Maximize Customer Experience with a Progressive Web App and Mobile App

October 11, 2023

Are you confused about the difference between progressive web apps (PWAs) and mobile apps? Wondering which one is right for your business? Look no further! Watch our informative webinar where we will delve into the nuances of PWAs and mobile apps and explore the benefits of both to create the ultimate customer experience.




Dave Kuchenski, Vice President of Product: Hi, good afternoon everyone. Welcome to "Maximizing Customer Experience: the PWA and and the Mobile App." Everybody's joining right now, filtering in. So while we're doing that, let's go through some housekeeping quickly.

Alison Amira, Director of Product Marketing, Applications: Perfect. Go ahead to the next slide. All right, thanks Dave. So before we get started, just a few things to point out for how to communicate with us during the meeting. The chat button is currently disabled. If you have any questions, you can click the Q&A button at the bottom of your screen and then type your question. If you don't see the Q&A button, try clicking view options, then exit full screen, and this will put the webinar into a smaller window. If anyone has any technical difficulties, our team will be monitoring the Q&A button throughout the webinar. Just let them know there. We'll also have time for Q&A towards the end of the webinar, and we'll answer as many questions as we have time for. All of the questions and answers will be documented and sent out along with a recording at the end of the webinar or following the webinar. So if you have any questions and we don't get to them today, just know that we will follow up and get you those answers shortly.

So I think we can jump in now. Hopefully everybody is starting to filter in and we'll just start to roll through, given the timing. So let's jump in. Thank you everybody for joining today. We're really happy to have such great attendance. My name is Alison Amira. I'm the Director of Product Management overseeing applications here at DRB®. I've been with DRB for just under four years. I was initially in the customer marketing side of the Washify brand and have been in this role for just over a year. Prior to joining DRB, I have over a decade of experience in integrated marketing with a focus on high volume, fast-paced retail brands in the food and beverage industry. And it's really exciting to talk to you guys about mobile applications and different marketing applications today.

Dave: Thanks, Ali. I'm Dave Kuchenski, Vice President of Product here at DRB. I've been with DRB now for about five years with responsibility for Patheon during most of that time. Most of my experience in the past lies within software product management, corporate innovation and retail strategy, working with some of the largest retailers in the US. So, you know, today we want to talk about a little bit about progressive web applications, what makes them different from native applications. You know, so a progressive web application is really, you know, it's a single page application that runs in a web browser. It looks and feels like a native application. So a lot of the navigation, the way you click, the way it moves, feels very much like a native application versus a website.

The good thing is they work on any device, so they should adjust seamlessly to smartphones, tablets, desktops, but it allows you to really utilize this application on a variety of different devices with your consumers. And they can easily be shared via a URL. So it makes it a very efficient way for you to be able to share it, you know, either via text message, social media. You know, anywhere consumers really have access to the web, you can drive traffic, you know, to that application. PWAs prioritize performance, so they cache data in the background. So it ensures a smooth animation and minimal load times, which is really important when you start to think about abandonment and making sure that your consumers have a fast seamless interaction. So some examples of a retail progressive web application.

So these are are three, what we would consider kind of best of breed in the retail space. You've got, you know, first is Chipotle, you know, and Starbucks. They've driven frictionless consumer journeys and they have a very good strategy around, you know, when they capture a consumer to come in and put a single order, you know, for a burrito or for a coffee, you know, collecting that consumer information and then driving them into the native application to deliver a much more rich experience with the native app.

And we'll get to that in a little bit as Ali talks about Beacon Mobile. And then the last one we've put on this slide is Orangetheory, which is very similar to the car wash space because they're selling subscriptions and memberships. You know, Orangetheory significantly boosted their new subscriptions, especially in markets, running campaigns to target users doing like, you know, pre-sales for sites that are getting ready to open.

So that brings us to the Patheon Essential Web Application. For those that are using Patheon are familiar with this. For those that aren't, this is progressive web application that's built into Patheon. It gives your customers access to, you know, sell plans to purchase plans to sign up for the progressive wash experience, sorry, the pay-as-you-go wash experience, which allows you to basically take your vehicle, your credit card, and your preferred wash as a consumer. And we can utilize license plate or RFID to be able to recognize that consumer when they show up. Once we recognize that consumer in the lane, we will automatically bill their card.

And so it's really a frictionless type experience for pay-as-you-go type retail users, you know, versus coming in and having to interact with a kiosk or things like that. So, you know, really good experience that's digital first, you know, using the progressive web application. And then lastly, you can do things like, you know, see your gift cards or manage gift cards, sell gift cards, see your receipts, manage your plans, add additional vehicles to your plan. So there's a lot of really great functionality within the essential web application.

You know, but the end of the day, it's really intended to be kind of a quick frictionless transactional type experience. So some best practices around, you know, driving traffic to the EWA to really boost revenue and boost new sales. You know, we've seen a lot of our Patheon customers really have success with utilizing QR codes because it's just a web link to be able to use QR codes and either put it on a sign, you know, on location or handout flyers in the lane with a QR code behind it, potentially digital mailers where you can drive traffic. You know, being the fact that you don't have to download an application, it's really shortening the journey versus a native application where you know, you have to download, it takes time, create your account and do all those things.

With the EWA, you can really drive traffic quickly to the app and lower your abandonment rates and really drive traffic to those products that you're trying to push. Direct links are something we introduced this year in Patheon. So for each product that you create, you have a direct link and you can use that direct link as you see on the image there on the right hand side, you can use that direct link to really drive traffic to that specific product. So if a consumer clicks that link, which could be behind a QR code or something like that, but if they click that link, it will take them directly into the purchase flow for that specific product.

So it will bypass any product listings or things like that. So we've seen our members or seen our customers really have a lot of success building these links into their websites or potentially pushing products or plans that are strategic for them. So, you know, how can a PWA help help your car wash? So you know, really three places that a progressive web app shines, you know, it's driving organic traffic.

Because it's a web application, you know, it allows you to embed it into your website and, you know, optimize traffic using SEO. You get higher conversion rates because the journey is less friction because you're not downloading an application, you're going directly to the product and you know, really capturing those consumers quickly. You know, Google I think reported an increase in conversions by 52% at a lot of different retailers using progressive web apps. So, you know, conversion rates are, very good with progressive web applications. And then they can also boost brand awareness. So you know, through commerce kind of anywhere strategies, embedding progressive web apps into your social media, text and email campaigns, flyers, we talked about. You know, you can really boost your brand awareness without having to actually require users to download an app.

Alison: Okay, great. So Dave has obviously taken us through the significance of a progressive web app and the impact that it can have for your business. What I want to do now is take a step back and talk about a native mobile application. So before we get into our specific native mobile application at DRB, let's talk about what is a native mobile app. So a native mobile app is an application that's created specifically to be downloaded and live on your mobile device. Within this device, it will store all the necessary data that it needs to operate and integrate with other features on your phone. So for an example, an app may access your contacts, your microphone or your camera roll. It functions as a standalone program that's developed completely independently than a web-based software.

So think about when you access Facebook through the app on your phone, it's a different software than what you access when you're on your laptop. It might look and feel similar in a lot of ways, but throughout that experience, you'll notice some nuances between them. In addition, every application you use that you download and use is owning a percentage of the total data allotted on your device. So because of this, it can be handy to think of a mobile app like a piece of real estate. So although we might not overtly say it out loud to ourselves, before we download an app, we essentially ask ask ourselves, am I willing to invest in this application? And within a few seconds we make that decision. We've definitely all been there when you get prompted to download an app and you make that decision in a split second whether you want to download it or not. So that kind of begs the question, why do people download apps?

Well, the answer to this can depend on the industry and the benefit that the app provides to the user. So in the Facebook example that I just mentioned, we know that the primary benefit of social media apps is that they allow us to engage with our friends, brands and interests online in a variety of ways. But retail apps like Starbucks for example, allow us to make everyday purchases easier or skip the line in store and earn points for every dollar we spend through a loyalty program.

The consumer benefit will take on a different action and meaning depending on the space that the app is playing in. Okay, so when it comes to the carwash industry, this begs the question to any carwash owner, are my customers willing to download my app? And what we have found is that the answer is undeniably yes, but only if you're able to incentivize the customer to download and communicate the key benefits of the app that they are going to get upon downloading. So like I mentioned in the Starbucks example, what motivates most consumers to download their app is the ability to make purchases easier, earn loyalty points, and get messages or offers that matter to them.

So just like Starbucks, one of the great things about the car wash industry is that we offer a service that people use regularly or at least semi-regularly. So people are typically washing their car and expecting that in some time in the near future, they're going to need to wash their car again. It's not a one-time purchase. So the potential for someone to see value in having an app that makes washing faster and easier in addition to earning discounts or points is much higher than in another industry. One of the areas that's proven to be highly valuable to both consumers and operators is offering membership programs.

Customers have become accustomed to expecting an incredibly easy experience and when they don't receive that, they make that opinion known. This is why subscription memberships have seen such success in the car wash industry. They allow washers to get in and out fast for a great value. So where the app comes into play is the ease of managing that membership. Without a mobile application, if a member gets a new car or a new credit card, for example, they need to either visit the site, speak to an attendant to update their information, or remember to take the time to go to the computer or online and update that information.

With a mobile app, you can send push notifications to your customers to remind them to update their credit card, or if they're on their way to the wash and they want to change their information in the plan, they can very easily access it instantly through the app on their phone. According to Forbes, one of the biggest frustrations that customers have about subscriptions is having to jump through hoops to cancel their plan. With an app you can log in without having to remember a website URL, username or password and you can easily cancel or change plans.

This allows your members to easily navigate and manage their subscription, which can remove this pain point for both the consumer and saves your staff time. With Beacon Mobile, our premier native mobile application at DRB, we create custom native mobile applications for both tunnel and IBA car washes across the United States, Canada, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. And easy membership management is an essential feature to our customer experience. So moving on to the next slide, we're going to hit on some of those key features and functionalities that you get in a native mobile application that are differentiated than the progressive web app experience.

So with Beacon Mobile app, you can drive sales before a customer ever comes on site, whether it's membership, retail wash, gift cards, wash book, or C-store products, app users can make these purchases directly through the app and easily redeem on site. Once again, saving time and money for everyone involved. If you use a loyalty program, again, like Starbucks, you're familiar with a points-based loyalty program that rewards you with things like free drinks or snacks for all of the points that you purchase. That's essentially how the loyalty program works within Beacon Mobile as well.

So using the admin portal, you the carwash owner can set that architecture of your loyalty program so that you can easily define how many points your members earn for each in-app purchase. The more they spend, the more points they earn, and the more they can redeem for free at the wash. So messaging this to your customers through push notifications or marketing campaigns is a great way to drive customer loyalty and repeat visit.

Additionally, you can keep driving overall customer loyalty and engagement through a referral program and the custom in-app game where users can earn points for high scores. So through our gamification feature, you can even reward top players of the week with a free wash. So as you can see, we're really driving repeat usage and repeat visits, which is a big differentiator on a native mobile application versus a progressive web app. One of the best things about the Beacon app is that once your app is up and running, there's no need to go through customer support to make changes.

Everything is accessible and easy to manage through the admin portal, giving you the tools to drive your business forward. You can configure the home screen, change product descriptions, prices, activate the loyalty program, or manage push notifications all through the admin portal whenever you are ready. So Beacon even allows you to be site specific, so that allows you to set different prices or maybe different promotions depending on the site. And with that you can really do some great testing to see what performs well or better, you know, on one site than the next. All right, so how will a mobile app help my car wash? So there's a few major benefits that we've talked about today, but we want to ensure that we really hit on these four points.

So first, a mobile app ensures that you're providing a seamless customer experience for both members and retail washers. Downloading the app to manage a membership allows customers to quickly input that information and start washing. So this ensures you're providing the smoothest customer experience. So like Dave said in the beginning, on a progressive web app, you're able to really drive that immediate transaction, but from there, you can utilize the app to manage the membership and all of the further kind of experiences and journeys that the customer has.

And we'll go into the customer journey in a minute, but just wanted to differentiate between progressive web app there and native mobile app. For retail customers, using the app to make a purchase for a single wash or wash book allows them to get onsite, scan and redeem and ensures you're getting customers through the lane as fast as possible. So again, using a native mobile application is really going to help drive a really positive and seamless customer experience.

The second point that we wanted make sure we hit on is driving that repeat retail visit with a loyalty program and incentivize your customers to keep buying and earning points. So even with push notifications, you can message to your customer when they're five points away from earning their next reward. This keeps them engaged and making more purchases and rewarding them for that behavior. So I know we've talked a lot about membership management and the importance of that, but continuing to drive retail purchase from those customers who are not ready to become members or maybe never will become members, but continuing to have a great user experience for them and drive that repeat visit is hugely important. So next we want to continue to increase wallet and sales through customized push notifications and in-app offers that drive targeted promotions and upsell messages.

One of the best things about a mobile app is that you can utilize highly personalized offers and communications to drive sales, whether it's through push notifications or pop-up messages within the app, it's a great way to increase wallet and continue to message to your customers to get them either to upgrade their membership or continue to drive that retail purchase.

And lastly, using the app allows you to reduce churn with automated texts and push notifications, alerting a customer when their credit card has been declined. And if a customer goes to cancel their membership, we can serve them with a down sell popup offer to keep them washing for a reduced price. So there's a ton of great features that a mobile app has to offer, but these are definitely four main features that we want to make sure that we leave you with today. So we do want to talk about t he customer journey a little bit because we know that we've hit upon the importance of a progressive web app and a native mobile application and kind of what the differences are between them, but it's important to think about how they work together. So both of these tools are essential for driving conversions and interacting with your customers where they're spending the most time every day.

Remember that both of these touch points are best used at different stages in the customer journey and together provide a holistic customer experience. So often we get the question, you know, why a mobile application versus a progressive web app? And in an ideal situation, we're really utilizing both for different needs within the customer journey. So the PWA allows you to drive immediate action online. So for example, you're looking to increase membership sales through a social media campaign. When a customer clicks on that ad, rather than driving them to the app store to download your app and make a purchase, they can click through directly to your essential web app where they can make that purchase online right away. However, we know that apps are best used for managing memberships and driving continued engagement so it's critical that we ensure that when they sign up for their membership, we communicate to them the importance of downloading the app and we can immediately do that via text or email.

Once they download the app, they'll use the app to manage their account and we can then try to upsell them to the next level of membership, refer a friend or continue to earn loyalty points. So as you can see, both the Progressive Web app and Beacon Mobile app in this instance are essential for building out a holistic customer journey.

Okay, so that takes us to the question portion of our webinar. We definitely want to thank everyone for kind of talking this through with us and spending the time to learn about the difference between a progressive web app and a native mobile application. But let's open it up to questions to see if there's anything that we can touch upon that we haven't touched upon so far. So I will start to look through here. And okay, first question is, "When is Beacon Mobile available on Patheon?"

So we know that Beacon was acquired by DRB about a year and a half ago, and since we've made that acquisition, we've really prioritized integrating Beacon into our POS systems. So this is available for sale now. So Beacon will be integrated into Patheon. By the end of the year, we will be integrated to Patheon for both retail and membership integrations meaning that data will flow back and forth between your app and Patheon, so that you know, the app is not working agnostically or independently from the point of sale. So like I said, this is available now for sale and this integration will be completed by the end of this year. Let's see. What else? Okay, says, "Is the Patheon essential web app a progressive web app?" So Dave, do you want to kind of touch upon that a little bit more?

Dave: Yep. So yes, the Patheon Essential Web Application, that is the marketing name, it is a progressive web application and it is available now on Patheon.

Alison: Great. Thank you. Next question is, "Is it only available in SiteWatch?" So I'm not sure if this is referring to both Beacon or Progressive web app. So I can speak to the Beacon side of things. So Beacon does have a direct integration with SiteWatch today, so that does exist and that's absolutely available for sale if you are a SiteWatch customer. And then kind of to hit on the Patheon side of things, like I just mentioned, that integration will be completed by the end of this year. It's actively in development and in testing right now. So we're working through that integration. Dave, do you want to speak to the PWA side?

Dave: Yep. So the PWA is available only in Patheon. So it is a Patheon technology and it's built, it's very tightly integrated with Patheon.

Alison: Yeah. And then if you are a SiteWatch customer, there are e-commerce pages that can be utilized as well, but not all of the exact same functionality that Dave hit upon. Okay, "So which app do you recommend for e-commerce purchases?" So both the EWA and Beacon leverage different points of kind of the e-commerce journey. So when you're thinking about that immediate transaction where you're looking to convert a customer from an online promotion or kind of campaign that you're driving, that's when you're going to utilize that PWA, so that you have that immediate click-through.

In terms of e-commerce capabilities within Beacon, you can absolutely buy new memberships, update your memberships, add members to a plan within the Beacon app, as well as make all of your retail purchases, gift cards, single washes, wash books, et cetera, C-store products within the the Beacon app. So in terms of a recommendation, one or the other, I think it really comes back to that customer journey that we just talked about and where in that journey does that customer live. So really trying to utilize both applications to the best of their ability depending on that customer experience that you're looking to achieve. Anything Dave, you want to add to that?

Dave: Nope. No, but I think you hit it there. You know, we do have another question around "Do you support Canadian payment processors like Moneris?" So SiteWatch does not have support in Canada. Patheon does have support in Canada. We actually have quite a few washes in the Canadian market and we do support Moneris on both the EWA and Patheon as well as Beacon.

Alison: Yeah, Beacon we are finalizing the Moneris integration. It is on the roadmap for the near future so that is absolutely something that will be achieved shortly. Our current payment processor is typically CardConnect or Stripe in lieu of CardConnect, but Moneris is one that we are looking to add in Q4 to Q1.

Dave: We also have another question around what reports are available. So I'll go ahead and take that from the Patheon side and then let Ali speak to Beacon. So from the Patheon side, we have dashboards that are available that show you purchases by product, you know, what purchases were made, whether it be a plan or single washes, you can drill down to the consumer level to actually see what consumers are buying what products.

Additionally we have Google Insights, or sorry, Google Analytics built in so you can add your Google Analytics tag within the Patheon portal and you'll get all of the data around, you know, where consumers are using the essential web application, what products they're purchasing, where they're abandoning, you know, potentially in the workflow. So you get really good insights into how customers are using that essential web application.

Alison: Great. Yeah, and then on the Beacon side, there are a ton of reports that are available within the admin portal. So the admin portal is really where you manage your Beacon app after you've gone through the implementation process. So that's where you can continuously update different elements within the app and have it sync right there.

So there is a reporting section within there that has a ton of reports based on in-app usage, push notification delivery, revenue reports, usage within different areas of the app as well as gamification so seeing kind of the top members for the week usage based on on site specific data. So there's a lot that's available there and we can follow up with kind of a more robust list and after the fact, but there's definitely a ton of data that we provide to our customers as well as potentially customer reports that, you know, that might be valuable to you that are not canned as part of the preset reporting.

Dave: Yep. And the last question I see on here. "So where's the revenue for a digital purchase or an e-commerce purchase allocated for Beacon and the EWA?" So this is probably a question that kind of refers to, I know SiteWatch and MobileConnect. You know, typically there's a digital location or an e-commerce location where all the revenue flows to that specific site. Within the EWA, when you purchase an e-commerce transaction, the consumer actually selects a default location and then all the revenue flows to the default location for that consumer. So very much like you'd experience at, you know, an online retailer, a Home Depot, Lowe's, things like that. All the retail revenue is flowing to that specific physical location and not just a bucket of an e-commerce location.

Alison: Yeah, same thing on the Beacon side. The customer is selecting a location when they create an account based on, you know, where they are most likely to make their purchases or where they're going to redeem their purchases and it's tied to that. One other question that I wanted to hit upon. So you know, "Is Beacon a completely customized app for my car wash?" So yes, when we talk about Beacon Mobile, that is just the product name, but Beacon is essentially creating a custom app that looks and feels completely cohesive to your car wash and your brand. It does not look the same as every other app on the app store.

We really work with you to make that a unique experience for your car wash and kind of finalize those creative assets on the front end so that it is really custom to your car wash. So absolutely it is. You know, it's under your brand name on the app store and, you know, you have complete ownership. The end user does not know who DRB or Beacon is. Everything is under your car wash name. All right, so I do think that that takes us through all of the questions that we currently have.

I do see someone has a question in terms of implementation and I can absolutely follow up specifically with your question with the implementation team and have them get back to you. So thank you for sending that here and I'll make sure that somebody reaches out shortly. And again, like I said, if there's any other questions that pop up that we have not touched upon today or anything that you think of after the fact, you know, please feel free to scan this barcode. We will absolutely get to all of those answers and, you know, send everything directly to this group so that you have access to all that information and definitely don't hesitate to reach out if anything comes up after the fact. Somebody did just ask how long does it take to set up. Dave, do you want to respond in terms of the quickness of the EWA?

Dave: Yeah, so for the EWA, we can set up an EWA location very quickly and actually our customers can can do it as well as long as it's enabled within the application. It's very quick to kind of, you know, upload a logo, a background, publish products and pricing and discount to the application so it's very much self-serve. So it's a very quick timeframe for the essential web application. Beacon Mobile is more of a custom application, so there's more of a schedule and kind of, you know, time to configure and publish to the app stores. But for the essential web application, we can get it out there very quickly. And then the Beacon mobile app, typically the lead times aren't too long on that.

Alison: Yes. Yep, exactly. The EWA, like Dave said is a much faster turnaround time. It does not require as much kind of development as well as approval from the app stores, for example, that can take a little bit of time, but we are working to get that as fast as possible to get up and running for our customers. So we are looking to kind of minimize the amount of time it takes to get a mobile app, but EWA is a really fast solution that you can get up and live in a very short period of time. And then I do see one more question in terms of, "Do the PWA and app work with non Patreon customers?"

So, you know, they both work for both retail and membership customers. So in terms of being able to message and communicate and drive sale on the retail side and the membership side, absolutely they both have very strong capabilities there and like I said, the difference between really the intention behind the PWA versus the native mobile app is to drive that immediate transaction and then utilize the mobile app for that continued engagement, continued retail purchase, you know, engagement, referral, loyalty points, et cetera. So very much have a lot of tools and capabilities that help drive the retail side of the business in addition to the membership side. Wonderful. Well, thank you. Thank you so much everybody for joining today. We will follow up with anything that we have not touched upon as mentioned. And yeah, we really appreciate the time and hope to hear from everyone soon.

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