Advantages of off-the-shelf software

Off-the-shelf software comes in many shapes and sizes. It is an accessible approach to implementing new software into your company and many people make the leap of faith in purchasing new software each and every year. 

There are disadvantages to being aware of this form of software and we have another blog concerning this matter in our Insights section. Aspects such as lack of scalability, tricky integration, and update costs should all play a part in your decision-making process. However, in this blog, we want to discuss the advantages and positive potential that off-the-shelf software might have for some people so that you may have both complete sides of the argument.

Let’s start by defining what we mean by off-the-shelf software. 

What is off-the-shelf software?

Off-the-shelf software refers to software that is designed, created, and packaged for a diverse range of potential customers. The systems aren’t for any one client or company, but with the general public in mind. This means that they have a range of features and capabilities that will be beneficial for many different people and groups. 

Off-the-shelf software is available in every genre and sector. Some popular options you may have already heard of include Microsoft Office, McAfee Virus Protection, Adobe, and Windows. All of these software systems can be purchased as they are, downloaded, installed, and used straight away. 

The definition of off-the-shelf is in direct comparison to that of bespoke. Bespoke software packages are those developed by a software development company to meet an individual client’s requirements. These are tailor-made options with a higher sense of control and personalisation. 


Now that we know what off-the-shelf software is, let’s discuss why it can be advantageous in certain situations. 

Initial cost reduction 

Especially when compared to the cost of bespoke software, prepackaged software options are cheaper. But only initially. Many people are attracted to off-the-shelf software options because they can allow a quicker launch of their business or platform when they might have a more limited budget. Off-the-shelf packages can help you get your feet off the ground. It is important to note, however, that they do incur more costs as time goes on, including upgrade costs. 

Availability of reviews and guides 

It is easy to make a choice of which off-the-shelf software option you want, as there are many reviews and guides about and for them already. You can easily search the Internet to find out information about the software and figure out whether it will be the right fit for you. You can also find the guides you need to fix issues you might be having when you are using the software. 

Quick training and easy troubleshooting 

On a similar note to our previous point, off-the-shelf software options provide easy training and trouble-shooting opportunities. Using guides and resources made available by the providers, you can allow your staff to train themselves in the software. If any problems arise, it is easy for your employees and colleagues to find their solutions via accessible troubleshooting. This can cut down on time and costs associated with training and assistance.

Free trials

A lot of off-the-shelf software options offer free trials for customers before purchase. Free trials are beneficial to your decision-making and they can help you vet software before you waste your budget on it. Of course, you can’t change anything or adapt any feature to your specific needs in the way you can do with prototypes and MVPs built by a software development company. However, you can stop yourself from making any big mistakes through free trials. 

Automatic updates

Many off-the-shelf packages will have their own updating systems in which the providers will provide updates to your software as and when they have them. These typically involve fixing bugs, updating protocol, and working on security issues. These updates are designed and decided by the providers without any input from you or your company, but you can still benefit from the process of automatic updates. It is easy and will usually happen without you even noticing. 

Customer support options 

Some pre-packaged software options will have options for customer support. You can typically find chatbots and helplines through which you can ask questions and request troubleshooting assistance. For some packages, this assistance is only available for certain periods of time, usually in warranty periods. The support won’t be as comprehensive, expert, or personalised as that of a bespoke development team, but it may help you keep major problems at bay.

Overall, off-the-shelf software has a few advantages that will be enticing to certain individuals and groups at different stages of their business journey. Does it match up to bespoke software? We will let you be the judge of that.

Get expert software advice 

At 6B, we have a team of tech experts ready to consult with you about your next project. We can give you the guidance you need to make the best possible decision in your tech journey. 

Discussing your software options with a professional team and figuring out what is the best possible option for you can help you make the right choice for your business. That choice can change everything. 


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