Mar 23, 2022
Low-code and no-code platforms are transforming software development. What started as a way to help developers work faster and automate repetitive tasks is now disrupting the tech industry and promising to democratize innovation.
The hype surrounding low-code and no-code platforms has spiked interest from startups and large companies seeking to innovate, streamline their development processes and cut costs and time-to-market.
And, of course, we get a lot of questions about them here at Torii.
Clients often ask why they should invest in a custom-built platform when they can build for less — and much faster — on a no-code platform. And we get where they’re coming from. No-code and low-code platforms can be fantastic alternatives for building apps and websites. But the limitations they come with mean these platforms are not the one-size-fits-all solutions that most people believe they are.
Sometimes, you just need to throw something together fast — either to test it out or because there’s an urgent need for it. In these situations, low-code and no-code platforms present an excellent alternative to developing an MVP or even a full-scale solution without the need to assemble a development team.
For those without the technical skills to code or the budget to hire someone to do it for them, low-code and no-code platforms have become a ticket into opportunities that had, until very recently, been out of their reach. Entrepreneurs across all industries can now bring ideas from inception to launch in a matter of weeks — sometimes even days — without the need to write a single line of code or hire developers.
Depending on your needs and goals, an app or website developed and hosted on a low-code or no-code platform may be all you need. After all, there are plenty of highly successful businesses running entirely on these platforms.
But, in our experience, once a business hits a certain threshold and is looking to scale, being tied to a low-code or no-code platform can present some serious limitations. That was the problem that Darkstore, a same-day delivery service built on Shopify, was experiencing when they approached us for help.
The company was seeking to invest freshly-raised capital on a custom-built platform that would enable them to launch FastAF, a standalone 2-hour delivery service for premium products.
Up until then, their Shopify website had served their needs well. It helped them launch their business and lay the groundwork for their new venture. But, as they sought to scale, being tied to Shopify was holding them back.
Using Shopify’s platform meant that Darkstore had limited control over its store and its customer journey. User experience was suffering too: limited sorting and filtering options made it hard for users to find and view products. None of this would be attractive in FastAF, which targeted an upscale and design-conscious audience.
Plus, operating on Shopify was getting expensive. In addition to the subscription price, Shopify charges merchants a commission on every sale. And integrating third-party apps for value-adding features such as live chats adds to those costs.
Torii Studio took care of FastAF’s internal fulfillment system with a desktop dashboard and mobile application for warehouse personnel. Our solution provided their teams with a suite of custom features that were previously not available to them on Shopify. They could now manage inventory more efficiently, supervise order and service centers and make real-time inventory updates with an easy drag-and-drop feature.
Using this custom-built solution, Darkstore launched FastAF in Los Angeles in late 2020 and grew from one warehouse to five in less than one year. Since then, FastAF has expanded to New York and San Francisco and closed its Series A funding in December 2021 with a valuation of $200 million.
So, how do you know when it’s time to pivot to a custom-built solution? Here are a few pointers:
Low-code and no-code platforms are a fantastic tool for bootstrapped founders with small budgets and those looking to test the waters on a new idea. Once things start getting serious, a custom-built solution is the way to go for boosting growth, ensuring a more secure operation and furthering your brand.
Looking to build high-performing products that scale? Contact Torii Studio and we’ll make it happen for you.