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How to Integrate Progressive Web App (PWA) in Magento 2

Vinh Jacker | 06-19-2019

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To be successful in today’s business world, it’s crucial for Magento e-commerce stores to approach potential customers who had shopping habits on mobile devices. Although there are many solutions to appeal to mobile users such as create a responsive website, build a native app or hybrid app, develop Progressive Web App - PWA in Magento 2 seems to be the hottest trend. Let’s figure out what this technology can bring about and how we can apply it to existing Magento stores.

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Table of Contents

What Is Progressive Web App (PWA)?

What Is Progressive Web App

As you might know, a Progressive Web App is a web app that applies web capabilities (HTML, CSS, Javascript) to deliver great user experience mimicking native apps. More specifically, PWA can function like a native app with an icon on the mobile home screen, splash page (after opening the app), full-screen display, push notifications, and so on.

All of the PWAs must assure three essential criteria: Fast (respond to user interactions nearly instantly), Reliable (be able to work under poor network conditions) and Engaging (deliver smooth app-like experience).

There are some major differences between a PWA and a native app:

  • A native app can only run on a certain operating system (iOS or Android) while PWA is powered by mobile browsers and supported on both iOS and Android.
  • You have to download the native apps from an app store; meanwhile, PWA can be installed quickly after adding to home screen.
  • Users must access their app stores to get the latest version of the native apps but refreshing to get PWA updates.
  • Since PWA runs right in a web browser, it is easier for store owners to share and promote the PWAs than native apps. PWAs work on-demand without taking up the device’s memory like the native apps

Statistics about Progressive Web App (PWA)

In 2015, the phrase PWA first time emerged on Google. After mobile-friendliness was considered a ranking factor, Google helped to make PWA become more and more common. For this reason, a lot of website owners began to look at PWAs as a way to improve search engine optimization (SEO) among many other things.

PWAs were created by well-known companies including Jumia, AliExpress, Debenhams, and others. This list is regularly updated as mobile commerce’s annual market share increases. Insider Intelligence statistics show the prediction that by 2024, mCommerce volume will make up 42.9% of all eCommerce and a total of $620.97 billion.

Let us give you a significant case study to demonstrate the changes that PWA could bring. Being famous as a fast-paced social media, Twitter allows users to quickly post or share their thought and message, retweet content, and even enjoy conversations about hot topics. However, in the past, it had not been lightweight, and lacked flexibility and agility before 2017 when Twitter decided to replace its application with a PWA named “Twitter Lite”. The results were really impressive:

  • Tweet volume increased by 75%
  • Pages per session rose 65%
  • Bounce rate dropped by around 20%
  • Storage space requirement decreased by 5% compared to the standard version for the Android app.

Magento PWA Requirements

To integrate PWA in Magento 2, there are some prerequisite components that need fulfilling:

  • Progressive Web App Manifest: Create a manifest file that defines the metadata and configuration for your PWA. The manifest file contains information such as the app’s name, icons, theme color, and other properties.

  • Service Workers: Implement service workers, which are JavaScript files responsible for handling caching, offline functionality, and push notifications in a PWA. Service workers enable your PWA to function even when the user is offline or has a weak internet connection.

  • Backend GraphQL API: Magento offers a GraphQL API layer that serves as the backend for your PWA. Make sure you have GraphQL functionality enabled and properly configured to integrate PWA in Magento 2.

  • Transport Layer Security (TLS): TLS is a cryptographic protocol designed to ensure communication and security between servers and web apps. In fact, customers provide online stores with a ton of personal information, including their names, addresses, and even their card numbers. As a result, using HTTPs connection is necessary to protect customers’ data.

  • Pop-up Working Principle: PWAs depend on the pop-up theory of operation in terms of UI/UX. It involves starting a brand-new pop-up for new action. Users can swipe the overlaying page as well as be still on the current pages.

  • App Shell Architecture: In case the remainder of your content is loading, the app shell architecture will show a page skeleton. It is what will remain when all dynamic content, or items that change from one page to another, has been eliminated.

What Are Available Methods To Convert A Magento 2 Website To PWA?

What Are Available Methods To Convert A Magento 2 Website To PWA

There are five options of Magento PWA integration for Magento store owners to consider:

1. Install Magento 2 PWA Extensions

This is the easiest way to add Progressive Web App features to your current Magento website. Now, there are many Magento 2 PWA extensions from different providers (both free and paid) for you to choose from.

  • Pros: The cost of Magento 2 PWA modules are affordable (from $0.00 to $150). Also, it takes just a few hours to install those extensions on your site.

  • Cons: In general, most of the PWA extensions for Magento 2 are not able to deliver the full features of Progressive Web App. For some modules, they can just perform the “add-to-home screen” and send push notifications while ignoring other essential features such as fast page load speed, offline mode, and background sync. You should not only read what the developers promote module, try their demo and you will see!

2. Take advantage of Magento PWA development services

Without doing everything by yourself, you can have Magento PWA developers implement this task for you. PWA development is an essential and complicated process, so it’s better to hire experienced developers. The cost of hiring them is actually much cheaper than the cost of making mistakes by yourself.

  • Pros: You can spend your time on other essential business aspects, while ensuring that the process is successful.
  • Cons: It’s challenging to find a reliable and budget-friendly Magento PWA development agency.

Mageplaza is a good option when you look for high-quality and trustworthy Magento PWA development services. Their progressive web application development services maximize user engagement, while combining the best of both web and mobile apps with smooth navigation. Their PWA solutions offer offline compatibility and access even in poor network conditions.

Their Magento PWA development services include:

  • Custom progressive app development services
  • PWA UX/UI design & optimization
  • PWA upgrade/migration
  • App shell model
  • PWA testing
  • PWA maintenance and support

If you want further information, don’t hesitate to contact them today for free consultations!

PWA Development Services

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3. Your PWA Using Magento 2 PWA Studio

Magento introduced Magento 2.3 PWA Studio to help us develop, deploy and maintain a PWA storefront for Magento 2 websites.

  • Pros: Compared to available Magento 2 PWA extensions, developing your PWA from scratch using Magento 2 PWA Studio is a more comprehensive solution. It will replace your existing Magento storefront with PWA storefront that will be connected to your backend via API.

  • Cons: Magento 2 PWA Studio is just a set of tools to support you in PWA development. There is still a long way to go. You can take a look at Venia storefront (PWA Studio demo) that is immensely basic and lack of many Magento default features.

4. Magento 2 PWA Demo

This is Venia storefront as Magento 2 PWA demo:

https://venia.magento.com/

5. Convert Your Site To PWA Using Magento 2 PWA Theme

Magento 2 PWA Theme is an advanced PWA integration solution, which is based on Magento 2.3 PWA Studio, ReactJS, and GraphQL. It includes two parts: an extensive PWA storefront and built-in API to connect this storefront and Magento backend.

  • Pros: Up to now, this seems to be the most potential solution to integrate PWA in Magento 2 website. Firstly, it can deliver all we expect from a PWA: lightning load speed (on both desktop & mobile devices), shortcut on the home screen, splash page, fullscreen display, network independence, background sync, low data consumption, easy update, and so on. Secondly, its PWA storefront demo shows a much better version than the default Venia storefront with a complete layout for all pages of the site. As a result, it will reduce the significant time for your PWA development.

  • Cons: Although this Magento 2 PWA Theme meets all criteria of the Progressive Web App as well as provides a great storefront that looks like a normal Magento 2 frontend, you still need to customize the PWA storefront according to your design. Also, if your site has some custom functions or installs some third-party extensions, you will have to check their compatibility with the new storefront and update the API as well.

How Much Does It Cost to Integrate PWA in Magento 2?

How Much Does It Cost To Implement PWA In Magento 2

As we mentioned, there are three methods to convert Magento 2 websites to PWA, which are associated with different costs:

1. Magento 2 PWA Extensions

You need to buy the module (up to $150) and pay for the installation service (or install and configure the extension yourself).

2. Magento PWA Development Services

It depends on some factors, like your particular requirements, types of features, development time, design complexity, etc. However, by trusting Mageplaza’s experts, you’ll receive the best possible PWA development services at a reasonable and competitive price.

3. Magento 2 PWA Studio

You have to hire PWA developers who have strong experience in both Magento 2 and PWA to build your PWA from scratch. It will take up to 6 months to develop your PWA storefront and new API using Magento 2 PWA Studio tools. You should prepare a generous budget for this integration.

4. Magento 2 PWA Theme

Since both PWA storefront and core API were ready built, your cost will mainly depend on your level of customization. This cost would be more reasonable than the second solution and higher than the first solution but it deserves your investment.

Read more: Magento 2 PWA Theme extension - Magento 2 PWA Theme converts the Magento 2 website into an app-like mobile application.

Why Should We Integrate PWA in Magento 2?

Progressive Web App integration has been drawing huge attention from Magento users, especially when Magento 2 PWA Studio was released. Below are the primary motivations to convert your website to Magento PWA:

  • Enhanced User Experience: PWAs provide a native app-like experience to users, enabling faster page loading, smooth navigation, and seamless interactions. With features like offline browsing, push notifications, and device hardware integration, PWAs offer a highly engaging and immersive user experience.

  • Improved Performance: PWA technology utilizes techniques like caching, prefetching, and lazy loading to optimize performance. By reducing page load times and enabling instant interactions, PWAs ensure that customers can browse and shop without any delays or interruptions.

  • Cross-Platform Compatibility: PWAs are platform-agnostic, meaning they work consistently across different devices and operating systems. Whether users are accessing your Magento 2 store from a desktop, smartphone, or tablet, the PWA will adapt and deliver a consistent experience, eliminating the need for separate mobile apps.

  • Increased Reach: Since PWAs are accessed through web browsers, they are discoverable by search engines and can be easily shared via URLs. This accessibility helps improve your store’s visibility and reach, as well as simplifies user acquisition and marketing efforts.

  • Seamless Updates: With a PWA, updates and improvements to your Magento 2 store can be rolled out instantly. Users accessing the PWA will automatically receive the latest version without requiring any manual updates or app store approvals.

  • Offline Functionality: PWAs utilize service workers to cache essential resources, enabling users to access your store even when they have a poor or no internet connection. This offline functionality ensures that users can continue browsing and adding products to their cart, enhancing their overall shopping experience.

By incorporating PWA technology into your Magento 2 store, you can provide a fast, engaging, and reliable shopping experience that meets the expectations of modern consumers, ultimately driving customer satisfaction and boosting conversion rates.

=> Learn more: How the Progressive Web Apps Can Revolutionize the Entire Magento Experience

PWA Development Services

Make your business accessible anywhere and anytime, while providing app-like functionalities on mobile devices.

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PWA Development Services by Mageplaza

Magento PWA Solutions and Viable Alternatives

Discovering Prominent Magento PWA Themes and Tools: Magento 2 PWA Studio, Scandi PWA, and More

Magento PWA Studio:

Magento PWA Studio is a comprehensive toolkit designed to simplify the creation of progressive web applications for the Magento eCommerce platform. This official Magento solution offers pre-built components and a front-end architecture, minimizing errors during development. One of the notable advantages of Magento PWA Studio for Magento 2 is its modular nature, allowing developers to selectively incorporate specific code components instead of the entire package. The toolkit includes a pre-configured application builder, setup service workers, and various customizable app elements. Additionally, Magento handles routing and caching tasks on your behalf. However, there are a few considerations to keep in mind, such as the need to remove unnecessary code, the potential for using redundant abstractions or encountering bugs, and the importance of researching existing solutions to avoid reinventing the wheel.

Scandi PWA: Scandi PWA is an open-source, ready-to-use PWA theme specifically built for Magento 2. Unlike a storefront, it is a theme that can be easily installed and applied to your store. Scandi PWA offers a range of functionalities and customizable components for developers. It is compatible with Magento 2.3 or newer versions but may face implementation challenges on other platforms or older Magento versions.

One of Scandi PWA’s key advantages is its seamless integration without requiring infrastructure changes. This developer-friendly theme facilitates rapid PWA deployment, leveraging all the associated benefits. The theme utilizes GraphQL as an API to fetch data from the backend and interact with the front end, which operates on ReactJS and populates data into placeholders. Other Alternatives: If you’re seeking more options for building a PWA storefront, here are five popular providers that enable you to create standardized apps with essential PWA features:

  1. Vue Storefront: An open-source framework compatible with multiple e-commerce platforms, Vue Storefront employs Vue.js for building user interfaces. However, it may lack extensive documentation, which could add complexity to development and maintenance. Additionally, its behavior after Magento updates might not be explicitly stated.

  2. CedCommerce: This e-commerce platform offers the Cenia PWA theme, utilizing ReactJS, GraphQL, and PWA Studio. CedCommerce consistently enhances its platform to deliver an improved user experience.

  3. SimiCart: SimiCart provides a responsive PWA theme called Siminia. Built on PWA Studio, it is free and promises a threefold increase in loading speed, improved SEO, and an app-like experience.

  4. Tigren PWA: Tigren PWA enables the transformation of a Magento store into a PWA. Based on Magento PWA Studio, it ensures compatibility with Magento upgrades while offering all the necessary features for robust e-commerce functionality.

  5. GoMage: GoMage is another Magento 2 PWA theme that offers a drag-and-drop builder to streamline development. It provides extensive customization options, integrates with Google Analytics, and includes features for online promotions, such as coupons, upsells, and automated newsletters.

Challenges You Might Face to Integrate PWA in Magento 2

Nothing is perfect, and so does PWA. Besides undeniable innovations, online store owners also have to face some challenges with Magento PWA integration.

First of all, despite the fact that all operational systems require the same solution and personnel, Magento PWA is complex and time-consuming. It could take as much work as developing a native app or optimizing a website. Therefore, the decision on where to invest money is yours.

Access to hardware functions is another issue to be aware of because native apps will integrate with a particular software platform. For example, while Android and Windows apps have additional hardware characteristics, native iOS apps will support Apple-specific features, such as Face ID. With permission to access to features like the camera, fingerprint sensor, camera, calendar, contact list, and others, Progress Web App must deal with a number of restrictions. Their level of access is determined by the OS. For instance, Android upgrades its environment more quickly than iOS and is less unfriendly to this solution. It applies to push notifications as well as hardware.

Moreover, you also need to consider pushing notifications. It is more easily when working in web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Android but not in iOS. Also this problem will be dealed in the near future thanks to technological innovation, this is still a trouble to integrate Progressive Web App in Magento 2.

Finally, cached files expire quickly. The previously downloaded files will disappear if users don’t open the PWA for a while, but the shortcut will stay.

Final Words

Many experts believe that Progressive Web App will replace native apps one day. We can’t know it for sure but the substantial growth of PWA in the future is undeniable. That’s why integrating PWA in Magento 2 websites should be carried out as soon as possible.

Last but not least, we think that PWAs can be either an alternative or a supplement for native apps. If the store owners have a strong financial capability, developing both PWAs and native apps will help them to reach the largest number of potential users. Ready to use PWAs nowadays? Contact us for more information!

Jacker

Hello, I'm the Chief Technology Officer of Mageplaza, and I am thrilled to share my story with you. My deep love and passion for technology have fueled my journey as a professional coder and an ultra-marathon runner. Over the past decade, I have accumulated extensive experience and honed my expertise in PHP development.



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