A guide to white label apps, what they are, how they can help your business, what to beware of and how to choose a trustworthy service provider.
With the increased standardization of software services and the crystallization of business domains in terms of digital technology, a white label app is a cost-effective means to bring tried and tested software solutions to an existing brand. What are the pros and cons of this approach, and how can you be sure of choosing a reliable service provider?
What Does White Label Mean?
‘White label’ is a term relating to any product or service that is produced in generic form by one company for resale by another under their own brand name, design and ownership. The term stems originally from the use of white labels on unbranded vinyl records before marketing or promotional opportunities had been decided upon.
Any mass-produced product that has gained a level of standardisation is susceptible to white label production. Supermarket own-brand goods are a common example. Nowadays, financial products also often run through generic services. However, any well-defined solution with a known or predicted market position is suitable. Increasingly, software services and apps are also being considered in these terms.
What is a White Label App?
A white label app is an app that responds to a well-defined business opportunity with standardised processes. It suits a company or brand that does not need to invest in bespoke software production but still needs to market its ‘own’ app. This may be for reasons of brand awareness, geographical specificity or other marketing considerations.
For services such as dating and communications, for example, white label apps are a natural fit. The basic requirements for such services are consistent across different groups, subject to minor configuration changes. However, such apps often work best where the app shares a point of commonality with its users; an ethos, locale or interest.
That is why we at Dua are internationalising our platform and offering it as a white label app. Our core mission is to connect the Albanian diaspora community globally, helping them to make contacts in a dispersed world. However, the approach will also be successful with other communities sharing the same issues.
The Two Types of White Label App
The two types of white label app are distinguished by the underlying architecture and hosting. The first is the simple duplication of a generic app, with branding and customization as required. The forking of the code-base means that each derived app is fully independent of the original. This can be useful for greater customization but demands more in maintenance.
The alternative is known as multi-tenancy and is more widely used. Here, the software runs as a service (SaaS), supporting multiple users or ‘tenants’. It is still configurable on a client-by-client basis, and appears, for each tenant, as a standalone app. However, the underlying platform is shared.
Multi-tenancy means that any improvements and bug fixes are automatically shared by all the tenant apps at once, simplifying ongoing maintenance. Since multi-tenant white label apps are offered as a service, there’s no need for independent hosting and support worries, reducing management overheads.
Benefits of a White Label App
There are numerous factors in favor of white label apps. In brief, these are:
Reduced Software Development Costs
Using a white label app means that you don’t need to procure coding resources. Whether in the form of an in-house software development team, or an outsourced development company, the costs of software production quickly mount up. A white label app bypasses this process almost entirely.
Software development is more than coding, and incurs many risks. It involves analysis, design, development and testing phases – all resource-intensive. It is also difficult to specify accurately the costs of a bespoke project, particularly when complex. Mistakes and mishaps are notoriously common and harder to predict.
Software development costs are not simply financial. A complex project can take many months or even years to come to fruition. This is time that could be better spent on promotion, gaining customers and expanding the business. There is also no guarantee that the business requirements and the software plan have not diverged significantly over the course of the project.
A white label app has known functionality and simply requires re-branding and minor customisations. This means that the time-to-market of the new service is vastly reduced. It also means that the typical ‘snags’ involved in a custom software project are much less likely, so the new service can hit the ground running.
Lower Maintenance Risks
As well as development and integration difficulties, bespoke software bears the costs, in time and money, of maintenance. These are largely avoided by white label apps, not least because the software is likely more reliable to start with. Also with a dedicated team to manage the app itself, any issues are much more quickly identified and resolved.
This no-maintenance benefit is particularly strong with the SaaS multi-tenant form of white label app, where bug fixes and improvements are deployed on the single shared instance. Any maintenance headaches at the client end are, therefore, virtually eliminated.
A Proven Product
A white label app from a reliable and trusted producer is tried and tested. It has likely already been deployed in numerous similar situations and will, thus, have proven value. This means that its introduction is far less risky in its own terms. Business forecasts will be more reliable and outages or failures less likely.
Of course, this depends on sourcing your white label app from a reliable provider. The choice of service, therefore, is key. It is important to look at the service’s proven track record and its existing convergence with your business goals.
Full Brand Identity
A true white label app allows full brand customization. From the end user’s point of view, it will be indistinguishable from a bespoke software product. Meanwhile, it will retain all the benefits of a generic product.
The important distinction here is between white label apps and branded generic apps. While much internal office work relies on generic applications, the company’s core offering to customers benefits from specific brand ownership. It also helps to have terminological, regional or language-based customization, all of which are supported by a white label app.
Possible Difficulties with White Label Apps
Despite the above benefits, there are some potential concerns that buyers of white label solutions should be aware of. Mitigation of these concerns is an important factor in the choice of provider.
Data Separation, Ownership and Access
Since most effective white label apps are offered as SaaS, customer data is stored in the cloud. Depending on the nature of the business involved, this may be sensitive. At any rate, like all data in the modern economy, it is valuable, and users will need to be reassured in several ways:
1. It is important, in a multi-tenancy system, that each tenant’s data is separate from the others’. For full security, this needs to be enforced in the underlying architecture of the system to avoid being accidentally overridden.
2. The service provider must be reliable in terms of data transmission and security, using appropriate encryption to ensure client confidentiality.
3. The client will want to be assured that all data is fully exportable when required and is not locked into inaccessible legacy formats or platforms.
Limits to Customization
While brand presence is important for white label software over branded generic offerings, there are limits to what can be achieved in terms of customization. Less flexible platforms may also only offer limited templates for visual branding. It is important therefore to assess the flexibility of any potential white label service.
In terms of functional flexibility, we have referred specifically to business domains where that functionality is relatively well-defined and universal. Clearly, that is not the case for every area of operation and, in some cases, bespoke software would have to be considered. Attempted customizations beyond the anticipated scope can be risky.
App Store Acceptance
Mobile apps requiring acceptance by the app store may risk rejection. This is because app store guidelines have been designed to reduce the proliferation of spam or cloned apps. Of course, bespoke apps are also subject to vetting in terms of quality and uniqueness, so it is not the case that other apps are necessarily given an easy ride.
Scalability and Upgrades
Since the core functionality of the white label app is provided as-is, scalability may be an issue in some cases. Business requirements may change or expand. For example, if you rethink your customer workflow or your user-base increases 100-fold. A white label app may not necessarily be able to accommodate such changes.
Again, however, a lot here depends on the nature of the core business and the inherent capacity of the white label service. A provider with well-established and flexible software will mitigate these risks, so this need not necessarily be a concern.
Perhaps the broadest level consideration that buyers of white label apps will be concerned with is trust in the platform. Earlier, we mentioned that the service’s reliability, maintenance and quality need not be of concern to the client. This benefit, however, works the other way if you don’t trust your provider.
In many ways, however, this is the same concern as clients will have in any business relationship. The quality of the service can, therefore, be assessed in quite general terms. For example, consider the track record and proven reliability in relevant domains.
There are more specific considerations for software services, of course. For example, provisions for data backup and recovery can be assessed. Defined security measures, as well as maintenance plans and support responsiveness, need to be questioned. Customer testimonials can be useful, as well as free trials where available.
White Label Opportunities with Dua
Dua is an expanding enterprise, currently targeting the expansive global Albanian community while looking to reach out to other groups with similar needs and concerns. White label apps will, therefore, be an important resource for securing other demographics.
If you want to know more about Dua’s offering and whether it could offer white label opportunities for your business, please use our contact form. Our customer service experts are always happy to address any questions you have about our offering as well as future developments.