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Custom eCommerce Platform vs Off-the-Shelf

Updated   |  8 min read

Key Takeaways
  • A customizable eCommerce platform is a tailor-made solution built from scratch to meet the specific needs and requirements of a business. They offer flexibility, scalability, and unique features but require a significant investment of time and resources.
  • In contrast, off-the-shelf eCommerce platforms are pre-built, ready-to-use solutions that offer a range of features and functionality. They are cost-effective and require less development time, but they may lack customization options and may not perfectly align with a business's unique needs.
  • Choosing between custom and off-the-shelf platforms depends on the business's budget, scalability requirements, and the level of customization needed.
  • Working with an experienced company that is familiar with each eCommerce solution can make the process go much more smoothly.

Off-the-Shelf vs. Custom Shopping Cart Solutions

Custom eCommerce development with with a free eCommerce websiteWhether to use an off-the-shelf eCommerce platform or get an eCommerce development solution can be a difficult decision for any business owner. And unfortunately, there is no one right answer.

For some businesses, an off-the-shelf solution may work perfectly fine while others need to go with an enterprise eCommerce platform that can be fully tailored to their specific needs. Below are some of the benefits and negatives of each that will help make your decision more informed and, hopefully, easier.

Off-the-Shelf eCommerce

An off-the-shelf eCommerce platform is a piece of readymade software that you can purchase and install right away. The software has already been developed, and tested, and is probably already being used successfully by several other businesses.

Pros of Off-the-Shelf

Custom eCommerce development with a custom eCommerce website
  1. Affordability: Off-the-shelf eCommerce platforms are generally more cost-effective compared to a custom enterprise eCommerce solution. The development costs are shared among multiple users, making it a more affordable option for businesses with limited budgets.
  2. Quick Deployment: Since off-the-shelf platforms are pre-built, they offer quicker deployment. Businesses can leverage existing templates and features, saving time on custom development and launching their online store faster.
  3. Established Support Systems: Off-the-shelf platforms often come with dedicated support systems and communities. This provides businesses with readily available resources, including documentation, forums, and customer support, making it easier to resolve issues and seek assistance when needed.
  4. Regular Updates and Security Patches: These platforms typically receive regular updates and security patches from the provider. This ensures that the basic online store stays up-to-date with the latest features and that vulnerabilities are promptly addressed, reducing the burden of maintenance and security management on businesses.
A custom e-Commerce website for your online store with custom eCommerce websites.

Cons of Off-the-Shelf Options

  1. Limited Customization: Off-the-shelf platforms have predefined features and templates, limiting the extent of customization. Businesses may not have complete control over the design, layout, or functionality, which can hinder their ability to create a truly unique and tailored online shopping experience.
  2. Lack of Scalability: As off-the-shelf platforms are built to cater to a wide range of businesses, they may not provide the scalability needed for long-term growth. Customization options may be limited, making it challenging to accommodate specific business requirements as they evolve.
  3. Competitive Similarities: Since multiple businesses may be using the same off-the-shelf multi-store eCommerce platform, there is a risk of having similar-looking online stores. This can make it harder for businesses to differentiate themselves and establish a unique brand identity in a crowded market.
  4. Dependency on Provider: Businesses using off-the-shelf platforms rely on the provider for updates, bug fixes, and support. If the provider discontinues the platform or fails to offer adequate support, businesses may face difficulties in maintaining and improving their eCommerce store.

It is essential for an online business to carefully consider these pros and cons when deciding whether an off-the-shelf eCommerce platform aligns with its specific needs and goals. It's very possible to throw money at an eCommerce website only to find out that it's on the wrong type of platform.

For instance, you might be using a B2C platform when a B2B (business-to-business) platform would make more sense. (Click for a B2B eCommerce definition.)

Custom eCommerce Development

Custom eCommerce development involves software that is adjusted to fit the needs of your business. A developer or a development firm will take the existing code and customize it to make it do what your business needs it to do.

This means the code to your platform will be unique to your business and customer needs, which means you will always be able to make changes to it, improving your customers' happiness, satisfaction, and loyalty.

ECommerce website development for an eCommerce website builder.

Pros of a Custom eCommerce Solution

  1. Tailored to Specific Needs: A custom eCommerce solution is built from scratch, allowing businesses to design and develop a solution that perfectly matches their unique requirements. This level of customization enables businesses to create a truly personalized online shopping experience for their customers.
  2. Flexibility and Scalability: Custom platforms offer unparalleled flexibility and scalability. Businesses have complete control over the design, layout, and functionality, allowing them to adapt and grow without limitations. Custom solutions can be easily modified and expanded as the business evolves, ensuring long-term scalability. You can even implement an eCommerce portal as necessary.
  3. Unique Brand Identity: With a custom eCommerce platform, businesses can establish a distinctive brand identity. They can create a user experience that aligns with their brand image, voice, and values. This differentiation can help businesses stand out from competitors and leave a lasting impression on customers.
  4. Tailored Integrations: Custom platforms provide the opportunity to seamlessly integrate with existing systems, such as inventory management, CRM, or payment gateways. This ensures smooth operations and efficient management of various business processes, enhancing overall productivity and customer satisfaction.
Custom eCommerce development with an eCommerce website builder.

Cons of Custom eCommerce Development

  1. Higher Development Costs: Custom eCommerce platforms involve higher development costs compared to off-the-shelf solutions. Building a custom solution requires more time, resources, and technical expertise, which can result in a higher upfront investment for businesses.
  2. Longer Development Time: Custom platforms take longer to develop and deploy since they are built from scratch. This can delay the launch of the online store and potentially impact time-sensitive business goals or marketing strategies.
  3. Maintenance and Support: Businesses using custom platforms bear the responsibility of ongoing maintenance and support. This includes applying updates, fixing bugs, and ensuring security measures. It requires a dedicated team or technical expertise to manage and maintain the platform effectively.
  4. Dependency on the Development Team: Businesses relying on custom platforms may face challenges if the developers or website builders become unavailable or if there is a lack of documentation. Dependency on a specific team for maintenance, upgrades, and support can pose risks if they are not readily accessible or if there is a need to transition to a different team in the future.

When considering custom eCommerce options, businesses should carefully evaluate these pros and cons to determine if the benefits of customization outweigh the associated costs and potential challenges.

Things to Consider Before Developing a Custom eCommerce Website

No matter what path you follow for your eCommerce business—whether it's off-the-shelf or a custom platform—it's important to have a custom development plan in place that fits your business model. 

Perform Thorough Industry Research

Before starting the eCommerce custom development software process, conduct a comprehensive analysis and research of your business industry. Understand gaps and consider your target customers. Dive deep into their preferences, age, and other factors to effectively develop product categories, descriptions, payment gateways, product images, and other aspects.

What does your marketplace or e-pharmacy offer that others don't? There must be a way to differentiate your business.

Prioritize Target Audience's Needs

Once you understand your product offerings, it's crucial to prioritize potential customers. Gain insights into their culture, geography, demographics, and buying inclinations.

Develop an engaging feedback form to directly collect customer feedback, enabling you to create appropriate responses and design your own online store accordingly.

Define Branding and Plan a Content Strategy

Strong branding and a well-thought-out content strategy are essential for reaching a wide audience. Look at successful companies like Amazon and examine their logos, product details, reviews, videos, images, emotional connections, and wish lists.

Consider building a remarkable logo, selecting the right brand voice, and establishing a strategy for growth and development.

Keep Your Budget in Mind

It's easy to overspend during the developmental stages of your eCommerce store. However, it's crucial to be cautious and stay within the specified budget. Employ strategies to help manage costs and revise your budget with every fiscal decision.

Consider Your Competition

Success in business involves standing out from competitors. Analyze their working segments by searching relevant keywords. Take note of the promotional tools and features they use to attract customers, such as social media or email marketing. Pay attention to technical aspects like hosting tools, domain names, content management systems, and other add-ons they utilize.

Create a Minimum Viable Product

Understand that an eCommerce store's primary function is to sell goods. An eCommerce MVP assesses the potential of your business to encourage people to make purchases. It will need a custom eCommerce website to accept orders, payment gateways to take payments, and inventory management to ensure it's working with your existing inventory software.

If you aim to build a creative and innovative shopping platform with a high conversion rate and excellent user experience backed by a special algorithm, developing an MVP is essential. An MVP may or may not be optimized for search engine optimization (SEO) initially, but it will be a vital part of your eCommerce web development.

Train Your Team

To increase sales and volume, have dedicated sales development representatives (SDRs). Ensure you have the right talent before launching a project. Invest in sales processes and team training to address productivity and efficiency challenges. Explore reputable sales blogs to educate your team and gain insights into optimizing day-to-day operations for optimal results in eCommerce.

What About the Actual eCommerce Website?

After your custom eCommerce development is done and you have the platform in place, what about the eCommerce website itself? Just because the platform is done doesn't mean that you don't still need to invest in excellent design and user interface for your eCommerce store. And you'll want the best eCommerce website builder to ensure you're taking care of your customers' needs.

During your custom eCommerce development services, make sure that the platform has the tools involved to make the best eCommerce website possible. After all, eCommerce websites can have the best search engine optimization, payment gateways, and product management features, but if it's not making conversions because of the poor design and UI/UX problems, it's not much of an eCommerce site.

Custom eCommerce development for an eCommerce site.

Clarity Can Help Your eCommerce Business

At Clarity, we understand how fundamental a good eCommerce platform is to eCommerce websites. Our team of expert developers has helped businesses customize off-the-shelf eCommerce platforms as well as create a custom eCommerce storefront, multi-store, or marketplaces for their businesses.

No matter the kind of business you want to start—marketplace, B2B, B2C, auction house, or eCommerce pharmacy—we can make it happen.

Our eCommerce platform, Clarity eCommerce Framework, can be customized to work perfectly for your online store. With excellent features and the ability to integrate with virtually any software, Clarity eCommerce Framework is the right eCommerce solution for your business.

We'll Show You How It's Done

To find out more about Clarity eCommerce or to speak with an expert about finding and implementing the best eCommerce platform that is right for your business, contact us today and get a free demo.

Web development.



It's possible to make your own eCommerce platform, but if you don't have the necessary expertise in custom platform development, it may take more time and energy than it's worth and you may not get all the functionality you need.

To get a scalable and fully functional platform suited to your business's needs, it's best to work with an experienced development company such as Clarity Ventures. A custom solution, including a cloud-based eCommerce platform, can get you all of the eCommerce website features you're looking for, key features you need for your business processes might not be available with off-the-shelf options.


The cost of a custom eCommerce development varies depending on the features, integrations, and other eCommerce website features you want to have implemented. There's often a base starting price for the eCommerce software and then an added cost for customizations.

How much the customizations cost will depend on what they are and what you need them to do, as this determines how much time and work it will take to implement them.

The cost also depends on the website builder you choose for your eCommerce website. A custom eCommerce website solution with advanced features, a mobile app, the ability to accept online payments, and other business tools with advanced eCommerce functionality will end up costing more.


How long it takes to build your custom platform depends on what customizations, integrations, and services you need to be implemented.

Also, over the course of the project, sometimes clients realize they want another feature that wasn't in the original plan. That's fine, but it does mean the timeline for a finished product will be prolonged.

Typically, it's best to wait until after the development team has all the details of the initial project (which we do in our Discovery Process) before trying to project a timeline so it's accurate.


A custom eCommerce platform offers several distinct advantages over off-the-shelf eCommerce solutions.

  • Tailored to Unique Business Needs: A custom solution is designed specifically for your business, allowing you to incorporate features and functionalities that align perfectly with your unique requirements, including mobile app support. This ensures a seamless and optimized user experience on every custom eCommerce website you create.

  • Scalability and Flexibility: As your business grows, custom eCommerce solutions can easily accommodate increased traffic and transactions. It can be scaled and adapted to meet changing demands, offering a level of flexibility that may be limited in pre-built solutions. The best eCommerce platforms can integrate seamlessly with a custom eCommerce site builder, mobile app offerings, a content management system, or enterprise resource planning software.

  • Full Ownership and Control: With the best platforms, you have complete ownership and control over the codebase. This means you can make adjustments, add features, and implement changes as needed without being bound by the limitations of third-party providers.

  • Competitive Advantage: Custom eCommerce solutions allow you to stand out in a crowded market. You can implement unique features, design elements, and branding strategies that distinguish your business from competitors.

  • Optimized Performance and Efficiency: Since it's built to your specifications, a custom solution can be optimized for performance. This means faster loading times, smoother navigation, and an overall improved user experience.

  • Security and Compliance: You have direct control over the security measures implemented in your custom solution. This ensures that you can adhere to specific industry standards and compliance requirements, offering a higher level of data protection and customer trust.

  • Cost-Effectiveness in the Long Run: While the initial investment for custom eCommerce solutions may be higher compared to off-the-shelf solutions, in the long run, it can be more cost-effective. You won't be locked into subscription fees or pay for features you don't need.

  • Seamless Integration with Existing Systems: If you have existing software or systems, a custom solution can be designed to integrate seamlessly. By enabling process automation for streamlining operations, it provides a cohesive user experience.

The best eCommerce solutions involving custom platforms provide a tailored, flexible, and competitive solution that can adapt to the specific needs of enterprises and small businesses, ultimately leading to enhanced performance, user satisfaction, and long-term cost savings.


Off-the-shelf eCommerce platforms have advantages too. They are generally more affordable, as development costs are shared among the multi-store eCommerce users.

They also offer quicker deployment, as most of the core features are already built. Additionally, these platforms often come with robust support systems and communities, providing readily available resources for troubleshooting and updates.

Off-the-shelf platforms typically include regular software updates and security patches, reducing the burden of maintenance on businesses.


When deciding between custom eCommerce development and off-the-shelf eCommerce platforms, several factors should be considered. Budget plays a crucial role since custom platforms can be more expensive to develop and maintain.

Time constraints are another consideration, as custom development and the associated eCommerce websites typically take longer than implementing an off-the-shelf solution. The desired level of control, scalability, and unique features should also be evaluated. Also, the technical expertise available within the organization and the future growth plans of the business should be taken into account.

In all, the custom eCommerce development you choose will be determined by your business model and the bespoke needs of your online business. If your needs go beyond the needs of a typical website builder, you might need to contact a special team for custom development.

Still have questions? Chat with us on the bottom right corner of your screen #NotARobot

Autumn Spriggle is a Content Writer at Clarity Ventures with experience in research and content design. She stays up to date with the latest trends in the eCommerce and software development industries so she can write content to help people like you realize the full potential for their business.

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