Plug'n'Play vs. Custom: Which webshop system is the best?

E-commerce has evolved enormously in recent years. The variety of available solutions is impressive. These are my experiences and tips for those who have yet to decide on a solution.

Article by


Jakob Kaya

4 min read24 Jul 2023

Before co-founding Mindnow AG with Jean-Paul Saija in 2017, I had already gained a wealth of experience with various e-commerce technology stacks. They all have specific advantages and disadvantages, which I got to know better over the years.

My first e-commerce experiences with niche webshops.

About 11 years ago, together with friends, I founded my first niche online store, a lighting retailer with rock-bottom prices, with our then e-commerce startup. Our ambition to get on the web quickly and set everything up ourselves led us to build our store on Magento 1.

Over time, other niche stores followed. For, an online store for sustainable and natural products, we relied on the Shopware online store system developed in Germany. We also chose the same for our niche online store, which specializes in swimming pool chemicals.


The business with niche online stores created with open source software went well. Thanks to the ready-made store systems, we were able to launch more stores on the market very quickly. These were followed by for erotic products and for perfume and beauty products.

By the way, with the online parfumerie there was a cooperation with the then Dealini AG, which led to Jean-Paul and me getting to know each other. But I will tell you this story another time. :-)


Many good plug'n'play store solutions

Most of the online stores I built in the early 2010s no longer exist today. But what's much more valuable anyway is that it gave me a unique wealth of experience with various e-commerce technologies. Magento, Shopware, PrestaShop, Shopify - there's hardly a plug'n'play store solution I haven't worked with.

I've seen the ups and downs, the challenges and benefits of each system. Along the way, I've always asked myself: what works best? How can we make online shopping as smooth and enjoyable as possible for our customers? Which technology fits which requirements?

Custom e-commerce: Tailor-made works best

My rich experiences have taught me that in the world of e-commerce, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that is best for every company. It's important to consider a company's specific needs and find the system that best fits their goals.

That's why today I have a clear answer to the questions I asked back then: customized e-commerce solutions work best and make online shopping the most pleasant experience for users.

In the meantime, I have been Co-CEO of Mindnow AG for 5 years. We move and innovate for good reason in the area of custom e-commerce and increasingly rely on headless solutions.

Mindnow AG, based in Switzerland, specializes in the development of e-commerce solutions and headless systems, among other things. The multidisciplinary and multinational team works from multiple locations for a simple, intuitive and effective e-commerce experience.

Checklist: When a ready-made store system is right for you

Some businesses are probably best served by my niche e-commerce startup approach at the time. Ready-made store systems like Shopware or Shopify definitely have their raison d'être and offer clear advantages in certain use cases:

You have a small budget

A ready-made system is often a cost-effective solution. Most come with reasonable monthly fees and require no cost to develop a custom e-commerce platform.

You want to tinker yourself

For those who prefer the do-it-yourself approach, plug'n'play platforms are a good choice. They are user-friendly and don't require a high level of technical knowledge, just time and motivation.

You want to test out e-commerce

Provided your e-commerce ambitions are only at a test stage, you have no revenue dependency and want to test quickly and in the short term whether and how your concept works on the web, then ready-made stores are ideal for a quick start.

You do not need your own integrations.

If you don't need any special integrations into an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) or a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or similar, a plug'n'play system may also suffice.

Do these points apply to you? Then a ready-made system is suitable for your project.

For companies that want to align their brand and offer their customers an individual shopping journey, on the other hand, I recommend a customized e-commerce system.

10 reasons why a customized store system is recommended

1 – Perfect fit for your company

Everything from the user interface to the backend features can be designed and implemented according to your specific requirements. The platform is perfectly tailored to your individual business needs.

2 – Lower costs in the long run

Even though the initial cost is usually higher than plug'n'play solutions: In the long run, a custom solution can actually be more cost-effective. This is because you don't pay regular subscription fees and you also avoid the costs associated with switching to a new platform.

3 – Brand differentiation

You can design and control every element of the user experience. This allows you to create a distinctive brand image and stand out from the competition.

4 – Flexible integrations

With a custom solution, you can integrate virtually any third-party system or service and tailor it to your needs.

5 – Scalability and performance

You can optimize your platform for expected traffic and transaction volumes. If there is a greater need for performance during periods of growth, you can make changes at any time.

6 – Control over your data

You are not dependent on a third-party data policy, but control your data yourself. This can be critical for compliance and security purposes.

7 – Competitive advantage

With features, integrations, or user experiences not available on standard platforms, you can gain a significant competitive advantage.

8 – Seamless business processes

With a customized solution, you can design the platform to fit seamlessly into your existing business processes.

9 – Adaptability

You have the flexibility to customize and evolve your platform as needed. You are not constrained by the constraints of an existing platform.

10 – Technological innovation

Especially if you use a headless e-commerce architecture, you have additional flexibility to innovate. You can leverage new technologies without having to overhaul the entire system.

Examples of Custom Onlineshop Systems

Both Mindnow and our clients have recognized the advantages of custom solutions over plug'n'play systems in e-commerce. One example is the Thömus Bike 3D configurator, a tool we developed that allows users to assemble their perfect bike in real-time directly in the browser. This bike store demonstrates the highly complex logic and flexibility we can build into our solutions.

Another proud success of our customized solutions is the Dermalogica Switzerland Headless PWA webshop. Thanks to the clear and user-friendly design, we were able to significantly increase Dermalogica's conversion rate and sales.

The Motolino Headless Shop and Vespa configurator demonstrates our ability to create custom designs and order directly online.

With our real estate action commerce platform Immocatch, we were able to prove once again that our customized e-commerce solutions are efficient, effective and achieve high user satisfaction.

Saleor - our choice for headless e-commerce

In all these examples, we relied on Saleor, a modern headless e-commerce platform. It allows us to take full advantage of the benefits of headless e-commerce.

With Saleor, we can update and synchronize product catalogs, prices, discounts, and images across all online platforms in real-time, while ensuring a seamless user experience. The Headless platform gives us exactly the technology independence we need to unleash our creativity and provide the best possible shopping experience for our customers' clients.

Are you curious?

Which e-commerce solution is probably the best for your brand? I - Jakob Kaya - and the entire Mindnow team are ready to answer your questions and help you take your online store to the next level.

I'm happy to listen to your starting point and give you initial feedback within 30 minutes. During this conversation, we can work together to determine which approach best fits your needs and how your e-commerce vision can become a reality.

Involved Minds:
Carina Felsberger
Senior UX WriterInvolved as:Editor