If you’re a business looking to improve your existing mobile app or introduce one into your organisation, chances are you’re reading this article as part of your initial research. And as for any research its vital that you consider all of your available options so that you select a product that is right for you, and caters to your businesses requirements. So do you go for a bespoke vs off-the-shelf mobile apps.

When it comes to mobile app development we frequently get asked what is more beneficial for businesses, creating a bespoke mobile app or opting for an off-the-shelf product?

Our response is always the same; it depends entirely on the size and complexity of your main business goal. Smaller, more simple business tasks where the requirement is very specific, such as calendar management or task tracking, are often solved with off-the-shelf products. Whereas more complex business objectives which require more data collection, in-depth analysis and various features, such as improving employee engagement, or streamlining the delivery service, are better answered with a bespoke app.

Although off-the-shelf apps may seem more appealing initially, many consider them as a short-term solution to a long-term business problem.

The most significant difference between the two is that off-the-shelf apps are pre-created around a single requirement and manufactured for the masses, as opposed to bespoke software that allows businesses to build a solution to address their specific needs. These business needs may vary from improving employee engagement (as above), managing internal accounts, streamlining processes or enhancing departmental collaboration.

Although off-the-shelf apps may seem more appealing due to their initial cost, many consider them as a short-term solution to a long-term business problem or use them to test the waters. Bespoke mobile apps on the other hand are custom built to future proof a business, whatever the need, and can adapt accordingly with changes in the company.

To discuss your businesses’ approach to Mobile App Development, speak to our experts today.

Whilst contemplating between bespoke vs off-the-shelf mobile apps there’s three factors you should consider; flexibilitycost and support & guidance. And here’s how bespoke and off-the-shelf mobile apps can assist with all three:


In any enterprise mobile app flexibility is key. It allows you to be creative with your app, adapt when your needs change and scale when your business grows, without affecting the overall user experience (UX). You’ll also need to think about how much control you’d like over the design, usability and content of the app:

  • Off-the-shelf apps are quick to install solutions for businesses seeking an instant solution to an existing business need. They come pre-packed with limited, non-negotiable features but will have proven test cases for multiple businesses.
  • Bespoke apps may take more time to build, but they can solve both existing and future business needs. Businesses have full control over their app’s features, it’s completely custom built.  You have full ownership of the apps content, design and functions from start to finish. They can also be fully integrated with existing internal systems, and scaled accordingly with business growth or downsizing. 

Bespoke vs off-the-shelf mobile apps comes down to flexibility on features vs cost of deployment.


At the end of the day, cost is the biggest driver in choosing your app development path. Therefore it’s important that you have a clear list of requirements. This will help you select a product that is cost-efficient for your needs:

  • Off-the-shelf apps are initially cheaper to deploy with either a one off upfront cost or a pre-set monthly license fee. However as time progresses additional costs can accumulate. With extra development and higher licensing brackets when distributing the app to more employees. This could limit the number of employees you can have using the app.
  • Bespoke apps are likely to have a larger initial investment but there are no big ongoing license fees. Your app can be distributed to as many users as required. This also means that if you’re working with an agency like Sonin, you own the IP. This means that you own your app, including its source code, designs and content.

Support & Guidance

Receiving support and guidance during and after your app development is vital. It’s how you receive constructive advice on best practises throughout the development phase:

  • Off-the-shelf apps are created by vendors that have tried and tested their app within multiple companies already, however may not provide development support when integrating the app into your own systems. Off the shelf apps can also be used by anyone, including competitors.
  • Bespoke apps are created by an agency who will have much more experience in integrating apps into different companies and can provide you with the guidance you need to make your app work. Even if they’re working with clients in the same industry, they’ll create you a unique product tailored exactly to your businesses needs and requirements that puts you above your competitors.

The bespoke vs off-the-shelf mobile apps debate is an ongoing one. So it’s important that you understand the importance of creating a mobile app that is right for your business. Although cost will be the key deciding factor, this shouldn’t dictate the quality or feature set of the end product.

Whichever solution you’re looking at, you should approach your mobile strategy as an ongoing project. An ongoing project to solve your current needs and future-proof your business. Keep an open mind, and choose something that answers your needs. Alternatively, you might already have an app but it wasn’t as successful as you were hoping. Assess the reasons why it wasn’t, and look into the possibility of doing something different.

During an era where enterprise mobility is thriving, understanding how mobile can transform your business has never been so important.

Want to know more about bespoke vs. off-the-shelf mobile apps?

Here at Sonin we specialise in developing bespoke apps. Creating more flexible, reliable and cost-efficient solutions to transform our clients businesses. But we understand a bespoke app isn’t for everyone. So if you’d like more information or some further guidance, we’ll be happy to discuss your plans with you.

Contact us via email, or talk to us now via LiveChat on the bottom right hand side of your screen.

Join our webinar

If you’d like to know more about successfully adopting enterprise mobility into the workplace, then listen to our Managing Director Paul Jarrett on the webinar ‘Enterprise Mobility and Security: Beyond BYOD‘. Available to listen to on demand now.