Custom Mobile App vs. Off-The-Shelf Mobile App

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Developing a strong mobile strategy is crucial for businesses to attract, retain, and expand their customer base, as well as enhance their cost efficiency. However, many companies face uncertainty when it comes to mobile application development. The fundamental question to consider is whether to create a custom mobile app or use an off-the-shelf mobile app.

The majority of companies tend to invest in custom mobile apps, primarily because they are tailored to meet specific business requirements and target a specific set of users. Custom mobile app development is gaining popularity as a result of this trend, and it is becoming a preferred choice for companies.

Choosing Between Custom vs. Off-The-Shelf Mobile Application Development

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Mobile applications are no longer a requirement but rather a necessity for companies to engage their customers, which is why it’s crucial to choose the right mobile strategy in the first place.

Off-the-shelf mobile applications have some key benefits, including:

  • Quick deployment: These mobile apps are already developed, tested, and available for purchase, meaning you can deploy them quickly without waiting for a custom-built mobile app to be developed. This is particularly useful if you have an urgent need for a mobile app or if you want to test a mobile app idea quickly.
  • Lower upfront development costs: Developing a custom mobile app can be expensive and time-consuming. Off-the-shelf mobile apps are more affordable since they are developed for a larger customer base and the costs are spread out among many buyers.
  • Maintenance included in price or via maintenance contract: The cost of maintaining a mobile application can be significant. With off-the-shelf mobile apps, maintenance is often included in the purchase price or available via a maintenance contract. This can reduce the overall cost of ownership and make it easier to budget for ongoing support.

While these benefits are attractive, it’s important to note that off-the-shelf mobile apps are not always the best fit for every business. Custom mobile applications may be necessary to meet specific requirements, ensure a unique user experience, or provide features that are not available in off-the-shelf mobile apps.

Businesses sell mobile app products directly to clients through white labeling, but this approach may not always provide clients with full control over their mobile app project due to various limitations. To gain a better understanding of the available options for mobile app development, we will examine the key characteristics of a custom approach below.

Mobile App Customisation

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Businesses often have specific needs that cannot be met by pre-existing mobile app solutions and require the flexibility to adapt and change as goals shift and new requirements arise. While some off-the-shelf mobile app solutions offer customisation options, it’s important to assess the level of customisation required to meet your company’s needs. It may turn out that the mobile app customisation you require is difficult or impossible to implement with an existing mobile app product, or that the cost and effort required are too great compared to developing a custom mobile app solution. Off-the-shelf mobile app solutions are designed to cover some of the needs of many companies, but they may not support all the features and functionalities your business requires.

Ownership of Mobile App Source Code and Product

Choosing custom mobile application development also grants you the advantage of owning the mobile app source code and retaining ownership of the product, which is not possible with off-the-shelf mobile app solutions. Owning the mobile app source code enables your company to swiftly adapt to changing market needs, which can make all the difference in the success or failure of your mobile app.

Mobile App Personalised UI & UX

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The user interface (UI) plays a key role in shaping the user experience (UX) and usability of mobile applications. Most off-the-shelf mobile apps typically offer a generic user interface, while some provide limited options for companies and users to customise the mobile app to their preferences. However, with custom mobile app development, the entire mobile app UI can be tailored, tested, and improved to ensure that it not only meets but exceeds user expectations.

Personalisation is key to providing a unique and relevant experience to users, which can significantly boost user engagement and retention. Users are more likely to keep using a mobile application if the experience aligns with their needs and preferences. With mobile app users demanding a more personalised and relevant experience, off-the-shelf mobile app solutions fall short compared to custom mobile apps, which offer a clear advantage.

If you’re targeting a generic set of users with an off-the-shelf mobile app solution, you risk compromising the UX. On the other hand, a custom mobile app enables you to provide your users with a consistent and seamless UX while offering a great deal of personalisation.

Mobile App Scalability

Creating a mobile application that can withstand the test of time is a common challenge during the development process. It’s important to anticipate changing user behaviours and preferences to create a successful mobile app that can adapt to those changes. However, the process of integrating new features and functionality into an existing mobile app can be difficult and time-consuming, especially if the API is poorly designed.

When investing in mobile application development, it is important to consider both current and future business needs. Off-the-shelf mobile app solutions may not be sufficient to meet these needs, as they often lack the necessary flexibility to accommodate future growth and change. Choosing to purchase an off-the-shelf mobile app product is risky because it lacks scalability, which may force you back into the mobile app market in a few years, starting the entire process over again, leading to additional time and expense.

Developing a custom mobile app designed specifically to meet your current needs will allow for future growth and expansion. By starting small and building gradually, your mobile app can evolve and adapt to changing business objectives and user behaviours, ensuring its longevity and ongoing success.

Mobile App Compatibility across Devices

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If your mobile application is not compatible with a wide range of devices, you risk losing out on a lot of users. A custom-built mobile app, on the other hand, offers the flexibility to select which devices your mobile app will support. This is especially important in today’s rapidly changing technological landscape, with new devices hitting the market at a growing rate.

Custom mobile application development provides greater control and choice in terms of platform compatibility. You can select which operating systems, APIs, and technical capabilities are best suited for your mobile app, and make adjustments as needed over time to ensure ongoing compatibility. This level of customisation also enables you to make informed decisions about how to maintain your mobile app over time, ensuring that it remains up-to-date and functional on the platforms your users rely on. Ultimately, custom mobile app development can help to maximise your mobile app’s reach and appeal to a diverse range of users.

Is Custom Mobile App Development A Better Investment?

When evaluating the pros and cons of custom mobile app development versus off-the-shelf mobile app solutions, it’s important to consider the key factors above. Depending on their specific needs and objectives, companies may find that pre-built mobile applications are not the most effective or efficient choice over the short or long term.

As the mobile app market expands, companies are seeking out innovative ways to engage customers. Custom mobile apps offer many benefits that can help businesses meet and exceed their objectives. A custom mobile application should fully address the specific needs of a business and be designed to accommodate future requirements. Although pre-built mobile apps may initially seem convenient and attractive, mobile apps that are tailored precisely to both business and user needs frequently provide a more effective solution. Ultimately, investing in custom mobile app development can help businesses realise their full potential and remain competitive in a constantly evolving digital landscape.

Get started with an E-commerce Mobile App

If you’re an E-commerce business without a mobile application, now is the perfect time to build one with StarTrick. In just 45 days, you can create a mobile app to send push notifications, run targeted campaigns, and increase customer retention with loyalty strategies, such as loyalty points, reward systems and many more. Start building your app today with StarTrick and take the first step towards effective customer engagement.

Interested in taking the next step for your business with a mobile app? Our mobile app development experts at Startrick have years of experience in mobile app development, design, deploying, and migration needs to increase the visibility of your brand. We’d love to hear about your ideas and help transform your project into a reality.

Reach out to our mobile app development experts at [email protected] and share with us about your business project!

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