Difference between off the shelf and bespoke software

Key Takeaways

  • Custom software offers tailored solutions that fit specific business needs but require a more considerable investment.
  • Off the shelf software is cost-effective and quick to implement, but it has limited scalability and customization.
  • Choosing custom software vs off the shelf needs careful consideration of the business’s requirements, budget, and growth plans.

With the growth of corporate data volume and process automation, deciding between off the shelf vs custom software becomes critical. It impacts your business efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

According to Grand View Research, the market size of tailored solutions (bespoke vs custom software is the same in this case) is expected to expand at a CAGR of 19.4% from 2022 to 2030. Fintech, retail, IT, and manufacturing sectors are the most active users of custom software. However, many companies prefer more cost-effective and available ready-made systems. So what to choose?

Off the shelf vs custom software

As an experienced custom software development company, Acropolium wants to share its knowledge about implementing tailor- and ready-made solutions. We will overview the difference between bespoke and off the shelf software and describe the main challenges. That will dot the i’s for you before choosing each option.

Whether you are a startup or an enterprise, read this article to get valuable insights and make the right choice.

In house vs Off the Shelf Software: Custom Option Overview

Custom-built software is created from scratch to meet the unique needs of a particular organization. Developers work closely with the company to understand its business processes, goals, and requirements.

Custom software examples include:

  • Walmart’s custom solution helps them manage supply chain, inventory, and logistics operations, speeding up order processing.
  • Delta Air Lines uses custom-built software for flight scheduling, crew management, and maintenance operations.

Benefits of custom software development

Benefits of Custom Software Development

Let’s discover the advantages of custom software that may be crucial for your business:

Scalability and Flexibility

Tailor made software can scale up or down depending on the organization’s changing needs. At the same time, the advantages of bespoke software include adapting to changing business requirements and conditions. A flexible platform allows the organization to modify or add new features and functionalities.

Competitive Advantage

Custom software helps organizations differentiate themselves by providing unique features and functionalities and developing innovative solutions. Also, you can create a more intuitive and user-friendly UI/UX that your employees and customers will enjoy.

Enhanced Efficiency

The advantages of tailor made software allow you to automate and streamline workflows, eliminating the need for manual data entry, paper-based processes, and other time-consuming tasks. In addition, personalized dashboards and reporting provide quick access to information and reduce the time required for onboarding new employees.

Long-Term Cost Savings

With custom built software, you can forget licensing fees or unnecessary features. Also, you’ll pay lower maintenance and support costs.

Bespoke Software Pros and Cons: Disadvantages Outline

In addition to the benefits of custom software, it also has some drawbacks:

Higher Initial Investment

It’s no secret that custom solutions are more expensive, so be ready to spend time and resources on all development stages. It is crucial to gather and document all the requirements and the project’s scope, as well as handle testing and quality assurance.

Resource Intensive

Building a custom software system requires a team of experienced developers, designers, and project managers who must work together. Also, you will need ongoing support and updates to guarantee that it continues to perform as expected and meets the organization’s evolving needs.

Potential Risks

Despite the advantages of custom written software, it can bring unforeseen challenges and issues during implementation, such as bugs or integration problems. They cause delays and increase the project’s cost.

Standard Software vs Custom Software: Off the Shelf Solution Overview

Off the shelf software is ready-made and available for any organization without customization or modification. Therefore, it is a good solution for small to medium-sized companies with standard requirements.

Off the shelf software examples include:

  • Salesforce Service Cloud helps businesses manage customer inquiries, support requests, and other service-related tasks.
  • With a web-based solution like Asana, you can improve project visibility, streamline communication, and automate routine tasks.

Custom software vs off the shelf

Off-the-Shelf Software Advantages

You should consider out of the shelf software if these pros are essential to your business:


Off-the-shelf products typically cost lower than custom solutions, as they are designed to be sold to many customers. Also, you don’t need specialized resources to build it from scratch.

Quick Implementation

Businesses can quickly purchase and implement the software and start using it as soon as it is installed. Off-the-shelf products come with pre-configured features and functionalities to meet your needs without configuration.

Established Support

Off the shelf application is typically developed and sold by large companies with a dedicated support team. Vendors regularly update and maintain their products so that you can benefit from bug fixes, performance improvements, and new features.

Lower Risk

Such products have an established user base and proven track record of success, as other businesses have already tested them. That’s why you can avoid common IT outsourcing pitfalls and ensure you use the software most effectively.

Disadvantages of Off the Shelf Solutions

Be careful as you may face these off the shelf system cons:

Lack of Customization

Off the shelf software may not perfectly align with your requirements, making you modify your processes to fit it rather than the other way around. And don’t forget about limited flexibility, pushing you to new software products or supplementing legacy ones with custom-built solutions.

Unnecessary Features

By including features irrelevant to a particular business, off the shelf solutions can increase costs, reduce productivity, and make the software more difficult to use — especially for new employees.

Vendor Dependency

Off the shelf solutions are typically updated and improved by the vendor, so you have little to no control over their timing or content. Also, if the developer decides to discontinue software support or change the pricing model, you may have few options other than switching to a different platform.

Limited Scalability

Before buying a ready-made solution, evaluate the market situation and your business ambitions. With off the shelf software, you get limited scalability that may not fit your company’s growing needs.

Off the Shelf Software vs Custom Software

We have prepared a comparison table outlining the key difference between off the shelf and bespoke software:

FeatureCustom Made SoftwareOff the Shelf Software
CostHigher initial investment but long-term cost savingsLower upfront costs but potential long-term licensing fees
Time to ImplementLonger development time, but tailored to specific needsFaster implementation, but may require customization or integration
ScalabilityFlexible and adaptable to business growth and changesLimited scalability and expansion beyond predefined limits
CustomizationHighly customizable to meet specific business needsLimited customization and may not perfectly align with unique requirements
Features and FunctionalityTailored features and functionalitiesReady-to-use features and functionalities
Support and MaintenanceOngoing support and updates may require dedicated personnelEstablished support team and regular updates provided by the vendor
Dependency from Third PartiesDependent on developer team availabilityReliance on the vendor’s direction and limitations

Challenges of Commercial Off the Shelf Software vs Custom Software

Off the shelf software vs custom software

Implementing in house software development vs off the shelf product comes with a set of challenges:

Integration with Existing Systems

  • Customized software may require integration with other systems to ensure seamless data flow between them. This can be a complex and time-consuming process, especially if the existing systems are outdated or not well-documented.
  • In contrast, off the shelf software may offer built-in integration capabilities, but they are only sometimes compatible with current platforms.

Security Concerns

  • Custom software applications are often designed with specific data security requirements, but their implementation may need more measures and rigorous solution testing. Also, it can be more susceptible to cyber-attacks if not developed with safety in mind.
  • Off the shelf solutions, on the other hand, have built-in security features but may fail to meet the company or industry standards.

Data Migration

  • Custom software development solutions require significant data migration efforts, especially if it is replacing legacy systems. This needs enough time and effort, as well as maintaining data integrity throughout the transfer.
  • Off the shelf software offers easier data migration options, but it may not always be fully compatible with the new system.

Other challenges for bespoke and off the shelf software include user adoption, vendor lock-in, and maintenance and support issues.

Off the Shelf Software vs Bespoke: Why Choose Custom Solution

Advantages of custom software

The advantages of custom software development may enrich businesses that need specialized solutions:

  • Tailored features. The software includes the exact features required by the business rather than forcing it to adapt to the functionality of an off the shelf solution.
  • Increased efficiency. Use one solution to streamline workflows, automate processes, and integrate with existing systems. Let employees benefit from custom made software advantages and focus on higher-value tasks.
  • Scalability. As the business evolves and needs change, the software can be modified to incorporate new features and functionality, supporting its existing operations.
  • Competitive advantage. Bespoke software benefits include a unique solution differentiating the company from its competitors.
  • Long-term cost savings. With a higher initial investment, custom solutions can result in reduced licensing fees, unnecessary features, and reliance on external software providers.

Why Choose Acropolium?

Acropolium is your trustworthy partner for custom software development with 19 years of experience in logistics, hospitality, healthcare, construction, risk management, fintech, etc.

Our benefits of tailor made software include the following:

  • Secured servers like AWS and Azure, HTTPS, and other security measures.
  • Cloud hosting, modern web app architecture, and reliable databases for scalability.
  • Compliance with GDPR, ISO, HIPAA, and other standards and regulations.
  • Cost-effective solutions that include using low-code and open-source technologies.
  • Advanced software with AI/ML, blockchain, IoT, payments, and video streaming.
  • Flexible pricing models, including a subscription-based model.

And here are examples of our ready-made projects showing custom software development advantages:

A real estate rental company approached us to develop hotel property management software. The custom solution helped reduce administrative costs by 40%, improve business operational efficiency by 37%, and increase bookings by 30%.

Benefits of custom software

A construction company operating in the B2B and B2C segments needed to automate manual processes. The benefits of bespoke software allowed us to place projects, hold tenders and purchases, reserve rental space, etc. As a result, the client automated 50% of manual processes and saved 40% of funds for administrative costs.

For a leasing business, we made software combining construction asset management and a CRM system. We improved sales cycle management, which reduced the deal cycle by 33%. The equipment maintenance schedule and reminders increased the number of transactions by 47%. We also updated the site, which increased conversion by 25%.

Bespoke software vs off the shelf

While developing the chatbot, our dedicated team joined the client’s internal staff. We optimized the back-end, modernized the front-end, and added new features. The advantages of custom built software allowed us to accelerate the integration process with end customers by 36%, increase revenue by 63%, and boost the client flow by 44%.

Our team was asked to develop kiosk software that would work in real time without crashes. Integrating third-party tools and providing video chat between pharmacists and clients was also important. The software increased profitability by 60%, customer loyalty by 54%, and sales by 47%.

Final Thoughts

The decision between custom development vs off the shelf software ultimately depends on your budget, timeline, and specific business requirements. A bespoke solution can fully satisfy your needs and offer a competitive advantage but can be more expensive and time-consuming. Off the shelf software is more affordable and quicker to implement but may not offer the same level of customization.

If you want to create a custom solution, Acropolium offers a subscription-based service that covers all common needs of a secure project at a monthly fee. Contact our team to get the benefits of bespoke software development.

Sources of Information