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Guide | April 16, 2021

PWA vs. Native App: Which is Better for Your eCommerce Business?

It is now the age of mobile even for the eCommerce sector. In 2017, mobile eCommerce sales accounted for 34,5% of total eCommerce sales. And eMarketer has projected that the figure should reach 54% by the end of 2021. And to satisfy modern customers’ demands, e-commerce entrepreneurs have to provide a fast, easy, and seamless mobile shopping experience. That’s where mobile apps and progressive web apps (PWAs) come in. 

But is a progressive web app or a native app better to optimize your eCommerce performance? To make an informed decision, you’ll first need to know the pros and cons of each approach. To simplify things, we’ve written this guide about the differences between PWAs and native apps and how businesses can benefit from each.

1. Native App

A native app is an app that is created for a specific platform, and it is downloaded from the app stores like Google Play or App Store, using a memory of an operating system. Thus, an app is optimized for one operating system, and it works fast and adequately appropriately for most device features, including cameras, microphones, contacts, files, etc. 

a. What to Love about Native App

Why should you consider building your eCommerce a Native App? The decision to create a mobile native app comes with several advantages. Below some of the most vital pros are presented.

  • Functionality

Native apps have access to a range of functionalities specific to the OS it's designed for. When developing a native app, you'll have access to all the different tools and APIs offered by the host's platform. Native app development allows for creating complex applications while ensuring stability, security, and good performance.

  • Speed and Performance

Native apps tend to deliver superior performance than cross-platform apps. Why? Because of the seamless integration between the app itself and the host's operating system.

  • Ranks Highly on App Stores

Apps with better user experience rank higher on the app stores. This leads to greater visibility, more downloads, and increased profits. Thanks to their high performance and ease of use, native apps often occupy higher positions on app stores than cross-platform apps.


Native apps often occupy higher positions on app stores than cross-platform apps.

  • User Interface

Native apps deliver a great user experience as they are tailored towards a specific operating system. This means they can make use of functionalities particular to that system. App visuals are also tailored to a particular OS, so aesthetics are high-quality.

b. What to Think Twice about Native App

Native is all about performance, the ability to do things better than cross-platform or web apps – if, in fact, they can do them at all. This specialization is the native app’s greatest strength, yet the basis of its greatest weakness: cost.

  • Additional resources

When writing applications for multiple platforms, a development team typically consists of one or more mobile software engineers for each supported platform. This, of course, inherently increases the size and cost of a development team. It also requires the team of engineers to have a variety of skills instead of having a homogenous skill base. This has the potential to fragment a team concerning support and collaboration.

  • Slower development cycle

Native apps can have a slower development cycle simply because a separate application must be written for each desired platform. The extreme case is when a single mobile development engineer is on the team since each application is essentially written in series.

2. Progressive Web App (PWA)

According to Gartner’s “Progressive Web Apps Will Impact Your Mobile App Strategy” report, PWAs will replace 50% of total native apps worldwide by the end of 2020. Affirming such possibilities, Google recently released their Progressive Web Apps on Google Play for Chromebooks, raising PWA integration standards. So what does a PWA do? Is it really a superior option to replace Native apps?

Read the full article on PWA

a. What to Love about PWA

As PWAs gradually grow to break their boundaries, the more capabilities they have. This demonstrates that their full potential has not yet been discovered. Here we are mentioning the most notable advantages that PWAs offer.

  • All in one

With a PWA, your system is now one size fits all. PWA acts like websites, making it possible for you to share the PWA by copying links to the pages. And Progressive Web Apps fit all devices like smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers.

  • Short loading times

Most users have been encountering slow loading speed problems on websites. However, it would not happen with PWA. It works faster, even with a poor internet connection, and users do not have to refresh the pages every time since it accesses content directly via a URL.

  • Offline capacity

PWAs work well, even without an internet connection. They leverage data cached during your last interactions with the app.

  • SEO-friendliness

Quick downloading plays a large role in the website’s position in Google’s mobile search engine. PWAs are indexed by Google and other search engines, even though working very similar to a native application. It’s an absolute plus for SEO.

  • PWAs are cheaper than other apps

Modern tech like PWAs is more affordable to develop and integrate than native mobile apps. They don’t need specific technologies, just pure javascript, HTML, and CSS.

b. What to Think Twice about PWA

Every bean has its black, and PWA is no exception. It is vital to know these disadvantages to control every possibility of potential damages to your systems and prepare to minimize them so that users will own the most satisfying experience on your PWA.

  • Missing out on App Store traffic

If you develop a PWA, you are not exposed as a company in the Apple or Android app store. Apps are often found because they are visible on one of the well-known app platforms. It is, therefore, a considerable disadvantage that you cannot use this “springboard” to a broader audience.

  • Limited for scalability

It is still a challenge to develop a revenue model or advertising opportunities for PWAs. At the moment, there are fewer options than among native apps to subscribe to.


It is still a challenge to develop a revenue model or advertising opportunities for PWAs

  • Unable to access some service features

Unlike native apps, these web applications have fewer features. iOS does not support all functionalities of PWAs on Apple devices. As a result, the possibilities of PWAs are limited for many users, which is a shame. In a world where the UX (user experience) is at least as necessary as the marketing of the product itself, a lack of user experience is a real loss.

3. What to choose for your eCommerce business

eCommerce business now comes in every size and form to serve their segmented customers. Therefore, each would need a suitable technology approach to achieve their goals. For newly-established eCommerce companies and businesses that have not yet aimed to produce high performance, it is advised to choose PWA as your mobile technology foundation as it is rather economical and more SEO-friendly to attract new customers to your apps in the first place.

However, scalability and performance are what you are looking for, especially for large businesses with millions of users and products. It is vital to adapt native apps although it might cost a fortune to develop a truly customer-centric app with full functionalities and require a development process that is more time-consuming. Native apps should promote a more personalized experience along with targeted marketing performance, which PWA is limited for now.

One other option is that businesses can extend the channel mix by adding an ecommerce PWA in parallel with their responsive site — it’s possible to do both — and then measure results to see if a native app is still required.

Stay tuned for more eCommerce technology advice to boost online shopping profits by signing up for our monthly newsletter, or get in touch to find out how we can enhance your eCommerce sales presence.

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