There are many products and services that you can buy tailored to your needs. If it meets your needs, then tailored must always be a good thing. We weren’t so sure. After thinking of a few examples, we could see some flaws when it comes to unique products. We could also see some advantages to buying something off the shelf.

Perhaps it comes down to the product then, or what you use it for. The only thing to do was to put some products and services to the test, to work out once and for all whether custom-built was better, or if we should buy off the shelf.

Custom built or off the shelf 01

Website Design

You could be a small business, an author, someone exploring their hobby, or an eCommerce startup. Either way, you’ll need a website to express what you’re doing, and to help customers find you. Knowing you need a website is the first step, but should you get something off the shelf, or go for a custom design.

Off the Shelf
That would mean an out of the box product that has pre-built integration, where you use templates to build your website. It would have your stamp on it, and you’d need to do it yourself, but there would be limitations as it will have been designed to meet the needs of the many, instead of exactly what you want.
Custom Design
The great thing about web design is that you can go custom, but choose the best of both worlds. You could start with a template structure like WordPress but work with a company, who can get the look and feel that is right for you. Web designers at The Story indicate that a website built for success is one of the benefits of when it is “designed and developed uniquely for you.”

Verdict: Go custom.

Custom built or off the shelf 02

Your Home

That’s right, you can choose to customize the build of your home, adding in the layout and features that you require, but does that make it everything you dreamed of?

Buying ‘Spec’
When you buy a home that has already been built, either as a new home or one that has existed for years, it certainly cuts down the waiting time for moving in. Not all of the spaces will be designed as you want them to be, but it will be a blank canvas ready for you to make your mark on. You don’t need to be an architect, but you can still have a beautiful and functional home.
Custom Built
A custom-built home really brings to light one of the main issues with tailored products, the lack of specific pricing. The more options you consider with your custom home, the more you could end up spending. Although things will be exactly as you want them, you will have to pay, have to wait, and it still isn’t a guarantee that it will be everything you dreamed of.

Verdict: Buy spec

Custom built or off the shelf 03


The trickiest topic to tackle is clothing. There could be occasions when having something made to measure could help, but perhaps that isn’t practical for every outfit for every day. As we are coming to realize, your requirements are at the heart of the decision.

Off the Rack
One of the main things in favor of buying clothes off the rack is that there is so much choice already. From chain retail stores that have new collections brought in every season, to vintage stores where you can find something a bit more unique.

The majority of people can find what they are looking for, and someone has already made it. Off the rack clothes are generally cheaper than getting something made to measure. You can still access expensive goods and designer wear, but you might see someone else wearing it.
Made to Measure
Clothes that have been made to your measurements are more expensive. If you have a particular body shape or size that doesn’t work well with things off a hanger, though, one of the only ways to find clothes that look good, is to get them made to your measurements. Having something that sits just where it should, or falls in exactly the right way can make a big difference to your appearance.

There are occasions when made to measure makes it a bit more special. This is usually true for more expensive garments, such as a suit, ball gown, or wedding dress. Having fittings for these products, since you are already spending money to look and feel good, makes sense. An ill-fitting suit or gown can take away from the overall look.

Verdict: Both, sometimes you need made to measure but off the rack works for day to day.

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a definitive answer to say whether custom-built is better than off the shelf. There are some rules to follow to help you make the decision, though. If the end result costs more, means waiting longer, and isn’t guaranteed to be better, then you might want to consider something that already exists. If it doesn’t meet your needs, though, try tailoring with some help from an expert.



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