Should Wireless Retailers Hire In-House Developers?

Some wireless retailers hire in-house developers to create apps and software to help market and sell their retail products, while others outsource work to third party companies that specialize in these solutions.

Decision makers facing this dilemma might wonder which direction they should take when developing products and software. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and see how these choices can impact brands’ omnichannel strategies.

Why some companies hire in-house developers

Employees look at tablets

There are definite benefits to using in-house developers. First, they are already familiar with your company’s needs and culture. This means mistakes can be easily remedied with low turnaround time, as troubleshooting problems and iterating new solutions can happen fairly fast. Keeping developers in-house may also provide an added sense of security as trade secrets and other proprietary data remain internal to your organization. Finally, in-house developers are usually paid a salary, and therefore are around for the long haul — meaning they can manage ongoing software maintenance and improve the product as new trends and technologies change consumers’ demands.

However, there are many downsides to using in-house developers. First off, it is unlikely that they have experience specific to retail marketing tools. What wireless retailers really need are people who understand how analytics, visual merchandising, omnichannel strategies, and product development all work together to help companies succeed, and who can program software code from the bottom up with this in mind. In-house developers may not come equipped with the skill set or expertise to understand how proprietary products fit into a company’s larger omnichannel strategies. When wireless retailers have apps that help simplify customers’ payments, plan management, and data usage while providing a cohesive brand experience, they are more likely to succeed. Of course, that’s a tall order.

The move towards outsourcing

Team meeting

Hiring third party developers can help wireless retailers avoid the disadvantages that come with creating custom tools in-house. Companies often assume that tasking an existing staff member with a new software feature or functionality is cost effective, but it isn’t always that simple. For one thing, shifting an employee’s focus to new priorities ultimately means that his or her previous responsibilities suffer from a lack of attention. Companies need to consider their employees’ bandwidths — who has the capacity and time to take on product development? It’s also important to think about what you’re paying for. Sure, a single salary may be slightly less expensive up front than a SaaS solution, but behind that third party vendor is the talent pool of an entire team of experts. Hiring one employee may appear to be cheaper at first glance, but your employee may not be able to offer the full list of services and breadth of knowledge that a SaaS company can provide.

There are many other good reasons why wireless retailers might outsource product and software development. When outsourcing work, the entire scope of the project is established upfront in a way that enables contractors to do their jobs, but also holds them accountable to certain deadlines. Furthermore, as companies will outsource developers for their specific expertise — such as omnichannel marketing solutions—these workers will bring a unique perspective and expertise to the product that may strengthen and challenge internal approaches.

Outsourcing work can also improve your company’s omnichannel presence, as outsourced developers might be more familiar with the technical requirements of the omnichannel world. For instance, if an app’s functionality is supposed to resemble that of in-store kiosks, a competent developer could create a product that mirrors the experience of using in-store technology, thus creating a more consistent brand-experience for consumers.

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Photos: Shutterstock / Pressmaster, Shutterstock / Billion Photos, Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images