Build vs. Buy: Mobile Customer Engagement Surfaces the Age-Old Debate

As retailers step up to embrace a mobile customer engagement strategy, the build vs. buy debate will once again rise to the forefront. The temptation to build software that meets business-specific requirements is enticing, but requires serious consideration of resources, costs, implementation and maintenance. At the same time, the buy option remains fraught with doubt: Is a platform really flexible enough for customization, and how costly will that customization be?

Build vs. buy is a recurrent debate in the enterprise software landscape, and “buy” has won time and time again. Whether it was ATG with web application servers; IBM and Oracle with relational databases; or SAP with ERP systems, buying allows businesses to start with a commercial platform and customize it for their specific needs.

Even resource-rich retailers with the money and resources to build in-house choose to buy. The right partner provides the basic technology and infrastructure required and eliminates the need to start from scratch. Rather than reinvent the wheel, retailers can invest resources on driving innovation around the customer experience.

The “buy” option may seem unproven or unviable for a new category such as mobile customer engagement. But cobbling together point solutions to “build” engagement is labor- and time-intensive, risky, and insufficiently flexible in the face of changing customer demand. Mobile customer engagement requires a platform that evolves with shifting consumer expectations. Only then can retailers sustain relevance and cultivate enduring customer relationships that lead to improved growth, margins and loyalty.

Whether you build or buy a mobile customer engagement platform, a number of key factors must be considered. Download our Build vs. Buy Guide to evaluate all the key considerations and determine the best course of action for your business.