some actions (e.g., add an item to a cart). Such queries go to the “queue” and are handled after the connection is resumed. Offline mode aims to make users stay on the platform without disruption.

Push notifications were formerly the perk of native apps. But now this feature is available for websites too. It is one of the core parameters of a progressive web app as well. The only obstacle for PWAs is Apple’s restrictions that hinder showing push notifs to iPhone users. Hopefully, this and a couple of other limitations will be abolished in due course.


Google doesn’t rank traditional mobile apps. Thus, you can’t apply SEO strategies to make your brand more visible to potential clients. In turn, PWAs, powered by Magento 2 or other CMS, are indexed by search engines. Thus, you can constantly improve your site’s ranking.

There is another significant reason for rebuilding your online store as a progressive web app. Google particularly respects speedy and responsive websites. And one of the main goals of creating PWAs is to equip websites with these properties.

Final Word

As mobile retail commerce has been developing at an accelerating pace, you need to opt for either a native app or a PWA right now. Progressive web apps have a wide range of benefits for eCommerce businesses. In the essential aspects, PWAs turn out to be as handy as native apps: lightning-fast speed, offline mode, mobile- and user-friendly UX/UI. In some points, PWAs even surpass mobile apps: compatibility, versatility, SEO possibilities, and developing expenditures.

About the Author

Kate Parish

Kate Parish is the chief marketing officer at Onilab with over eight years of experience in Digital Marketing in the sphere of eCommerce web development. Kate always aspires to broaden her competency in line with cutting-edge global trends. Her primary areas of professional interest include SEO, branding, PPC, SMM, Magento PWA development, and online retail in general.

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Kate Parish

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