These days it's extremely easy to start an online business using one of the existing off-the-shelf websites to help you get started quickly.
Gone are the days when you had to organise a domain, designer, developer, and hosting for your new digital platform. Or so you thought.
These solutions are of course bootstrapped solutions that get you off the ground and instantly charging toward your competition.
But you will most likely find as your business grows and expands, so too does your need for complex business logic which can't be achieved in one of these solutions.
Custom solutions (or custom software) are usually built from the ground up for your business, with current and future needs in mind to keep development costs low.
Many companies will initially put off this investment and start with a bootstrapped solution, but for those who take the leap, the ROI can be very good. There is no downside to having a custom solution where building new features is a walk in the park.
Here are a few signs that your company has outgrown its current solution and should dive into the realm of a custom solution built for you.
Every fix feels like a bandaid
A telling sign that you have outgrown your current system is that all the fixes you do constantly feel like band-aid solutions and are no longer easy to do.
Unfortunately, not all off-the-shelf software can scale with your company.
This is especially true if you are in a new industry, or have an innovative product or service.
This is one of the biggest benefits of custom software as it is bespoke to your company, so it fits your business and development doesn't feel like a bandaid solution.
If you look closely enough, you may even be able to tell when a website isn't using a bootstrapped solution. These are without a doubt, companies that realised their current solution was holding them back, so they jumped ship onto a custom solution built for them and their business.
Inefficient processes or day-to-day tasks
If you are feeling this pinch, it's a big sign that your company has outgrown its current solution.
If you have to employ staff to deal with manual tasks, that is without a doubt one of the biggest signs that your company could do with a custom solution to solve these issues.
This naturally happens if you are using an off-the-shelf solution and your business grows to the point where your solutions when you were smaller no longer work due to the number of users you have daily.
The benefit of using a solution built for you is that you can find ways to automate your day-to-day tasks, by utilising something called APIs (which is a way for 2 websites or services to talk to each other).
A recent example is using Xero's API to automatically create invoices on new orders for a Pixel client.
It's hard to gain an advantage over your competition
This might be an easy way to gain that competitive advantage over your competitors.
You can only assume that your competition is in the same situation as you, sitting on pre-built platforms, and having all of the same issues, and you'd most likely be right.
For Shopify alone, there are over 4 million stores that are live on the web, meaning there is a good chance someone doing the same thing as you, is also doing it on Shopify.
Builtwith is a great way to check what technology a website is using behind the scenes. If you put in their domain, you may see that they are using Shopify, and therefore, you'd confirm if they're having the same issues as you. Another recent example for us was having a client come from Shopify as the current options for offering subscriptions just weren't quite cutting it. The solution they had just made it extremely difficult to manage, customise, and use. We can't dive into too many more details, but the usability was a big issue, and since moving to a custom solution, they've doubled their conversion rate, interested? read more here.
Expecting business growth
It may be as simple as you are expecting business growth.
With business growth, comes more demand and users to potentially break your current solution.
It's a very raw truth that many businesses fall short when scaling because they struggle with the added demand for their product or services.
Their systems often can't handle the surge in traffic, customers, or orders leading to a bad customer experience.
Not only do bootstrapped solutions fall short here, but they also just simply don't help with automating many of the day-to-day tasks you'd need to do if you scaled quickly.
Unable to find the expertise
It may be that you just can't find anyone to work on your website anymore. This can sometimes be true for off-the-shelf platforms that are no longer mainstream or have been pushed to the side in favour of other shiny new solutions.
You may end up employing someone full-time to maintain your off-the-shelf solution, and while this may work, it can be a costly exercise if you are paying a competitive salary.
Custom solutions usually also require dedicated team members to maintain the solutions, which can also be fairly expensive for a business.
The good news though, is leveraging a technical partner like Pixel can help keep costs low as you only pay for the development hours you need.
Owning the software
Contrary to what you may believe, if you are using one of these off-the-shelf solutions, you do not own it. You are simply renting it, as they are proprietary software.
In all cases for off-the-shelf solutions, they will always state that they own the platform, and you are simply renting it. But in some cases, they can also claim they own your data, and not you. It's wise to check the terms of your current solution to see if this is the case.
Handing over your business's intellectual property creates a risk that needs to be mitigated somehow.
With a custom solution though, the code is developed specifically for you, and hosted somewhere that you control, meaning that there is no chance of this ever happening.
Do you need custom software or a Laravel expert?
If this blog post has shown you that you may need a custom solution, feel free to get in touch.
We're always happy to have a phone chat to discuss your needs and can easily work out if a custom solution fits your business and budget.
Previous PostSEO Versus CRO: Which Is More Beneficial?