Drew Lau
Drew Lau, VP of product management for Mobify, explains that a positive mobile experience weighs heavily on customers following through with purchases.

Across industry sectors, businesses are tapping mobile technology to hawk their brands and services to consumers, from an app-exclusive discount to nudge a lipstick buy to a limited-time-only text promotion to urge them to book a flight.

As smartphones double as consumers’ personal shopping assistants, marketers are increasingly looking at mobile devices as more than merely a path to purchase, but as a bona fide place to close the sale, too.

According to Google, over 40% of U.S. online transactions are now done on mobile, “Yet, when people have a negative brand experience on mobile, they are 62% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future,” Drew Lau, vice president, product management for mobile technology provider Mobify, told CO—. Indeed, “closing that gap is the challenge,” he said.

Here, Lau shares how clients Lancôme, Carnival Cruise Line and Paula’s Choice are driving both mobile engagement and sales via progressive web apps.

Sizing up the progressive web app advantage

Where businesses once found customers experiencing significant obstacles to purchasing on phones, the customer experience is getting better. One major breakthrough is a type of website called a progressive web app (PWA). It’s actually not an app but a mobile site accessed through a web browser, just like any other website. But it has a lot of the features that made apps desirable, such as fast speeds and immersive shopping experiences that are friction-free, without requiring an app to be downloaded.

When people have a negative brand experience on mobile, they are 62% less likely to purchase from that brand in the future.

Drew Lau, VP of product management, Mobify

Lancôme: Answering the need for speed

Lancôme was one of the first in beauty to create a PWA, after determining that mobile traffic was growing but not converting into purchases. An app only made sense for customers who visited regularly. Lancôme focused on speed: a key enabler to driving business with mobile, since studies show shoppers will drop off before the first page even loads. They added technology called Accelerated Mobile Pages to load pages at double the speed. Lancôme’s PWA results have been impressive: a 36% lift in mobile revenue.

Carnival Cruise Line: Serving up real-time alerts

Carnival Cruise Line in Australia also created a PWA. They added real-time web push notifications to notify passengers of important news and offers, such as price changes or new locations. Unlike an app, the Carnival PWA is searchable on the web, where most traffic originates. So customers looking for a holiday option, like a Christmas trip to Honolulu, are more likely to discover what Carnival has to offer at a lower cost of discovery than with a downloaded app.

Paula’s Choice: Turning browsing into buying

Another beauty brand, Paula’s Choice, launched a PWA as part of a much larger e-commerce software architecture that separates the front-end user experience from back-end processes like order processing. This way, [Paula’s Choice could] evolve and test new customer experiences as simpler, more agile projects. Then, they tested their PWA against an older mobile site. In a time-to-task completion comparison, the Paula’s Choice PWA showed a 67% decrease in the time it takes to search for a product and add it to the customer’s shopping bag [than the older mobile site.] This led to a 40% increase in revenue.

An effective mobile site must support these kinds of effortless interactions and immersive experiences to achieve business results.

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