When it comes to mobile app development, you’ve got two choices. You can either go for an off-the-shelf solution or build your own bespoke app. But how do you choose between the two?
It depends on two things:
- The problem or challenge you’re looking to solve
- How much of a priority this project is for your business
This may sound strange for a leading app development agency to say… But a bespoke mobile app isn’t always the answer! If you’re looking for a quick-fix that meets your bare minimum requirements, then an off-the-shelf mobile app might be best for your business.
But if you’re looking for a solution that’s customisable, future-proof and gives you a competitive edge then there’s really only one solution: bespoke app development. In this article, we break down the three biggest problems with off-the-shelf apps. And why you should choose to build your app from the ground-up instead.
1. No Customisation
Let’s face it. With off-the-shelf apps, you’re playing in someone else’s sandbox. This is because, at the end of the day, it’s their product and not yours. How about that extra feature you know your staff would find super useful? Well, you’re more than welcome to add it to yet another ‘recommendation thread.’ But if it doesn’t align with their road-map, then tough luck.
The vast majority of off-the-shelf app developers will review those recommendation threads and ask one key question: “Will this bring in enough extra revenue to justify the resources it’ll take to develop?”
If the answer no, then you’ll get the dreaded copy-and-paste response: “Thanks for the feedback! While this isn’t a priority for us right now, we’ve passed this request on to our team for consideration.” Sound familiar?
Take a look at any largely used off-the-shelf business app and you’ll find pages upon pages of these feature request threads, often dating back years. But despite the clear need by many customers, these are often ignored.
At best, you might be able to pay out of pocket for a system ‘customisation.’ But at worst, you’ll be stuck using a frustrating workaround that impacts your employees’ efficiency as well as your bottom line.
2. Limited Integration
Some off-the-shelf solutions integrate with a select group of popular apps and software. But when it comes to that specific business tool or internal app you would love to integrate with your bespoke app, it’s likely there won’t be an easy integration.
Because of the sunk cost fallacy, many businesses get stuck paying through the nose to customise off-the-shelf apps. All this when it would have been more cost-effective and better to cut ties and go bespoke.
When you develop an app from the ground-up, you can make use of a wide range of APIs. Any good app development agency will also let you know upfront exactly what’s possible. Off-the-shelf products, on the other hand, are often guilty of claiming they can fix any problem. But in reality, they rarely do. And you end up working backwards trying to get a pre-packaged solution to work with your accompanying tool or legacy system.
Another one of the key problems with off-the-shelf apps is ownership. Even though off-the-shelf solutions are typically cheaper in the short term, the more upgrades or users you add the higher the cost usually becomes. Very quickly, you can reach a point where you’re paying a significant amount of money for your app. The problem? You don’t own it.
This way, one of off-the-shelf’s biggest benefits becomes its biggest disadvantage. You can’t modify it, copy it or re-sell it because it’s not yours. A bespoke business app has value to your business, it’s an asset. An off-the-shelf solution is just a subscription or a product.
Why Choose Bespoke Over Off-the-Shelf Apps
Off-the-shelf apps may seem like a good short-term fix. But as soon as you need to customise your custom business app, you will wish you went bespoke. It ticks every box:
✅ Completely custom built around your business needs.
✅ Built-in integration to your existing systems as well as any other business tools you need.
✅ A true competitive advantage that your competitors won’t be able to replicate.
✅ An asset for your business, not a subscription.