Ecommerce platform Magento has announced the availability of its Progressive Web Applications (PWA) Studio, a suite of tools for building online stores with app-like experiences.

PWAs are apps which are accessible via browsers but offer more functionality than sites which have been optimised for mobile.

Mobile apps provide retailers with frictionless experiences, however they are expensive to build and maintain and retailers have a hard time convincing consumers to download and regularly open their apps.  

The new tool aims to provide highly personalised cross-channel experiences on mobile without having to build a native app.

“PWAs blur the lines between mobile app and mobile site by equipping merchants and developers with a new front-end architecture that allows them to leverage open web APIs to build ‘app-like’ experiences directly in the browser that are fast, engaging, boost online conversions and enhance the pervasiveness of the in-store experience,” Peter Sheldon, Senior director of strategy, digital experience, Magento writes in a company blog post.

According to the company, early adopters such as AliExpress have seen 100 per cent jump in conversion rates since making the switch to a PWA.

Magento says PWAs enable faster mobile browsing and smoother scrolling which means new pages don’t need to be reloaded.

They also enable push notifications on Android devices and operate in “full-screen” mode, hiding the browser URL bar on the top and the browser navigation tools on the bottom of the screen, so they look and feel more like a native app.

Magento also argues the PWS will enhance the in-store experience. For example, retailers can build native integration with the device camera, so shoppers can scan shelf barcodes and complete payments in-store with Google and Apple Pay.

“PWAs have the potential to replace legacy POS systems and retail associate platforms providing a fast, efficient and cost-effective way for store associates to locate product online and in-store, provide self-checkout, service returns and save the sale and more directly from an employee’s smartphone,” Sheldon said.

Magento’s new parent company Adobe also announced a slew of new product features this week.

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