PWA examples from China

China has been a pioneer in developing and introducing Progressive Web Applications (PWA). Here I briefly discuss two of the best PWA examples from China, AliExpress, and Alibaba.

10 days ago   •   2 min read

By Frans Buikema

China has been a pioneer in developing and introducing Progressive Web Applications (PWA). Here I briefly discuss two of the best PWA examples from China, AliExpress, and Alibaba.

PWA example: Aliexpress progressive web app

Building superb mobile experiences is a huge part of AliExpress’
success. The mobile web is their core platform for discovery so they have focused its design and functionality since the beginning of AliExpress.

Aliexpress found it hard and expensive to get users to install the mobile app. Not every mobile user downloads the app; sometimes, they prefer to use the mobile website. Aliexpress realized that they need to improve their mobile site.

So AliExpress wanted to find a a way to provide all of their mobile site visitors with the benefits of their native app, such as fast performance and the ability to work offline and re-engage users. And they found it by building a cross-browser Progressive Web App (see https://m.aliexpress.com) to combine the best of their native mobile app with the broad reach of the web.

The rest is history. AliExpress became a huge success in recent years, and the AliExpress PWA was a major driver in this success. A few numbers (source: AliExpress) AliExpress saw conversion rates for new users increase by 104%. Conversion rates on Safari (mobile web) increasing by over 80%. Most importantly, the new strategy delivered a much better customer experience. This can be justified by the fact that users visit twice as many pages per session, a

PWA example: Alibaba

Building superior mobile experiences are essential to Alibaba.com's success. The mobile web is their central platform for discovery on mobile, so they've focused on design and functionality for a long time. They found it challenging to develop and offer a truly engaging experience for the mobile web, though. Alibaba.com then looked at the mobile web as a landing page to drive non-app users to the native app, but many preferred to stay within a browser.

Alibaba.com's international audience saw the idea to download an app to browse or complete a transaction as an unnecessary barrier compared to the quick, easy solution of browsing directly from their mobile browser.

Alibaba.com concluded they wanted to deliver an excellent user experience for both first-time visitors (to re-engage them) and repeat visitors (who are already familiar and more loyal to the website).

Alibaba.com, therefore, built a PWA that offered a blazing fast, practical, and reliable mobile web experience. Shortly after introducing the Alibaba PWA, they saw a 76 percent increase in total conversions across browsers. For mobile web users on Android, Alibaba.com came with features that helped users re-engage with the site. The company introduced an "Add to Home Screen" prompt, which resulted in users re-engaging four times more often than other mobile users. The numbers were in fact at least comparable to that of their native app. For push notifications, the results were similar: the open rate on the mobile web is the same as that on the native app.

The new strategy also delivered a much better user experience across platforms. The launch of Alibaba.com's PWA was the start of their international break-through.

Lessons learnt from these PWA examples

This post highlighted two of the best PWA examples from China. AliExpress and Alibaba.com got massive success with their PWA. The PWA fuelled their international growth in users and sales.

Given these two PWA examples, I dare to say Progressive Web Apps, or PWAs for short, offer the much-needed middle-ground between full-fledged native apps and mobile websites. They come when most mobile users are no longer willing to download any new apps, making it difficult for smaller and new businesses to get noticed.

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