Progressive Web Apps vs. Native Apps: Which Is Right For Your Fashion Business?

Over the last decade, consumers have switched to using mobiles as their primary device for browsing and shopping. As a result, many fashion brands are increasingly investing in their mobile strategy. 
Thijs van Schadewijk

Thijs van Schadewijk

Founder & CEO
Two smartphones side by side show a comparison between a progressive web application and a native app for fashion retail brands

One of the main questions we hear is whether brands should invest in a Progressive Web App (PWA) or a Native App. Although this is often posed as an either/or choice, the reality is slightly different. A PWA and a native app provide different entry points for your customer journey; both are better than a standard website, and ideally, a brand would have both.

The question is, which should you invest in first?

We believe that the answer for most fashion brands is that it is better to invest in a native app first. Let’s take a look at why in more detail:

What are Native Apps?

A native app is an application that has been created using a particular platform’s native coding languages so that it can take advantage of all the features of the device it is run on. The app is downloaded from the device’s app store and installed on the mobile device, where it can be accessed using the home screen.

Native Apps provide benefits to performance, security, and functionality; by working with the device at the OS-level, they’ll load faster, offer better protection of customer data, and have better compatibility with the platform’s native user interface elements. The one downside is that because they are built for a particular platform, you need separate apps for Android and Apple devices.

What are Progressive Web Apps?

Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs, are websites styled to look like apps. They are written using common web technologies – HTML, CSS, and JavaScript – and can run inside a browser or be installed on a device. Once installed, they can be accessed from the home screen of your mobile and open without a browser window, creating the look and feel of an app. 

Many popular websites now offer this functionality, including Twitter, Pinterest, Uber, and Forbes. The advantage of a PWA is that it combines the discoverability and shareability of a website with features that mimic some of those of native apps, although they are not as fast or powerful.

Native Apps Enable You To Engage with Customers With Video & Text Push Notifications

Push notifications are a great way to communicate with your users. These real-time alerts appear on the user’s screen, enabling you to put vital marketing messages and updates front and centre on their screen – even if they don’t have the app open. These notifications can be in text or video format, and using them can increase engagement with your app, boost user retention, and increase conversion rates.

But, to use this marketing technique effectively, you need a native app; PWAs can serve push notifications to Android devices, but not to iOS devices, losing a vital share of the market. A native app is the only way to engage with your entire audience using push notifications. 

Native Apps Offer a Better Experience and Higher Conversion Rates For Fashion Brands

When marketing a fashion brand, visuals are absolutely key. Not only does a native app provide a significant performance increase for data-heavy visual content, but it also enables features that would be difficult or impossible on a mobile website or PWA.

For example, Highstreet Mobile’s fully shoppable video lookbooks enable brands to showcase their products while offering customers the opportunity to make a purchase decision at any time. And because the content is preloaded, it’s available immediately. Providing similar functionality on a PWA would be technically challenging and time-consuming.

These benefits are reflected in superior conversion rates for native apps when compared to mobile websites and PWAs. Highstreet Mobile client PME Legend experienced a 38% uplift in conversion rate when upgrading their old mobile website to a PWA. However, through their native app, they recorded a conversion rate 2.6x that of their PWA (a 160% increase) and 3.6x higher than their old mobile website (a 260% increase).  

Showcase Your Brand With Highstreet Mobile

If, like many businesses, you already have a website, but don’t have an app, your mobile strategy is missing a vital source of traffic, and your next step is to invest in a native app. A native app will provide another entry point for customers and the opportunity to give a faster and more complete experience to returning customers.

Highstreet Mobile has been designed specifically for fashion brands, providing you with the features and performance you need to showcase your range effectively and create unique interactions with your customers and fans. Features include:

  • An easy-to-use video lookbook creation system, which enables brand merchandisers to upload videos and choose which products display on the video.
  • A catalog with products so that users can seamlessly purchase products.
  • Best-in-class user interface designed to streamline the shopping experience and thoroughly tested over time.
  • Moreover, since the platform is based on an app-as-a-service model, Highstreet handles security, maintenance, and updates. 

Because the platform is offered on an app-as-a-service model, Highstreet manages security, maintenance, and updates, and you can launch a brand app within 6-8 weeks without a big IT budget or months of planning. If you would like to ask any questions, or request a demo, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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