What are the benefits of bespoke e-commerce vs off-the-shelf?

Bespoke Software Development, Bespoke e-CommerceAppdrawn Team | Published 25th November 2022
Personalisation is for businesses, not just for consumers. We unpack the pros and cons.

Thanks to developments in e-commerce software, vendors can sell – and consumers can buy – more, easier and faster. Mass market solutions have helped enable this, but in many instances a customised approach is needed to support scale, innovation and a shift to online services.

The term ‘personalisation’ has been present in e-commerce for years, and it seems the buzzword has no intention of budging any time soon. According to a 2021 report from analyst house McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions. Examples include marketing emails with customised offers, websites that adapt to an individual customer’s behaviour or apps that send push notifications based on location.

The aims are to streamline the customer journey, reduce friction between different touchpoints and ultimately boost sales and loyalty. More than half of respondents to another recent report believe that custom touchpoints can help them find products faster, and 28% are more likely to purchase a product they didn’t intend to buy at first.

Improving personalisation in e-commerce keeps customers happy – and makes retailers and marketer even more so. Take email marketing, for instance: according to one finding, marketers found a massive 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.

Personalisation means personalised software

Personalisation will remain a key concept in e-commerce for the foreseeable future. This is good news to those yet to embark on a personalisation strategy, while providing fuel to the motivational fire for the those looking to up their game in the market.

The foundation of any personalisation strategy is the e-commerce technology that a website, customer application and back-end business software systems are built on. Many companies selling online opt for off-the-shelf e-commerce software. These products are pre-configured in terms of feature-set and work ‘out of the box’, meaning retailers can expect quick installation and launch times. These are a good fit for many companies selling products – as opposed to services – online.

However, while consumers will continue to go online to purchase products, there has been a marked shift toward online services. Many of us now rely on apps and websites for food delivery, media and entertainment, fitness, travel and leisure, dating, and more. These ‘e-services’ are often subscription-based, helping companies to build recurring revenues and move away from the traditional transactional model of selling.

As with product purchases, apps and services use customer data and insights to personalise the experience. Again, this is possible thanks to the foundation of bespoke software which is customised to the needs of the company.

The benefits of going bespoke

Customised software = customised user experiences. But that’s not all. There are a number of other reasons why companies selling online pick bespoke e-commerce technology. Here’s our round-up:

Selling complex service offerings

Bespoke e-commerce allows for selling custom services that can’t be configured or purchased via an off-the shelf e-commerce platform.

Some business models translate well into an ‘online store’ mechanism, some need a more tailored approach that only bespoke can offer.

Custom integrations

Off-the-shelf software comes with pre-installed features and is designed to meet the basic needs of as many users as possible. As such, while there may be a lot of features available, it’s unlikely that all of these will be relevant for all apps and websites. Similarly, off-the-shelf software will facilitate integrations with commonly-used platforms, but doing so with anything more niche may be challenging.

Opting for bespoke software on the other hand means you can select the feature set that works for your e-commerce business. Currently relying on systems and platforms that you don’t want to lose? These can be integrated with the new customised tech, meaning you don’t have to radically overhaul existing workflows.

Crucially, custom integrations will support business growth. The e-commerce sector is unpredictable – just look at the past few years and the current economic climate – so success relies on agility and adaptability. A bespoke system can be customised to your needs at the time of the build, while working with a trusted team will allow for new integrations and changes further down the line.

Growth was a key factor in a project we delivered for short let services firm, Airlinen. The application directly integrated with a management system via API with some very specific requirements. This ensured that the company would continue to evolve and expand without setback.

Control costs

Off-the-shelf providers will usually charge set transaction fees which do not account for the individual needs of e-commerce businesses. These fees are often charged on every sale made – in addition to the business paying a monthly subscription fee for the provider’s platform. Costs can quickly escalate, especially for retailers trying to gain or increase their share of the market by attracting high order numbers.

Working with a development team to create a customised solution means that per-transaction costs can be kept down to custom-negotiated positions for payment processing fees. This eliminates the problem of additional per-transaction fees or hidden costs. The e-commerce company and its users are firmly in control of costs, making it easier to scale business and make more accurate financial forecasts. Both of which are critical in the unpredictable market of online selling!

Add valuable IP

A custom-made e-commerce solution is not just another tool for a business. It is a valuable addition and integral part of that business. The software is a form of intellectual property, meaning the owner has the freedom – with the help of an experienced team – to evolve the system to align with the needs of its business and the e-commerce market.

The software can also be licensed to others, creating additional revenue streams and better tax efficiencies. Depending on the solution, initial costs for going bespoke can work out higher than off-the-shelf. However, with no subscription fees and by gaining IP, bespoke offers strong ROI.

Go beyond e-commerce

Straightforward sales are just the start for some businesses. Many people used the pandemic, for instance, to launch home-based businesses. A bespoke solution will allow small businesses and start-ups to start small, and add features and increase their offerings further down the line.

More established businesses can also benefit. Growth and scaling are possible with pre-packaged e-commerce solutions, but the costs for adding features, functionality, hosting, etc. are often far higher – and may be less transparent – than working with a bespoke software provider.

Whether you’re growing your e-commerce business or just starting out, personalisation is bound to be a top priority. So remember: personalisation starts with ‘personalised’, bespoke e-commerce software. Interested in finding out how this approach could work for you? Get in touch.

Appdrawn Team | Updated 17th August 2023

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