Off the Shelf Product Vs. Custom Application Development

Whether to go for an off-the-shelf product, which is ready-to-use (and perhaps a plug-and-play solution), or a custom application development, which will demand investment, take time to shape but tailored to your needs? 

Almost every business, especially startups and SMEs with various constraints, confronts this question at some point. So, which one is a better choice? Is there a generic answer to this question, or should business owners take a situation-based call? Let’s find out.

What is an Off-the-Shelf Product?

An off-the-shelf software application is a readymade product ready to go out of the box. It is available to everyone and includes various features, out of which some or perhaps, all will be useful for a particular business. They aren’t tailored to a particular business’s needs. Hence, they follow the one-size-fits-all approach. 

Some common examples of off-the-shelf software applications include CRM, accounting applications, email services, operating systems, etc.

What is a Custom Application?

Bespoke application is a broad area and the default norm these days. Every business is unique, and hence comes with varying needs. So, using an off-the-shelf product seldom works. Businesses use custom application development to build software solutions aligned with their workflows. The tailored software application requires partnering with a custom software application development company to develop the solution.

Pros and Cons of Off-the-Shelf Products

Let’s look at some pros and cons of off-the-shelf products.

Pros of Off-the-Shelf Products

  • Readymade
  • Much more cost-effective than bespoke software
  • Save time and effort
  • Have user communities for assistance and guidance
  • Tested and proven solutions
  • Have a name and reputation in the market
  • Comprehensive enough to meet various business needs

Cons of Off-the-Shelf Products

  • It cannot be customized, or customization could be expensive
  • Some features and functionalities may be useless for a particular business
  • Slower to adapt to the changing industry needs
  • Updates and upgrades are controlled by the application’s makers

Pros and Cons of Custom Applications

Here are some advantages and disadvantages of tailored applications

Pros of Custom Applications

  • Highly customizable
  • Ownership remains with the client company
  • Greater scalability
  • A higher degree of security
  • Upgrades, updates, and changes are quick and more straightforward
  • Integration of customized features and functionalities
  • More aligned with business needs

Cons of Custom Applications

  • A high initial investment involved
  • Risk of a misaligned final product
  • Requires time to be developed
  • Not tested for all business cases
  • Problems are discovered by the user
  • Absence of community support

Off-the-Shelf vs. Custom Application Development – What Should I Choose?

So, we now come to the main question – off-the-shelf vs. custom application development – what to choose? Honestly, we will suggest you go for a custom application. Of course, we’ve listed the pros of custom applications. Yes. It also requires time and money to develop. But business matters more than everything else! 

So, suppose you are looking for an app synchronized with your business needs and objectives and a higher return on investment. In that case, a custom application is an option to choose from. 

But wait. Don’t rush to make a decision. Custom software applications may not necessarily be the right option. Off-the-shelf products work when you are fine with standard features, the business operation associated with the application isn’t as critical or requires customized functionalities, you don’t have time or the financial muscle to invest in a customized application, or you don’t need a custom software at the moment.

Nevertheless, if you are sure about your choice and need a custom application tailored to your needs, partner with Techcedence, one of the leading custom application development companies. Our extensive portfolio comprises bespoke app development for multiple domains. We develop applications after a thorough discussion of your business needs and objectives. Our support involves everything from conceptualization to maintenance and technical support.

Thus, choose Techcedence if you are looking for higher RoI on your investments and a tailored application stitched to your needs. Email us at to learn more about our custom application development services.


Custom Software or Off the Shelf – Decide what is right for you

Deciding between custom software and off the shelf software is a key business decision for any organization. Each option has its own merits and drawbacks. You have to weigh them carefully before deciding what is beneficial for your business.

Off the shelf

An Off the shelf (or bespoke) software refers to products that are readily available in the market. It comes handy and requires less set up time. They are designed for a broader audience so they will have numerous features all of which might not be useful to your business. The off the shelf product may not have certain functionalities that your business demands. Some vendors provide options to customize the product based on your requirements.


  • Quick set up – can be implemented straight away
  • Free trials – you can try them for free
  • Discussion forum – you can get answers from user forums for queries
  • Low upfront cost – initial set up cost is low
  • Regular upgrades available


  • License cost – you have to buy the product
  • High maintenance cost – upgrades, changes, and support comes with additional cost
  • Ownership – you don’t own the source code
  • Lacks Scalability – it is not easy to modify the product
  • Missing features – it may not have all elements required by your business
  • Compatibility issue – it might conflict with your current system

Custom software

Be it a shoe or a dress we all know one size doesn’t fit all. An off the shelf software might be readily available but it might not help your business plan in the long run. Custom software is designed exactly to match your requirements and overcomes the shortcomings of an off the shelf product. It might come with a higher initial cost but it requires no license and upgradation is easy as you own the source code.  Most of the custom applications are user-friendly as they don’t have redundant functionalities. A well-built custom application can be better than any commercial off the shelf product.


  • Tailor-made – customized for your business
  • Ownership – you get ownership of the product
  • Expandable – flexible, can scale up with changing needs of your business
  • Maintenance and support – easy to get technical assistance from the development team
  • Secured – security aspects of the application can be designed to your choice
  • Integration – easier to integrate with other systems
  • An advantage over your competitors who use same off the shelf product


  • Cost – Higher initial cost as it is done exclusively for you but has a long term gain
  • Time – It definitely takes time to build custom software.

The risk involved in building a custom software might be addressed by choosing an organization who has ample expertise in developing custom applications. Weighing the pros and cons and keeping your long term business goal in mind decide on the right option.

Get in touch with us for any questions you may have regarding custom software development.