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Choosing a digital experience for a non-digital sector is a tough task.

If you work in a wholesale, distribution, multi-channel or trade counter environment, then your customers are probably used to walking into physical locations to place orders, or picking up the phone to call a friendly, named salesperson.

The leap from that environment to a digital one can be significant.

It is also a leap that is well worth making. ‘Traditional’ B2B businesses who embrace digital ordering typically see increased order values from their digital solution when compared to their offline method of order taking. This is, in part, due to the ability to run personalised digital promotions, to report on exactly what customers are looking for and how they use the digital ordering system and to support customers in a more traditional manner, through in-app chat and other tools.

But getting to that point can seem daunting and alongside all of the other questions there is one that frequently stands out: 

Do we need a digital ordering app or a mobile-optimised ecommerce website?

Web 3.0 and Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

The answer, happily, is that you ideally need both, packaged together into one bundle.

This is the solution created by PWAs; websites that behave like apps, or vice versa, depending on your preference.

To understand PWAs it’s worth a short trip through an ‘internet time machine’, which we covered in more detail here.

When the web first arrived we were all sitting at our desks to use it. 95-100% of web traffic was PC browser-based and, therefore, all websites were designed with desktop in mind. The experience of the web was computer-first.

Over time our internet usage habits changed and, whilst the technology available recognised this, it also struggled to keep up. Mobile optimised websites arrived, internet traffic gravitated to a 50/50 split between mobile devices and desktop, but the experiences on offer were never quite perfect. There was a noticeable difference between a mobile-optimised website that worked on your phone and a ‘good’ website.

Now the technology has caught up in the form of PWAs, which can live on your phone as an app and be navigated to via a desktop browser. 

If you’re using a mobile device you’ll notice no differences from any other app; tap it, add the items to your basket and click ‘checkout’. If you’re on your desktop your store will look like any other desktop ecommerce experience. Review your purchases and checkout with your mouse.