Mobile Ordering Progressive Web Apps

Progressive web apps for mobile ordering

Progressive web app for mobile ordering

StoreKit’s mobile ordering apps are progressive web apps, but what does that mean?

Both StoreKit Order & Pay and StoreKit Takeaway are things called a “progressive web app” [PWA] – which is not a web product or app exactly, but a mixture of both. PWAs retain the benefits of downloaded apps and the benefits of web products. But what are those benefits? And what does it mean to have them all? 

We’ve set it out below. 

Advantages of apps in mobile ordering – including PWAs

1) Apps and PWAs have better performance 

apps, PWAs, Internet

What does it mean?

Performance generally refers to how fast your app works. Load speeds, things like that. Zoom zoom! 

Why is it important? 

Performance is considered *extremely* important in driving conversion – i.e. getting people to buy your food. If you want to research how important, the correct search terms are “loading speeds” and “cart abandonment” and the results are scary.

But in short: 

40% of people will abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load. After that, each second delay results in a 7% further reduction in conversions. 🏎️

– When surveyed, around 30% of mobile web users said they would abandon a site if it took more than one second to load. 🏎️

– Google will punish pages which take a long time to load by making them less visible on their search engine indexing. So, faster sites make it to the top! (That’s only between PWAs and web software, though – downloaded apps don’t rank on Google at all). 🔎

Why do apps have higher performance than web software? 

Apps are software stored on phones. They may use the internet to access specific bits of data, in the case of the Facebook app, like your friend’s status – but the bulk of the app, such as scripts with the instructions for how it should display, is stored on the device itself. That makes for a good latency – the data is there when it’s needed, so it’s fast.

In contrast, if you access Facebook via the internet, Facebook is loading out of Facebook’s servers (computers), which are mostly in America, so Facebook comes to you via satellite. That makes it a few seconds slower than the Facebook app. 

Why is a PWA as fast as an app? 

A progressive web app is similar to downloading a kind of “basecamp” in the user’s phone. A reduced amount of data is stored on the device in order to help the web software unload extremely quickly – matching the speed of a native app. 

If you’re very clever, you can compare the speed of StoreKit’s software to our competitors via this developer tool – it should take about 15 minutes. (If you feel too impatient to check, that proves our point about speed!)

 

2) Apps and PWAs have better “Native Experience” on mobile ordering 

mobile experience

What does “native experience” mean?

This one’s the hardest to explain – on the one hand, it’s to do with the look and feel of the software being more app-like. To some extent, it’s a series of small features which are possible in PWAs and not traditional web dev. “Responsive web design”, for example, is where the application fits to the size of the phone screen on which it participates. A customised title toolbar (in contrast to the Safari toolbar) makes for a more immersive experience. For reasons too complex to explain here, the animations can be nicer, and the very subtle animation of buttons and sliders feel more like you can experience in an app.

But, these add up to something greater than the sum of its parts – the “feeling” of it being an app.

Why is it important?

– You’re trying to create an experience for your customers, this is paramount. It needs to feel smooth and beautiful. 💄

– It makes for easier navigation around the app. 🌎

– It conveys your food in a more attractive way. 🍔

Why do native apps have a better native experience? 

Apps have to be written on a specific phone “operating system” or “OS”, like in iOS. An operating system is the basic language of a device – it converts the physical facts of the device electric circuitry (“is this bit of circuit on or off?”) into digital code (“is it one or zero?”) into programs which can receive complex, abstract commands. 

The way those commands are structured is highly specific. And because it’s highly specific, it means that it can talk with reference to contextual information about what device somebody is using – like the width of the screen, the ways in which information is sent and received, how the style descriptors are structured within the phone – etcetera.

In contrast, websites are bits of script interpreted by a web browser through “web standards” agreed by everyone. Part of this is that websites are written and interpreted in “hypertext markup language”, or HTML. It’s a venerable language, but it has to be accessible by all kinds of devices, including old ones. 

So with apps, think of it like this: you can see what device you’re talking to, so you can make it for them. 

How can PWAs match native apps? 

To some extent, this is the result of HTML innovating, moving forward, and catching up with apps. New techniques and ideas, like “responsive web design” – that is, responsive to the facts on the ground about the device – can make a web application feel closer to the app gold standard than before.  It’s also just the fact that this has a developer “cost” to do – so sites for whom the feel of the mobile site isn’t particularly important, don’t do it. 

 

3) Apps and PWAs have access to more device features

device features

What does it mean?

There’s a number of features which are possible in PWAs and apps and not web software – like the camera, for example. 

But there’s two features we’re really interested in – homepage icons, and push notifications. With PWAs, you can consent to add a homepage icon and receive push notifications after a few times of use. With apps, you have to consent to getting a homepage icon straight away. With web, you don’t get a homepage icon.

Why are these features important?

Making it as easy as possible to buy things is never a bad thing. 

– Push notifications have a 90% open rate. That’s outrageously high. 🚀

– Push notifications boost app engagement by 88%.🚀

– Users opted into push notifications are retained at nearly 2x the rate of those who aren’t. 🚀

If you ask any marketing professional, they will tell you those numbers are mind-blowing. 

Why do apps and PWAs have access, but not web software?

Apple and Android block web software from downloading lots of scripts onto the phone. 

Their whole original idea with apps was to create a trust environment by making software providers play by their rules, which are generally good rules – no tracking other apps, no running the background down, no installers. Your gran’s computer might be riddled with viruses but her smartphone is probably ship-shape.

PWAs, which do need to download scripts onto phones, are served via HTTPS protocol to ensure their security. Apple and Android have also relented on some of the stricter rules. Unlike apps, there will be consent required initially for push notifications as part of the deal.

 

4) Apps and PWA remember 

PWA remember

What does it mean?

Apps remember data about your behaviour – if you make progress in a game, it saves; if you set settings, they save. Your preferences are stored with the other app data, where they’re remembered.

In contrast, web pages can remember, but need to use something called “cookies” – little scripts which install in your browser to remember information about your browsing behaviour on that website. 

Why is it important?

– Cookie consent forms are very annoying. They’re legally mandated, and they make the web unreadable. 🍪

Around 76% of users ignore cookies. 🍪

– By remembering which customers buy what and when, we can begin to think about loyalty features which preload preferences like “order again” or “your favourite dish”. These features aren’t available yet, but give a sense of what personalisation could soon be possible. 🍪

Why don’t PWAs need cookies?

PWAs don’t store information in cookies – they store information about past behaviour in the “base camp” downloaded to users’ phones upon first use.

 

5) PWAs and Apps work offline 

WiFi router

What does it mean?

Be aware that whether or not your app works offline, all payments happen online. So, an offline “app” is fine – but will not accept payments, and they can’t order. They will just be viewing food and building baskets.

Why is it important?

If a user is having connectivity issues, it’s nice for them to be able to “build their basket” and then solve the connectivity issue when they’re ready to order. That way, with bitty connection, they only have to connect properly at the moment of payment. 

How can a PWA work offline if it’s mostly through the web?

Well, it won’t receive updates at the moment you log in – for example, menu changes. But the data which has been downloaded onto a user’s phone includes this.

The upsides of web pages – including PWAs

phone operating systems

1) Web Pages are available on any OS

What does this mean?

Any device which can use the web can access a webpage or a PWA. In contrast, the “right” app has to be downloaded for the right OS.

Why aren’t apps available on every OS?

Earlier, we referred to what an OS (operating system) was, and how apps have to be written in a way to refer to the languages the OS understands.

Apps are expensive to develop, and 98% of the UK smartphone market is satisfied by Android or Apple, meaning that very few companies bother to build a Windows or a Huawei app.

Why is it important?

– Huawei and Windows phone users would like to use your menu as well 👀

– Apps also cannot be used on computers. If you’re looking at StoreKit Takeaway, around 20% of users tend to buy from their laptop. In most cases, you can’t download apps to a laptop. 💻

 

2) No download

It’s an obviously good thing not to ask the customer to download an app – but here’s the idea fleshed out a little more. 

Why users hate downloading apps

The app boom started around 2010. There was a number of high-profile apps which were successful, the famous “there’s an app for that” campaign ran in 2009. Marketers in board meetings identified that apps would “add depth” to their customer relationships with things like homepage icons – so nearly every large consumer-facing company got its own app. The app store was briefly a corporate wonderland.

Nearly all of them failed. Retail apps got terrible reviews, there were some high profile app failures from companies which should have done better like Disney. By 2014, “the smart guys in the room” were all wisecracking that the rush was over – Gartner famously predicted that 0.01% of apps would be considered a success.

Why?

Well, the purpose of the apps, conceived by the companies launching them, had been one-sided. They wanted an app to sell more things – and customers would want an app, they hoped, to buy more things. They wanted an app to talk about their promotions – and customers wanted an app, they hoped, to hear about their promotions. That wasn’t true. Customers are rarely anxious to hear more from marketing teams. So they never downloaded the app. 

Now there’s new thinking about customer psychology and apps:

A) An app needs to solve a problem for a user. The average number of apps downloaded by a phone user per month is zero.

B) Below a high minimum use threshold, people forget about apps.  Most people use three apps – and they use them every day, or thereabouts.  Most downloaded apps will never be used again.

C) Customers will do what’s easiest for them. Customers take the path of least resistance to a what they want to buy. If an ordering system is harder than going to the bar, they will go to the bar. If it’s harder than going to a site, they will go to a site. 

Wait, didn’t you say a home icon was a good thing?

Yes, it is. 

The dream – of getting a button with your brand on it in a customer pocket – is possible to achieve, and will be a great thing for the small proportion of customers interested in it. 

But that’s a high level of intimacy with a customer. Perhaps it’s prudent to ask customers for drinks before you marry them, so to speak. 

That’s why the StoreKit mobile products both ask for a home page icon after multiple uses – so that they get to go on a few dates with your app, first, before they put it on the home page. 

So, how should I think about this?

First, and most obviously, we think (hope) you’ll choose a progressive web app solution for your direct takeaway menu, and/or any mobile ordering system for your restaurant.

There are only upsides to a PWA – it’s fast, smooth, responsive; it will work with the beauty and efficiency of an app, all the while taking a slither of phone space. Our team of developers are hard at work thinking about the fringes of this – in particular, making software fast requires work, and it’s something we spend a lot of time doing. 

If you’re interested in hearing more, and how the capabilities of PWAs have been translated into an amazing product – ask one of our team.

 

takeaway@storekit.com