3 Questions You Need to Ask Before Investing in Retail Software

To build, or to buy? That is the question on the minds of many retailers and brands.

Retail management software is a must for modern businesses. Without the right solution in place, chances are your teams aren’t operating as efficiently and effectively as they could be. And, as a study by RIS News recently revealed, a lack of brand consistency from store to store can cost retailers and brands millions of dollars in lost sales opportunities.

But deciding whether to build software in-house or seek out an off-the-shelf solution isn’t an easy decision to make: it requires lots of planning, perseverance, and patience. And when time is in short supply, performing due diligence is easier said than done.

To speed up your journey, we’ve created an in-depth guide to help retailers through the decision-making process.

Look below to find three of the top seven questions you need to ask yourself before breaking the bank on an in-house solution or opening your wallet for a more practical third-party platform.

Then, once done, scroll to the bottom of the page to download the free guide.


What To Ask Yourself When Deciding Whether to Build or Buy Retail Software


1. What Must-Have Features Do You Need?

When deciding whether to build or buy, you need to start at the top.

Every logical build vs. buy decision-making process should begin with a list of requirements meant to suit everyone from higher-ups to day-to-day end users.

First, start by listing the obvious ones—the features and functions you can’t live without.

Then, reverse engineer job tasks by breaking down and analyzing each day-to-day duty and the multiple steps it takes to accomplish them. From there, you should get a clearer picture of what other capabilities are needed to help alleviate responsibilities related to store execution, compliance, visual merchandising, and store auditing within your company.

Once you’ve compiled and completed your list, the first thing to consider is whether or not there’s an existing tool that meets all of your demands (realistically, there probably is).

And remember: Often, building software internally can be more costly (and riskier) than going straight to another provider. According to McKinsey & Company, 56% of large IT projects don’t meet their original vision and are launched with sacrificed features and value, while 19% of IT projects never reach the market. Yikes!


2. What’s the Cost of Implementation?

What’s your time worth?

That’s the question at play when deciding whether or not the cost of implementation is worth it.

With a pre-built third-party solution, you know exactly what the cost is from day one.

The same can’t be said for custom builds.

Contrary to popular belief, developing software isn’t just a one-time deal. It involves building and implementation, upgrades and patches, ongoing development and enhancements, and near-constant testing and maintenance.

And to pull it off properly, you need a large I.T. team to create a successful in-house solution.

With third-party software, what you see is what you get. And it’s scalable, meaning there’s a lower recurring cost as your company grows.

Store associates looking at a computer and tablet


3. What’s the Opportunity Cost?

Most large companies have the funds and talent available to build a solution in-house. But what would you lose by allocating resources—time, money, and human capital—towards a project, especially one that has likely been solved by someone else already?

Essentially, the question isn’t “can we do it?” But “should we do it?”

Just because you can do something on your own doesn’t mean it’s worth it.



That was just an excerpt. To get the full build vs. buy guide, click here.

And if you’re ready to try our easy to onboard and implement off-the-shelf solution, request a demo of Foko Retail and speak with someone from our customer success team today.