How eCommerce companies can stay ahead of the competition May 31, 2018 RIC Centre For years, only the Walmarts and McDonalds of the eCommerce world developed native mobile apps while smaller, less-profitable players resorted to traditional web-only mediums. But now, Expancio is rapidly changing the eCommerce game. Launched by Peter Zheng in 2018, Expancio is a software as a service (SaaS) platform that allows businesses to create webapps, a new form of technology that combines the best features of websites and native, mobile apps. Zheng and his team at Expancio collaborate with companies ranging from retail to restaurants, allowing them to create their own webapps and design their own content to effectively engage both web and mobile users. The team also aids with webapp setup, data and content migration, registering free and paid business domains while upgrading traditional websites into professional, yet production cost-friendly webapps. Expancio’s ingenuity lies in its adoption of the newest generation of eCommerce technology—Progressive Web Apps. What are progressive web apps? Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are web applications that take the advantage of the easy accessibility of websites but run and function like a native, mobile application. To load a PWA on mobile devices, consumers simply run a company’s website and save it to their home screen. With PWAs, “businesses don’t need to develop downloadable native apps separate from their respective websites,” says Zheng. For instance, Starbucks recently replaced their native mobile app with a Progressive Web version. Now, the coffee giant no longer requires customers to download a native app for their menus and reward services. Instead, consumers perform a one-time visit to the Starbucks mobile website and save it into a clean, and seamless application form on their mobile. And, just like traditional native apps, businesses can configure PWAs to enable push notifications to consumer mobile devices. So, customers won’t need to worry about missing any new Frappuccino promotions. How are PWAs better than traditional mobile apps? While to businesses and consumers, PWAs appear and function like traditional native apps, the underlying tech specifics are anything but so. PWA’s greatest benefit is they allow companies to model their services in app format without the incurring costs of traditional native app development. “Traditional native apps provide better navigation and engagement for consumers but with immense costs to develop,” admits Zheng. “Mobile websites are much cheaper but are less user-friendly with no user-interaction abilities on mobile devices…” “PWAs combine the best of both worlds—allowing companies to model their services in a sleek, professional app format, without the incurring costs of traditional native app development.” Since PWAs are web-based, they require virtually no disk space on mobile devices. This extra space overcomes hurdles of consumer disengagement, as 59% of eCommerce shoppers oppose downloading more apps for their storage limitations. By lowering data usage, PWAs also accelerate the processing speed of data on the apps—delivering faster and more reliable content to engage mobile consumers. Zheng labels the mobile application industry, and PWAs specifically, “as areas necessary for owners to engage clients and grow their businesses.” Google jumps on the PWA train Nearly seven months after Expancio launched, tech innovators at this month’s Google I/O conference are echoing Zheng’s sentiments. More and more industry leaders have jumped on board the PWA train, praising the technology as the next generation of SaaS platforms and mobile eCommerce. Meanwhile, Zheng and Expancio, are sitting in the conductor’s seat. RIC Centre guides Expancio’s growth The potential of Expancio is inspiring for the RIC Centre Incubator Program, whose team of professional advisors have worked closely with Zheng to solidify his value proposition and guide the company’s messaging. The Incubator Program is a unique six-month opportunity in which start-up entrepreneurs partner with RIC advisors to successfully bring their innovations to market. Working alongside Zheng in the Incubator Program, Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Paul Barter recognizes the enormous potential of Expancio and PWAs. He said, “Expancio is an early-adopter of differentiated new technology—one that’s primed to become the standard.” — The RIC Centre is currently welcoming new startup applicants for our Incubator Program, with 2018 summer submission deadlines set for July 3. Learn more and apply here.