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Building an e-commerce app: custom VS ready-made

E-commerce applications getting more and more popular with each year. This can be connected to an online-shopping and its popularity over the last four years. If one day you woke up and saw the potential in the retail industry, or you have a shop and you decided to go online – we have just what you need. And no, it is not a promo material of cheap “pay for one get all” solution. It’s just a tip for you to have an easy-going work. 

Here are some statistics that prove e-commerce popularity. It shows growth in online sales by market volume from 2017 to 2024 and you can see the stable growth.

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Today, every more or less successful business has a shop in a marketplace, such as Amazon, Wix, or Shopify. But the more unique and interesting digital product is created by this or that company, the more chances it has to attract customers and gain a competitive advantage. But when it comes to choosing between custom and ready-made it is not so easy after all. 

In this article, we’ll look at the main differences between custom and ready-made e-commerce software. 

1.  Dependence from the software provider 

Custom: In this case, you will not depend on the developer company that created the software. It will be entirely yours, legally and practically; with that, you will have the opportunity to change it and add new features based on the wishes and needs of your target audience.

Besides, by purchasing a custom e-commerce solution from a trusted developer, you acquire a technical partnership in which the company will support your product and create new versions as needed, conducting technical development of the product, as well as market and competitor analysis (if your IT partner is business-oriented). 

If the developer company is bankrupt, you will have to look for a new technical partner to continue the work. 

Ready-made: You get software that is designed to meet the needs of most businesses similar to yours. It will not meet your individual needs, just as it is not fully owned by you, but is serviced by several companies and teams, so if your distributor goes bankrupt, you can continue to use it. 

In case of necessity to include in the software product a new function, nobody can carry out the analysis of productivity and to deduce the actual requirement of your business for innovation. Besides, each new feature will then be integrated by increasing your monthly fee. 

2. Speed

Custom: Developing a custom solution will take more time as it is a turnkey product from scratch. We are talking about a full-fledged product with unique functionality, so expect it to take up to several months to create. In some companies in this process the business analysis, creation of recommendations, and strategy is included. Product testing and prototyping are also part of the development. However, this allows you to think through more details in the software product that may later become critical to your project. Yes, this process takes a long time, but it can be broken down into stages; for example, launching MVP, MMV, MMF, making the product profitable before the project is finished. 

Ready-made: The finished solution is faster because you simply format it to suit your needs by selecting the functions already implemented. They are instantly implemented and intuitively understood by the user. At the same time, ready-made application designers can often be typical, which also repels customers, or work slowly. These solutions are quickly integrated, but cannot fully meet individual business needs, which can lead to errors and malfunctions. In the case of the purchase of ready-made software, it is not the software product that adapts to the business, but the product. And at the same time, nobody can guarantee a quality result. 

3. Pricing

Custom: A custom solution is more expensive at the creation stage, but later pays off more than that. Analyzing the experience of MassMedia Group clients, the payback of custom e-commerce solutions is $4 – $9 for 1 invested dollar by the end of the first year of the software operation. Cooperating with a reliable company, you get not only the development itself but also the support and development of the finished product. That’s why you don’t have to look for additional specialists, losing money. Besides, this approach allows you to integrate the software into your business, including staff training. And many developers have it all included in their original aesthetics, which removes the extra worry that something is working wrong or that there are problems in the software. Some companies even provide a warranty on their product. 

Also, custom software can be created in stages with short breaks at each stage. And a ready-to-use MVP will be bringing you profit while you think about new versions. 

Ready-made: A ready-made solution is cheaper at the stage of creation, but in the long term it can be even more expensive. Here you pay for instant results by getting a ready-made solution with the features you bought with it. But after integration, you will have to pay monthly fees for using the software, as well as pay extra for each added feature. This makes a ready-made solution more expensive in the long run. 

4. Solution Complexity

Custom: For businesses with unique needs, a custom e-commerce solution will be ideal. It will include only the necessary functionality, without unnecessary features, turning its strengths into competitive advantages and building differences from other businesses. Such a solution gives the chance to implement all design ideas and to make a product convenient for the user, receiving examination from the company – developer. In the market competition of e-commerce of applications, a unique and atypical solution becomes especially important. 

Ready-made: If your business does not have any specific requirements, a ready-made e-commerce solution will suit you. But they will be difficult to scale after implementation. 

No one can guarantee that a ready-made e-commerce app will fit your needs perfectly after the business growth or changes in strategy. 

5. Customization

Custom: The turnkey solution created from scratch is fully customizable from the smallest details to the integration of innovative technologies and other significant changes. In this case, its architecture and logic are laid down with the expectation of the next versions and development of the software product. 

Each change will take quite a long time to implement; for some development companies, further customization may cost additional money or you may have to look for additional experts (if your technical partner is not all-inclusive).

Ready-made: Most platforms offer customization, which varies in level of detail. Somewhere you can add an extra feature, or you just need to change the design, and somewhere you can create an application almost entirely tailored to your needs (only for open source solutions). 

In this case, you lose the benefits of ready-made solutions in terms of speed and cost. And if you don’t have a technical background, you’ll have to involve third-party developers for customization.

So, a custom or ready-made solution is a tough decision you have to make. Look at your business special features and fortes, then make your call based on it. 

If you think that your e-commerce application must have a competitive advantage and extraordinary features, and you want to disrupt the market – you need a custom solution. If you can do with a standard set of features – a ready-made solution is for you. However, if you are looking for an all-in-one solution, it is best to work with a technical partner