Custom Vs 'Off The Shelf' Software

July 20, 2021
5 min

Custom Software Vs 'Off The Shelf'

You’re at a fork in the road. Should you subscribe to an ‘Off the shelf’ software product, or do you pay a company to produce a custom solution for you? You might have an idea for your startup. Perhaps you need a software product to face your customers and improve their experience and contact with you. Or you may just need something in house to keep track of things, automate processes and speed things up. In any case, you will face this question at some point!

When I say ‘Off the shelf’ I mean any software product / service that is already built. You sign up, enter your payment info and start using it. 

‘Custom’ means any software product that you pay to have developed, you own it. It’s yours forever.

So the question remains, which is the best option for YOU? My hope in writing this article, is that you will understand the pros and cons of each option and be informed to answer that question for yourself. 

Let’s break it down:

Custom Software Pros

  • The custom software is just that, it’s ‘custom’. It can be whatever you need or want it to be. It can do anything you want it to do. There is no such thing as ‘nice to have’. When it comes to custom, it’s just ‘haves’. 
  • Built to scale. A custom solution doesn’t have bronze, silver and gold and then platinum plans. It’s ready to go. As many users as you need.
  • Custom software is a massive money saver. It saves time and can quickly process and accomplish tasks that would take staff much longer to accomplish. Not only that, since it is yours, you can sell it as an ‘Off the shelf’ product to your competitors and have them paying you monthly!
  • It can integrate with anything! It can be the bridge between customers, social media, banks, accounting, your CRM and so much more. Seriously it can connect with any other platforms API. 
  • Since it’s yours, you can make adjustments and add features as soon as you like. No need to wait.
  • It can give you a massive competitive advantage over your competition. If you have a solution that makes the lives of your customers easier and better, they will pick you over other companies. 
  • Custom software when built right is an incredible asset to your business. The equity of your business spikes! 

Custom Software Cons

  • It’s more money up front. You need to pay for it out of the gate. Sure it will save you so much more than an ongoing subscription but you still need the cash at the start of the process. 
  • You could hire the wrong development company. The saying ‘buy cheap, buy twice’ is never truer when it comes to getting custom software made. If you hire the wrong company to develop your software, you’ll be cursing them for as long as you try to use the bug filled product. You could be tied to them with no options. 
  • New software always goes through a teething process. You may have forgotten something that you really need, or there may be something that doesn’t work exactly the way you imagined it would. 
  • Custom software won’t be ready to go today. It takes time to build your custom solution from scratch. 

Off The Shelf Pros

  • You can get started today. Having said that, depending on the software that isn’t entirely true. Plenty of ‘off the shelf’ products have days of configuration in order to use them.
  • Cheap initially. This month will be cheaper than paying for a custom software solution to be developed. 
  • Can be pretty sure it works. Usually ‘off the shelf’ products have already gone through the teething stage because they have been used so long by many others. 
  • If you’re facing issues, often you can look online and find others in the community also using the product and may be able to help you. 

Off the shelf cons

  • More expensive down the track. Sure it’s cheap initially. But as months roll into years, you’ll take a look at your bank statements and realise you’ve paid someone a lot more than a custom solution would have cost you.
  • Most the time ‘off the shelf’ products only provide you with a partial solution to your problem. Your business is unique and the product wasn’t designed or built for you specifically. So you’ll need to endure ongoing headaches while using it.
  • Oft times the product will have heaps of features you don’t need or want. Whether you use them or not you are still paying for these annoying extra features.
  • You can’t change it. Some products have a feature request where you can ask for things. You need to remember, you are just a small fish in someone else’s pond. They will make the changes if it suits them and their business, not yours. 
  • When they do update the product, changes come slowly. Bugs take months to be removed. Everything is a slow turning wheel when you have no control over it. 
  • You may experience compatibility issues. In the days of the internet this is not really an issue since most software products are web apps and only require a browser to work. But if you had to install it to your local machine then operating systems and OS versions can cause compatibility nightmares for your business. Worked yesterday but not today. 


There you have it. For almost every situation a custom software solution is the best decision you can make. Custom software is an investment that pays you back much more than it costs. Cost wise it’s cheaper than an ‘off the shelf’ down the track anyway. Play the long game. 

Ask yourself this. Do you want the software you use to be adjusted to your business or do you want to adjust your business to align with someone else’s software?

Read on if you want to know how we flip every single ‘Custom Software Con’ into a pro for you!

What makes us better:

  • It’s more money up front: Money back guarantee! Not only that but we will help you form a minimum viable product (MVP) to help you get to market faster and cheaper!
  • Hiring the wrong development company. If you don’t love it, we work for free. Not only that but you are not locked into working with us long term. We build all of our projects in the most supported and popular coding languages. Whether you hire an in house developer down the track, or find another software company to maintain your product. They will easily be able to modify it. 
  • New software teething process: We give you 12 months warranty. This guarantees you’ll make it through the beginning stage drama free!
  • Long time to build: We set a ‘go live’ date and will always finish early. If we ever run over, we will refund you $500 every day we are late!

We’re the best in the business! Are you ready for lightning to strike?

Let’s get started. See my absolutely insane offer below!

by Kirk Rogers

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