Benefits of custom software solutions for small businesses

Benefits of custom software solutions for small businesses

At some point, every entrepreneur starts to wonder whether their company needs a custom application or if it can function solely with the help of commercial software. For small business owners, in particular, it may seem that building custom software would only consume valuable time and resources without bringing any real profit. In this article, we outline the primary benefits of custom software development and help you understand if custom or off-shelf solutions better fit your business.

Comparing custom and commercial off-the-shelf software

In today’s heated business landscape, companies are constantly searching for ways to cut the resources spent on internal operations and break away from competitors. This can be achieved through the effective use of custom and ready-made tech solutions. Both of them come with their own advantages and challenges, which we will review below.

Commercial off-the-shelf software

Commercial software or COTS refers to pre-built, readily available apps created to be used by a wide audience. These types of applications are spread by software vendors for free or by subscription and aim to solve common tasks like accounting, managing customer interactions, task tracking, collecting and visualizing data, and many more. Such services include Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, QuickBooks, Salesforce, and others.

Commercial software requires minimum time to set up; it can be easily purchased and installed. Using COTS software can help to cut costs and save time since it does not require the extensive design, development, and testing phases associated with tailored software. However, such a solution may not perfectly align with an organization’s unique needs or specific processes, which could necessitate compromises or additional customization efforts. And if you customize a commercial solution, it will cause additional expenses but may not work as smoothly as a custom solution.

Custom software solutions

Custom software refers to tech solutions that are designed, developed, and built to cater to individual workflow and requirements of a single company. Bespoke software isn’t intended for mass-market usage and is targeted at the audience of an individual entrepreneur. To get a custom tech solution, entrepreneurs usually hire an in-house team or collaborate with an IT agency.

The ability to tailor the application to perfectly fit the organization’s needs, increased flexibility and scalability, and the potential for better integration with third-party systems are among the most significant benefits of custom software development. However, custom software is often deployed with higher costs and longer development timelines compared to COTS solutions.

It’s important to point out that at the beginning of a business, it’s absolutely fine to use ready-made solutions. At that moment, small businesses may need only simple solutions like Excel spreadsheets or manage internal processes using chats on social networks. However, as new clients arrive, employees get hired, and other factors come into play, the need to improve processes directly impacts the company’s revenue and income. If all managers use only Excel spreadsheets, effective teamwork becomes challenging.

Off-the-shelf solutions may not always provide the necessary flexibility and scalability as your business starts growing. This is where custom software solutions come into play, offering tailored applications that cater to the unique needs and workflows of each company, ultimately improving efficiency, collaboration, and overall success. These and other benefits of custom software development make it an effective and useful solution for small businesses. Let’s review them below.

What are the benefits of custom software development, and how does this approach solve the pain points of small businesses?

Small businesses face a myriad of challenges in their quest for growth and success. With limited resources, tight budgets, and increasing competition, it’s crucial for these businesses to find innovative ways to improve efficiency, maximize productivity, and stand out from the crowd. One such avenue small businesses can explore to gain a competitive edge is embracing custom software solutions. Below we have enumerated a few arguments in their favor.

Automate internal processes

Owners of small businesses usually have to wear multiple hats, juggling various tasks and responsibilities. They have to control their staff and deal with extensive paperwork, calls, and customer orders, and if they are mistaken at least a bit, this can lead to reputational losses and conflicts with customers.

The greatest benefit of custom software development is that it can provide an application to streamline the work of the service, so the business owner and the team don’t need to keep in touch with their contractors and customers by phone or social media where dialogs may get lost or store their information in heavy excel tables. All this can be done automatically with the help of the custom application.

One common example of apps that help to streamline business processes is driver apps within delivery services. For instance, Roadie is a service for delivery and shipping. The company has developed an app, where drivers can receive delivery orders automatically and execute them without the help of service operators. This helped to greatly reduce the load of Roadie’s staff.

Benefits of custom software solutions: Roadie app screens
The app allows drivers to receive orders, find optimal routes, chat with customers, and report deliveries to service owners

Implement a unique idea

Some business ideas can’t function purely by means of commercial software or free tools like social networks, task trackers, or tools for online meetings. They need a tool with outstanding features that can cater to unusual workflow.

One of the key benefits of custom software development is that with its help entrepreneurs can get any kind of features installed into their applications. The software development team can implement both basic features like two-factor authentication, catalogs, and payments as well as additional advanced features like AI-aided bots, sign-in with biometric information, or voice search. To add, custom software can accommodate the outstanding flow and demand of small businesses.

Marketplaces usually require non-standard solutions depending on the goods and products sold. Some marketplaces sell both physical goods and info products while others deal only with food and beverage. Each of these types requires unique settings. Once our team has designed a marketplace for farmer goods like meat, berries, vegetables, and dairy. These goods have different expiry dates and storage methods. We added filters and reflected these features in the product description so users could always get fresh and high-quality products and knew how to store them.

Another example of a unique project that we have worked on is a Lainappi renting app. Within its flow, users can find needed items, chat with their owners, pay for rent in chat, and finally receive the item in the parcel locker where the owner leaves it. The team decided to automate their business flow purely by using a mobile application. We added several non-standard features like payment within the chat and a custom map that shows the location of the rented item. This functionality could be set up only by means of custom software development.

Benefits of custom software solutions: Lainappi app screens
This custom solution was built with React Native and allowed the Lainappi team to test their idea on the Finnish market in just 3 months

Raise customer retention and loyalty

Small businesses often have to work hard to establish trustworthy relationships with their customers, as they face stiff competition from large and other small-sized companies. One way to reach that is to provide customers with high-quality service and great customer experience.

One of the most important benefits of custom software development is that it helps businesses to anticipate and address customer pain points more effectively. For instance, a custom e-commerce platform can provide personalized product recommendations based on a customer’s browsing and purchase history. This can help to increase customer engagement and sales, as well as improve customer retention.

Moreover, custom software can help businesses to better understand their customers by providing valuable data and insights. By analyzing customer behavior and preferences, businesses can make data-driven decisions about their products and services and tailor their offerings to better meet the needs of customers.

One real-life example of how custom software can impact customer retention is the case of Starbucks. Starbucks has invested heavily in custom software development to improve its customers’ experience. They engineered a mobile app that allows their audience to order and pay for their drinks ahead of time and then pick them up at the store without waiting in line. This custom app has significantly improved the customer experience by making it more convenient and streamlined.

Benefits of custom software solutions: Starbucks app screens
The Starbucks app also provides a loyalty program and sends push notifications which help to push the retention rate even higher

Stay secure

The security of user data is one of the key factors in building trust between a business and its customers. Therefore, customer and user security should be a top priority for small businesses.

One of the benefits of custom software development is that creating a separate application for your business is more secure than using commercial solutions. Commercial software usually has an open-source code, which can be accessed and changed by cyber criminals. Additionally, hackers are more likely to target popular software, as this can provide access to the data of many users and companies.

Custom software, on the other hand, typically has closed-source code that is accessible only to the application owners and dev team. As a result, such software is less likely to be targeted by hackers. More than that, dev teams always run QA tests before application release and often use modern development tools that include built-in data protection features, which also reduces the risk of security breaches.

Make your business scalable

The owners of small businesses may struggle with scalability because they may not have the same level of brand recognition and market presence as larger firms. This can make it difficult to attract new customers and expand into new markets. Also, small-sized companies may lack funding for technological advancement.

Custom software can be designed to be highly scalable from the outset, which means you don’t have to add all the possible features to your app or website at once but do it gradually when you have enough funding. As your business and product grow, it can be expanded to cope with increased traffic, data volumes, and other factors that can affect a business flow.

Another great benefit of custom software development is that your application can be enhanced with other systems and applications, which allows businesses to create a seamless and efficient workflow. For example, Google Analytics can be integrated into the mobile application to track metrics like app downloads, user retention, and in-app purchases. All in all, custom software can be scaled up in terms of functionality and adjusted to accommodate more users and transactions as your company grows.

Custom applications can also help your business reach a wider market. One common example of this phenomenon is Netflix which was a DVD rental service from 1998–2007 and became a world-known multimedia company after it started its online streaming service. The custom software platform allowed the company to scale its streaming service and make it accessible to millions of users around the world.

Benefits of custom software solutions: How Netflix platform looked in 2012
Here’s how the Netflix platform looked in 2012 when video streaming became its main service. As you can see, it didn’t look top-notch but it still attracted users due to its unique idea

Wrapping up

To sum up, the greatest benefit of custom software development is that it can accommodate any possible workflow and can be used to implement many business models and ideas from simple landing pages for advertising to high-load e-commerce apps or unusual rental services.

Although custom software development may seem challenging at first glance, it brings small businesses many conveniences, including reducing the workload on the staff, raising customer loyalty, and even finding new customers and reaching a wider market.

However, if your business can function well purely on ready-made software solutions or their implementation seems a more cost-effective option, there is nothing bad in using them or leveraging a combination of both approaches.

If you want to get custom software for your business, you might need the aid of a software development company, and our Ronas IT team would be glad to help you fulfill your ideas.

If you want to develop a custom application for your business?
Don’t hesitate to contact us!

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