Reading time: 9 minutes
PUBLISH DATE: Dec 12 2023
UPD: Jan 18 2024
Reading time: 9 minutes

Commercial Software: What Is It?

A good privilege for a true entrepreneur is knowing the new tech possibilities and software development trends to manage a business in the long term. 

The logistics of running a business is difficult. Your mission is to increase customer loyalty and accelerate revenue streams before someone else does. Understanding what the market offers can help you find the best option for your business to stand out among competitors. We’ll explore the topic of commercial software integration and how you can win when applying it. What do you need to know about each type of software? Will you encounter the challenges when integrating it? This and other concerns are what we’re going to discuss now. Let’s start. 

Types of Commercial Software

In today’s rapidly evolving commercial sector, the right software can redefine efficiency and competitiveness for businesses.

A. Off-the-Shelf Software

Commercial off-the-shelf software is a one-size-fits-all approach for businesses of different sizes, fields, and needs. It’s like a pre-configured program sold for mass use in a subscription that doesn’t require customization and is ready to be used right when installed. *You shouldn’t confuse it with freeware software; we’ll examine all the why’s later. As a benefit, due to its mass installation, every user can read reviews about the software and decide if the product matches their needs.

Examples of off-the-shelf software are the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft Office, SAP, and Adobe Creative Cloud.

Benefits of off-the-shelf software:

  • Relatively low cost. Off-the-shelf software is a cheaper solution, but it’s less effective than custom software. You don’t need to make many first investments. The only thing left is to consider the long-term prospects, select the subscription, and plan the company’s budget.

  • Reliability and quality. You can test the software for a free trial and review the users’ feedback to check reliability and quality.

  • Versatility. The developers create feature-rich solutions to satisfy the needs of more users. You may not use them all, but different plans define the features you pay for.

  • Immediate availability. You can launch and immediately use the software.

  • Professional support. As with other open-source products, you don’t need to involve specialists to solve technical issues. The software support center regularly responds to the users’ queries.

The drawbacks of the off-the-shelf product are the following:

  • No customization. Since it’s a one-size-fits-all solution, it can’t be as competitive as other solutions designed for a particular domain. But considering its cost-effectiveness, this point isn’t perceived as a huge disadvantage.  

  • Vendor dependency. The vendor can regularly update off-the-shelf products, and you have little or no control over the products’ timing and content. Imagine everything in the company set up for the current software, but big changes happen. That means the company has to adjust and change how things are done. Moreover, if the vendor changes the pricing model or something in software support, you have a few options – to continue using the software or switch to another one. 

  • Irrelevant feature set. The extra features influence the price and make the software difficult to navigate. Since nobody likes to pay for the things they don’t need, it’s good to analyze the available software on the market, review their features, and find the optimal solution for your business.

  • Compatibility. It should be compatible with your tech stack to get the most out of the off-the-shelf software.


The price is difficult to set. As a rule, all the solutions the software is used for are subscription-based. 

This way, the price depends on the following aspects:

  • the features that come by default;
  • the type of query;
  • the number of users;
  • the subscription package. 

Also, you can spend some costs connected with your system’s incompatibility.

Let’s move on to other types of commercial software to ease your choice.

B. Custom Software

Custom software development is designed from scratch for your business needs. Even if you use some open-source solutions as “building blocks,” the project is still customized. Every cycle in the development is entirely your responsibility, from planning, coding, and QA testing to the final solution. Ultimately, you get a fully customizable solution to upgrade and scale to your business requirements. 

Check out the following signs and decide if custom commercial software development is your best fit:

  1. The bigger the work, the greater the requirements. If business demands and expectations grow, you should analyze the current technologies and off-the-shelf software. You won’t compete with competitors if they don’t fulfill business needs.
  1. Efforts alone aren’t enough. If your current software slows down some procedures, you won’t be able to proceed with your work. 
  1. Keeping up with customers’ demands is vital. If you get poor survey responses, hiring a custom software development company is worthwhile. Keenethics can offer a smooth technological switch and solve your business’s concerns.

Benefits of custom software development:

  • Personalization. You can better differentiate your brand from other companies by providing relevant features and solutions to a narrow audience. Personalization helps you create a more intuitive interface that your users will enjoy. 
  • Long-term savings. Building a custom product requires ongoing expenses, yet it promises long-term results if you analyze all critical factors beforehand. It also doesn’t require license fees; you develop the software within your budget. You can validate your idea by creating a basic MVP version and, after that, scale up the product.

Disadvantages of custom software development: 

  • First investments. You should be ready to spend time and resources on all development processes. A software team should ensure the system will perform as accurately as expected. Moreover, gathering and documenting the project scope, managing testing, and providing quality assurance are necessary.
  • Long development timelines. A unique and complex product may require long development cycles. Also, choosing the right tech stack is important for the project’s success. As an alternative, we suggest developing on no-code platforms like Bubble, making the development faster and more efficient. It doesn’t require long lines of written code. Instead, you get full customization, from the app’s appearance to its database.


The average price of a custom software development starts at $25 per hour. 

C. Freeware and Shareware


Freeware is free, copyrighted software. Being free, it doesn’t allow you to modify the code or create something new. The freeware software offers a paid version with enhanced features and may impose limits if used for commercial purposes. To a large extent, freedom of use depends on the software developer. Some programs have restrictions on their use in specific environments; they can provide more or less access to the program and block the source code.

Examples of freeware software are Adobe PDF, Yahoo Messenger, and Google Talk.


Shareware is software that offers a trial version with all functionality for a limited trial period. When the trial period ends, the user should purchase the product for further usage. The software aims to show how it works and let you decide if you want to buy the full program with ongoing support and updates. It’s not free or semi-free software since you can’t modify the code, copy it, or make additional modifications without paying the license fee. 

Popular examples of shareware software are Photoshop and WinZip.

Freeware vs. Shareware 

The distinction between freeware and shareware lies in the pricing model and distribution restrictions. While freeware is free software with fewer usage restrictions, shareware is initially free. Still, it requires payment for continued use beyond a trial period and often comes with more distribution limitations. Usually, paid software provides more functional and better solutions than its free counterparts.

Commercial Software Development Process

In business, hardly any development goes without product discovery. Defining the proper stages allows you to minimize errors and use steps to get a quality product. Hiring an expert development team is the best way to save time and resources. At Keenethics, our specialists have defined roles and collaborate to achieve a distinct goal at each stage of the development process.

What leads to the development of a successful product? Let’s see.

Commercial software development process
  1. Planning and requirement analysis

First, you have an idea. The next step is exploring the product from an economical, operational, and technical perspective. Try to engage more users by analyzing the market demands and formulating competitive strategies with your development team. Elevate your ideas, discuss development strategy, and predict risks behind every objective. List the questions that concern you and find the proper solutions for each. 

Your task is to define the following issues: What is the scope of work and resources required? Consider the competitive side of your business. How does your project differ from many others? Deadlines for launching the product, key project milestones, and an estimated budget – all these issues require comprehensive analysis. Remember, a clear and well-specified project management plan increases success at times. The stats say that strategic planning doubles the longer-term likelihood of survival as a business, but 80% of companies are dissatisfied with their planning and budgeting processes. 

  1. Design & prototyping

Now, you can design and prototype. The product’s appearance is good. But an equally important issue is the functionality and smooth performance of the product. You should discuss the draft design with your team to see how expected interactions will function together. Also, create a prototype and test it with potential users. An immediate user’s feedback may help you uncover the product’s bottlenecks. Based on their reviews, you can improve the product to a finalized version that meets the needs of the end users. 

  1. Development and coding

Once you have a clear vision for your product, you can prepare the final requirements and wireframe for the development team. This stage involves appropriate programming languages, libraries, and frameworks to implement the software’s features. Developers write, test, and optimize the source code, ensuring it aligns with the product specifications and design principles. Adherence to coding standards is essential to providing code maintainability and scalability. Continuous testing is integral. Throughout this phase, the goal is to develop clean and efficient code that is the foundation of high-quality commercial service software. The development work is much smoother when well-drafted product specifications are made beforehand. 

  1. Testing and quality assurance

At Keenethics, QA specialists provide an intuitive, error-free app by analyzing software integration, compatibility, and user interactions. We guarantee constant optimization of the quality. 

Our specialists achieve a better usage rate and satisfaction by applying several types of testing:

  • Automated and manual testing to execute test cases and validate the software. 
  • Exploratory testing to check the system on the go to understand how it interacts with the user. 
  • Compatibility testing to check the performance and compatibility with different operating systems and their versions, networks, and browsers.
  • Functional testing to test the result of the functionality execution. 
  • UI/UX testing to find the best way for a product and its components to interact with the end users.
  • Regression testing to check if, after a certain change, the software product properly operates.
  1. Deployment and maintenance

Bug-free deployment and quality maintenance help us achieve enhanced system performance. We monitor errors in the code and fix all troubleshooting issues to ensure smooth operations. We get feedback by deploying the alpha version of the product to a limited number of users. Then, we update the required changes for smooth performance and release a beta version available to a wider user base. 

Our software maintenance and support involves the following:

  • A collection of documentation and process details; 
  • Maintenance-related offers;
  • Product analysis to streamline the software;
  • Understanding the client’s business and initiatives;
  • Testing and stability assessment;
  • Gathering responses and actions into a detailed report for future support.

Due to customer demand, entrepreneurs should regularly upgrade and provide software maintenance.

Commercial Software Business Models

Commercial software business models

One-time purchases vs. subscription-based vs. freemium. Some products best fit the subscription billing model, and others, the one-time purchase or freemium. Let’s see the cases when the customers prefer one model to another. 

A. One-Time Purchase

When making a one-time purchase, the clients get a perpetual software license. This model provides the clients with a long-term product value and prevents them from making mandatory monthly payments. It suits individuals or organizations with predictable software needs or limited budgets, offering cost-effectiveness over an extended period. Why? The license allows them to set up a well-working system that can be modified to meet the company’s needs. However, there is a pitfall. In due time, any software can become an outdated system that a vendor can’t maintain because of additional resources. Therefore, the clients should work with the software from a long-term perspective by reviewing the functionality and tech stack.

One-time purchases can have some drawbacks for the vendor. You get a lot of revenue but a low conversion rate. The conversion can be lower since the one-time purchase requires a higher monthly cost. Accordingly, you may gain less profit by selling your product monthly. Also, there is less loyalty than in the case of subscription billing. When clients pay monthly, you, as a vendor, trust them to pay you on time, and they trust you to deliver a quality product. With one-time payments, the vendor-client relationships end as soon as they begin. 

Still, despite the drawbacks, there are reasons why a one-time purchase works for the client. Some clients want to possess the product completely rather than have the feeling they’re renting it. Some clients consider that a one-time purchase may give them better functionality. So, what’s best for you? Let’s examine other billing models you and your clients can benefit from.

B. Subscription-based models

Businesses offering subscription-based services grow annually by 30-50%. The subscription-based model is one of the most profitable pricing models for software companies. The model involves weekly, monthly, or yearly subscriptions. Good examples are Netflix, Spotify, and Apple TV. As an entrepreneur, you get regular payments and better customer retention through this model. It also gives you a clear picture of your business’s financial health. You can better understand the growth of your business, see the profit of your services, predict the revenues your business will get, and invest in your product better.  

Subscription-based contracts are more valuable to the clients. Both vendors and clients benefit. For the vendors, it’s the way to protect the company’s financial health, and for the clients, it’s the better way to buy the whole roadmap of features. The collaboration between vendor and client has a long-term perspective. An annual subscription can help you get a better investment return when purchasing a product because software owners are responsible for maintaining solid relationships. A monthly or yearly subscription is up to you. If you know what to test within the trial period, you can try several systems through a monthly subscription to choose the best. If you’re confident in the benefits of a specific piece of software, an annual subscription is a better choice for you. 

If you choose between the one-time purchase and subscription models, you can benefit from the second billing:

  1. You pay once without worrying about updating your subscription regularly.
  2. You get regular updates and bug fixes instead of being tied to likely outdated software versions.
  3. You relevantly control time, resources, and expenses. The model allows you to choose when and if you need to update or cancel your subscription based on your business needs. 

C. Freemium Models

How can another software business model, freemium, benefit the companies?

Freemium is a business model through which the business offers the basic features of the software on a complimentary basis and charges an additional fee for the premium, advanced features. The model allows the vendors to engage more first-time users and lure them to the company’s software or service. Applying the freemium model, the company lays the foundation for future transactions. Customers benefit from using the product for free because they can test and understand its usefulness. This model shouldn’t be confused with a free trial. While the free trial has a definite time limit, the freemium doesn’t.

A freemium product doesn’t mean it won’t give any profit to a vendor. If they implement a reliable revenue idea through monetization strategies, vendors can benefit. Providing users with advantageous free features is good, but there are two pitfalls. Free users may be sure the free version is enough for them, and there is no need to upgrade to a premium version. Another problem is that users may use the free version with no extra advanced functionality.

Accordingly, the question is how to convert free users to paid ones. The vendors can offer the free product but with advertising. The vendor can offer in-app purchases or subscriptions for an additional fee through advertising. A good example is Photoshop, which can be used as a free app but offers more advanced filters for an extra cost. 

Otherwise, if users don’t upgrade the product, the company still benefits by collecting users’ data and studying their needs and behaviors. It can increase brand awareness without having too much responsibility before the users. 

Legal and Ethical Aspects of Commercial Software

When developing, distributing, and using commercial software products, you should consider legal and ethical aspects. 

Legal and ethical aspects of commercial software

Legal aspects of the commercial software

Unauthorized copying

The software is protected by copyright law, giving the developers exclusive code rights. Users should respect the intellectual property rights of the software by following the terms and conditions outlined in the license agreement. The users can’t copy or distribute the product to prevent harm to the entire company. To use software, the users usually need a license. Accordingly, if they intend to use a product in a way not covered by the original permit, they should get the additional license required.


Some software features may have patents, offering the user exclusive rights to the functionality or design for a limited time. The patentability of software can vary by jurisdiction. This way, we recommend consulting a professional property attorney to help you understand the patent application process and evaluate the potential patentability of your software product. 


Software names and logos are also protected to prevent confusion with other software products. Trademarks are crucial for delivering distinctive brand identity and software use. Trademark owners can take legal action against those infringing on their software rights. The owners may file lawsuits to stop unauthorized use and ask for compensation for harm caused.

End User License Agreements (EULAs)

Before installing or using the software, the users must sign the End User License Agreements (EULAs), which incorporate the user’s responsibilities and restrictions on using the software product. EULAs involve critical data about intellectual property, asserting rights, terms of service and updates, and limitation or exclusion of liability. EULAs are a contract between the developer and the user, allowing the vendor to reduce legal risks and disputes. Before using the software, the users can also acquire data regarding warranty, termination and consequences, jurisdiction and dispute resolution, and software compliance.

Ethical aspects of the software

When developing the software, the developers should consider the following critical ethical aspects for building trust and delivering responsible business practices:

Data security

Users’ trust depends on how robust the data security measures against unauthorized access are. The vendors should respect the privacy rights of the users to prevent data loss or breaches. The vendors must show their ethical handling of the users’ data to enhance user loyalty and strengthen the software’s reputation.


A culture of transparency is essential when it comes to vendor-customer relationships. The software owners should care so that ethical software development involves transparent communication with users about how their data is used. Also, they need to check for any risks, capabilities, or limitations associated with the software.


The company should consider the needs of diverse user groups and avoid discrimination regardless of race, gender, or disability. 


Non-compliance with the terms or hidden fees isn’t something that users value. The vendors should ensure they provide the users with clear guidelines from A to Z. 

Neglecting legal and ethical aspects may affect the company’s financial stability and legal standing. Moreover, it can result in not only legal consequences but also negative publicity. A loss of customers may impact revenue, employee morale, and talent acquisition. All the negative effects affect the company’s sustainability, including the solid relationships between partners and other stakeholders.

Impact of Commercial Software on Businesses

A. Increased efficiency and productivity

Commercial software provides entrepreneurs with many software tools and solutions, streamlining complex business processes. Administrators can better optimize their operations and automate their workflows through commercial management software systems. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides a centralized data management and decision-making platform. Customer relationship management (CRM) tools like Salesforce and HubSpot allow businesses to maintain strong customer relationships. Project management tools like Jira or Trello ease project planning and enhance task management. Commercial software for specific purposes can help companies reduce manual errors, accelerate decision-making, and, thus, improve the overall efficiency of business processes.

B. Competitive advantage

Entrepreneurs who integrate commercial software into their businesses have a competitive advantage. The software allows them to manage the workflow better and improve operational efficiency. Software tools enable business owners to accurately analyze, collect data, and report. Based on the research, they can make more competitive and strategic choices to fulfill the users’ expectations. Some tools can also reduce manual labor and thus reduce the company’s operational expenses by automating some tasks. Commercial software is great for fostering innovation and adapting to market conditions. Since technology continues to grow, when using software tools, entrepreneurs can stay ahead of competitors and integrate scalable solutions into their businesses. 

C. Challenges and adaptation

While commercial software integration brings benefits, businesses face challenges. We’ve already discussed the legal and ethical aspects. 

Here, you’ll find out more:

  • Costs of implementation, which lead to licensing fees, customization, and training expenses.
  • Integration with existing systems that is associated with compatibility issues.
  • Training and skill gaps (to effectively use the software, the staff should have the required skills and knowledge).
  • Reliability (since the software handles sensitive data, it’s always the responsibility of the owner to care about security issues).

Future Trends in Commercial Software

A. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

One of the cases where AI is used in commercial software is AI tool integration in code completion. AI makes intelligent software development possible through the use of machine learning suggestions. 

How can AI boost productivity? When developers work on a software project, an AI code completion tool analyzes the codebase, patterns, and logic. It provides the developers with real-time suggestions for code snippets or algorithms based on the task at hand. AI-driven development tools reduce the time spent searching for the right code or syntax. Moreover, machine learning tools can adapt to the developers’ coding style and preferences and, thus, create a more personalized coding experience. Other benefits of AI in commercial software development include finding coding errors and offering optimization suggestions. 

Regarding the user experience, AI can learn from their interactions to predict their future needs and offer functionality, shortcuts, and automation options according to users’ preferences. Also, AI can serve as a recommendation system. Let’s present it on Netflix as an example. AI algorithms can analyze a user’s viewing history and preferences. This allows the platform to offer highly personalized content recommendations. Accordingly, users get movies and TV shows aligned with their interests, leading to a more satisfying viewing experience.

B. Blockchain Technology

Blockchain in commerce can revolutionize traditional business processes by offering improved transparency. By decentralizing and encrypting data, blockchain eliminates the risk of fraud, ensures the integrity of records, and allows for traceable transactions. The technology is used in different sectors, from finance and supply chain to healthcare and identity management, which outlines its versatility. Let’s examine some of the ways in which it’s applied:

Blockchain in supply chain management

The technology can create traceable supply chains, reduce fraud, and ensure product authenticity. It records each movement of goods and controls ownership, making unforgeable records.

Blockchain in identity verification and authentication

Identity information, like personal details and credentials, is securely encrypted on the blockchain. Blockchain holds the user’s data through encryption. It uses an algorithm and a cryptographic key to transform the data into an unreadable format accessible only with a definite decryption key. 

Record keeping

Once data is added to the blockchain, it can’t be altered or deleted. All events are recorded on the blockchain, creating a transparent register of activities.

Money transfers 

Blockchain provides seamless financial payments while keeping sensitive customers’ data intact. Besides, on-chain transfers come with low fees and can be completed in seconds from and to any part of the world.

C. Internet of Things (IoT) Integration

IoT breaks the gap between the physical and digital realms, simplifying people’s activities. Let’s examine in what way. 

IoT can help administrators in commercial buildings monitor, control, and optimize different systems like security or energy consumption. Administrators can remotely set a proper temperature, track energy consumption, and receive alerts for potential problems.

IoT can be integrated into the logistics and transportation industries. For instance, fleet management software can be integrated with IoT devices like GPS trackers and vehicle sensors to track location and monitor fuel consumption to improve operational efficiency. 

Healthcare monitoring software can be integrated with IoT devices to provide healthcare professionals with real-time patient information. It can help them provide better care and prevent early signs of disease.


We see a great shift in how we buy and access software. The reason lies in the user’s demand and the client’s desire to respond. Today, businesses operate in a world of information technology and must adapt to new technology and the pace of the digital market. Technology is becoming more and more mandatory for competitive businesses. It provides many tools for business growth, enabling the owners to maintain agility and service. However, the integration of software into any business isn’t without challenges. Nevertheless, the positive effect the companies get from its integration is the first ally for success. If you have any questions about software development, Keenethics will help you embrace technological advancements faster and more effectively.

Do you want to create custom commercial software influencing your business?

Don’t hesitate to contact Keenethics. We have all the needed resources for bringing your project idea to the market. 

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Daria Hlavcheva
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