Following lessons learned from mobile-first and user-first maintenance was when we adopted the offline first approach and started to implement it in Shopify. Day by day we see that the number of mobile users is growing and e-commerce is developing towards mobile customers. Besides meeting users’ needs and mobile responsiveness, shops are now developed to meet mobile shoppers' expectations and after that adapting for desktop. That was the design strategy we called mobile-first.
Now with the offline first, we are making mobile shopping available even in resource-constrained environments. And if we want our business to succeed further, we need to adapt.
A bad connection is a major problem for e-commerce stores
Let’s suppose your customers are living a couple of miles away from their work and are spending more than two hours daily commuting to work. The majority of the time commuting, people are using for browsing and finding solutions to their problems.
If you are running an e-commerce business for a while now, you have probably built your store as a mobile-first and provided customers with a perfect solution for solving their problems. Your payment process is optimized and your products are easy to shop.
Anyway, because of browsing on mobile devices and not having a secured network, potential customers connection gets lost from time to time forcing them to leave your shop. And it is not just while commuting, weather customers are spending time at the airports or living in poorly network developed countries, they often lose connection and sales miss.
Even if it seems so, this is not unsolvable. As a shop owner, you have to be prepared and have an offline-first strategy to inform customers they are offline but also make them stay at your site as long as possible. To do this, you first must be familiar with offline first approach that PWA brings.
What is offline first approach?
Offline first means building or enabling your store to work as if there is no connection as Chrome Developer explains it. It is a development process where the application’s core features are built to function with or without an internet connection, preventing the potential customer to leave the page.
Providing consistently good UX to the end-user no matter what are their connectivity possibilities is the goal of the offline-first strategy. If we observe it through Shopify business, it means that after you built a product suitable for customer needs and easy to shop from any device, the next thing is to make it shoppable under any condition. A PWA allows users to interact with the app independent of the connection.
PWA brings offline first approach to Shopify
We have stepped deep inside the mobile-first world, and yet our approach to connectivity and bandwidth is something we pay no attention to. People are easily accepting bad mobile connection as a normal condition and they are hardly trying to make it better. In e-commerce, when the connection is lost, customers take it for granted that they are unable to browse, read or similar.
PWA brings an offline first approach to Shopify. Shops upgraded to PWA are not having an excuse for low engagement in bad or no connection, subway, mountain or low data balance. They have customers informed that the shop is accessible offline. While your competitor can lose customers over a slow page loading or lost connection, at your shop they can browse without interruption. Even if the content they are browsing is not cached, you can send them to the cached page instead of showing them a downasaur until the connection is back.
According to Brainhub, AliExpress reported a 104 percent increase in conversion rates for new users, and Twitter saw a 65 percent increase in pages per session, 75 percent in Tweets, and a 20 percent decrease in bounce rate. There are more than enough examples to show the fantastic results of progressive web apps for brands across industries
Starting with PWA and offline first
Service Workers are filling a space between the browser tab and the server and collecting content for an improved experience. They are always present at shops built as PWA. This way they are making offline browsing possible for every piece of content that was cached before. Google explains that by pre-caching key resources you can eliminate the dependence on the network, ensuring an instant and reliable experience for your users.
By the time of this paragraph, you may be thinking, this is something I should definitely go for. Before you move towards offline first, rethink your business strategy again. Are you changing content often or you are happy with your store design and products?
Following the offline first approach is not for every Shopify store
As a business owner, you need to make sure that the latest content will be shown to customers. Going forward with offline-first, and not setting it correctly can cost you revenue instead of increasing user engagement rates and at the end conversions.
If you are having a constant range of products and you don’t change them often, or if you are happy with the design of your pages, you should implement offline first. Your content will load fast no matter the connectivity and give your customers what they were searching for.
Opposite, imagine having a business closely connected to the seasons and you are selling different items depending on different times of the year. It is November and your main marketing efforts are moving towards winter collection. If your customers are searching for winter items on your shop and you are stick to offline first, they can have undesired results because of caching happened in the summer season. No matter the connectivity, if you show the customer summer collection in the middle of December, that can’t bring you sales.
PWA by AmpifyMe app is helping you solve this problem and still have all the benefits of offline-first with just one click by enabling two caching strategies for each type of business.
Choose a relevant caching strategy
There are two caching strategies that can be applicable to e-commerce businesses and if you are developing from the beginning you should go with the one that fits your strategy.
- Cache, falling back to network: Here we first check if the response can be served from cache. If the resource is not cached, we will fetch it through the network.
- Network, falling back to cache: Opposite, here we first check the network. If the request fails we check the cache for a response.
Both patterns allow customers to view content offline, the second option is just more convenient if you change data frequently and want an up to date response for customers.
PWA by AmpifyMe enables you to always have a caching strategy that is relevant to your business with no coding required. We give you the option to choose the best way to show the most relevant content to your customers. Also, if you decided to change the business strategy, you can update a new caching strategy in one click and be up to date. No matter what option you choose, your shop will work without latency.
Prepare your customers for changes
Our PWA app allows you to communicate with customers even when they are offline. At the Caching and Offline Page configuration, we have enabled you to inform them about their connectivity status together with many other features associated with it. Among others, you can choose what is the message you want them to receive and when the message will be shown and dismissed.
Use this advantage to inform customers they are offline but that they can still use some of the shop functionality. Also, tell them that while lost connection they can maybe experience some old content, but ensure them that fresh content will be back as soon as the connection is gained. You can also communicate with them using push notifications. With such an experience, customers will become loyal to your brand and recommend your service more easily.
We can’t make the network better, we can build a better website
If you handle it with grace, a bad connection on mobile can be a favor to your business and bring you some loyal customers. You just need to send the right message.
Be present offline, try PWA now for free.