Driving Cross-Device B2B Commerce with Inter Cars' New Apps
A single solution for mobile Internet users and app users
The PWA (Progressive Web Applications) and TWA (Trusted Web Activity) technologies allowed Inter Cars to meet the needs of mobile device users: both those who use the system in a smartphone browser and those who prefer to download an application.
Currently, the Inter Cars B2B e-commerce platform works as a native application and can be downloaded from Google Play or used conveniently in a browser. The technologies we mentioned shortened the duration of the project and reduced its costs.
About Inter Cars
Inter Cars is the largest distributor of spare parts for passenger cars, vans and trucks in Central and Eastern Europe. The company also offers workshop equipment, such as car servicing and repair equipment as well as motorcycle and tuning parts.
Inter Cars is also an industry leader in the use of new technologies. The company’s B2B e-commerce platform, built by e-point, was designed with mobile device users in mind from the very beginning, in accordance with the RWD idea. It was then only natural to adjust the platform to the PWA standard and to use TWA.
Business need: comprehensive development of the mobile channel
The aim of the project was to fully utilise the mobile channel. The idea was to provide a solution both for those users who prefer to use the browser and for those who are happy to download applications. The platform was supposed to offer a consistent look and full functionality to both of these user groups. The new solution was supposed to cover all thirteen countries in which the discussed version of the B2B e-commerce platform is operating.
Solution: PWA and TWA as an alternative to a native application
Inter Cars considered creating a native Android application. However, we found another solution that accomplishes the assumed goal faster and cheaper. Instead of building a new application, we decided to use the growing potential of web technologies and expand the existing system with elements that explore the possibilities of mobile solutions. What does this mean in practice? We adjusted the existing system to the PWA standard, and then containerised it with the Trusted Web Activity component in order to add it to the Google Play store.
Progressive Web Applications (PWA)
Trusted Web Activities
Is a technology developed by Google that allows you to “wrap” websites in the PWA (Progressive Web Application) standard as Android applications. In other words, it's a lightweight “PWA container”. A TWA application is indistinguishable from native applications and can be found in the Google Play store.
First step: PWA
We had to prepare configuration files (PWA manifests) for eleven countries to adapt the platform to the PWA standard.
In practice, this means we had to:
TWA: applications for thirteen countries in Google Play
The next step was to “wrap” the platform developed in the PWA standard as a TWA application that could be published in Google Play. As a result, launching the installed application on Android opens a full screen of the Chrome browser, with its interface (including the URL bar) hidden.
TWA also protects the displayed page from being read or modified by an external application (browser).
On the other hand, the use of TWA presented a challenge related to SSO. When a customer signs into the platform, they are redirected to a common authentication and authorisation system. Certain changes to the SSO mechanism had to be made before it started working with TWA.
Given the current possibilities of web technologies, developing and maintaining dedicated native applications is not the best solution in many cases. The business needs of mobile users can also be satisfied with PWA and TWA. The example of Inter Cars shows that PWA and TWA allow us to deliver applications faster and cheaper. At the same time, they are just as convenient and intuitive as mobile applications. This solution makes system expansion easier. As a result, the application has been adapted to the requirements of individual markets and brought to the Google Play store in several countries.