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OOTB, third-party, and customized solutions: How to choose the right one for your business goals

Guilherme Portela, Paloma Castrioto, Renato Ricardi
Guilherme Portela, Paloma Castrioto, Renato Ricardi December 12, 2022
OOTB, third-party, and customized solutions: How to choose the right one for your business goals

There is no doubt that choosing the right set of tools and platforms to operate an online business is not an easy task. It gets even trickier when we consider the numerous particularities each type of business can have. A retailer in the construction industry will need to offer its customers a shopping experience with different features than a fashion retailer.

VTEX has numerous out-of-the-box (OOTB) native solutions that enable its clients to develop their stores in a practical, robust, and scalable way. However, when we talk about a highly competitive environment like the digital one, the businesses that offer unique experiences to their customers are the ones that stand out, thus building loyalty and reliability. On the other hand, they also need to develop and implement exclusive features. In this context, customizations and third-party solutions can guarantee this type of exclusivity.

In this article, you will learn more about the trade-off process to help you decide between OOTB, custom, and third-party solutions in the VTEX ecosystem.

Out-of-the-box (OOTB) solutions

An out-of-The-Box system is a pre-developed solution that intends to deal with problems common in a specific type of business. In our previous example, both construction and fashion retailers will need an Order Management System (OMS) – to centralize the control of generated orders – and a Content Management System (CMS) – to create and store digital content easily. Both resources meet some of these sectors’ typical demands, and VTEX offers solutions to these pain points, providing agility to start operations without having to reinvent the wheel.

Benefits

  • OOTB solutions can be quickly implemented and are often ready to use, requiring only installation/configuration, which also reduces time-to-market.
  • This type of solution does not require an advanced internal IT team for implementation and improvements because the system provider will be solely responsible for providing quality, documentation and support.
  • The initial cost is typically lower than custom solutions because they are “prebuilt”.

Drawbacks

  • As it is a standard tool for a whole group of customers, it will not necessarily have all the specific functionalities you might desire, especially when it comes to niche businesses.
  • To ensure operational scalability and reliability, not all OOTB solutions are built to communicate with external systems. Therefore, its integration with other tools can be difficult, requiring flexibility from the project team.
  • Even though the initial cost is lower, subscription fees and additional costs for expanding features may apply.

Customized solutions

A customized tool is helpful when the business requires something beyond what is widely used in the market. This kind of solution is developed to meet a specific business condition, be it an entire system or even a complement to out-of-the-box software.

Thus, for a construction ecommerce strategy, investing in developing a customized feature that saves data (shopping cart items, quantities, and prices) for future use would be ideal for enriching the customer experience. This is a component that large OOTB platforms probably would not have natively.

VTEX Tip: To remedy such gaps, VTEX offers the VTEX IO Development Platform, which allows the simple and intuitive creation and customization of applications. The merchant and their technical team can create an application from scratch using the VTEX infrastructure, connect external integrations or customize applications with preconfigured properties.

Benefits

  • Developing the product, that is, implementing new upgrades and expanding resources according to your needs.
  • Customization allows you to deliver more value to your end consumer and facilitate your business’s internal processes, increasing your competitive edge.

Drawbacks

  • Changes or upgrades to the software will require many tests/verifications to ensure the correct functioning of the system. Therefore, it’s necessary to have a solid internal technical team, depending on the level of customization.
  • If your customized solution is being architectured with other OOTB or third-party systems, you will have to monitor them continuously so that these systems’ upgrades won’t harm the functioning of your customizations, resulting in ongoing costs.

Third-party solutions

These are products, services, and functionalities that integrate with OOTB and customized systems, using the existing server structure and APIs to connect with other external services.

We can say that third-party solutions are halfway between customized and out-of-the-box solutions because you can add specific functionalities to your website that are not offered by the OOTB resources without needing an in-house development team. So much so that its benefits and drawbacks are quite similar to the ones already mentioned in this article.

In our theoretical example, hiring an external hub for order tracking and shipping, which would exchange information with the OMS out-of-the-box APIs being used, could be a good option for both merchants.

Benefits

  • Just like the OOTB solution, third-party ones are ready to use, so there’s no need to have an internal IT team to manage the application.
  • Since you bought the rights to use the application, if there are any errors or problems, the external IT provider will be solely responsible for providing dedicated support and documentation.
  • Often, these applications have robust integrations with large external systems, ensuring architecture scalability. And this is precisely the kind of curation that the VTEX Partner Portal provides to the ecosystem partners, ensuring the correct functionality of the integrations regardless of the data volume.

Drawbacks

  • Depending on the type of application, the outsourced product may not have an integration with your other systems. Thus, it is necessary to develop specific customizations to ensure the correct flow of data between entities.
  • Extra fees, such as subscriptions, may be charged for using the product/service.

How to choose the best option?

The decision-making process will depend on your needs and the impact the new feature will have on your business. If the functionality does not help you reach your ultimate goal, consider dropping it. In that case, you can leverage structures that are already in place. Pondering the costs and the effort your team will need to devote is also pivotal when choosing the best path.

In addition, it is also important to consider that an OOTB solution can be updated and improved over time without you having to get your hands dirty. On the other hand, when you create a custom solution on top of an OOTB one, you can fall behind on these improvements. To avoid this scenario, you will need to spare some time from your team to monitor and change it constantly.

Below are the main advantages and points of attention for each type of solution, especially considering the use of the VTEX platform:

In summary

When we talk about the solution architecture, it is important to emphasize that this is not an all-or-nothing game; the ecosystems surrounding ecommerce systems are extremely rich and usually offer a mix of the three possible solutions.

To avoid overwhelming your ecommerce strategy with a lot of customization and calls to partners, you should first assess your business expectations and try to refine them to take full advantage of the native OOTB features of a vast ecommerce platform like VTEX. 

Then, if the need arises, partner products/services can be considered to enrich the business value chain. Finally, having exhausted the possibilities above, you might want to develop relevant customizations that will make your business unique and display its value to the final consumer.Regardless of the architecture developed, VTEX is ready to ensure scalability and enough information to guarantee your power of choice. Visit our Partner Portal or contact one of our specialists today to learn more about the power of our ecosystem.

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