Vadim
Struk
Product Manager at Relevant Software

Building a White-Label App: Advantages and Challenges [Architecture Example Included]

Tech label

The popularity of mobile applications is increasing, and so is the number of businesses seeking to grow their mobile presence. There’s a variety of ways of how you can tap into this trend: as a business that needs an app, a software development vendor, or an advertiser. 

However, in our opinion, the fastest and easiest way to capitalize fully on the popularity of mobile is to build and sell white-label apps.

But what is a white-label application? And how can you build one, so it increases your bottom line? In this guide, we’ll answer all your questions on the topic and make things even clearer with a schema of white-label app architecture designed by our experts.

What are white-label apps?

White-labeling is when a product manufactured by Company A is sold to the end-customer under the brand of Company B. For instance, Walmart purchases ready-made products from third-party manufacturers and sells them under Walmart’s brand. 

In fact, the concept of white-labeling can be applied to any industry, and mobile app development is no exception. Let’s look at an example: 

  1. Say, you (Company A) have built a white-label Android app for food delivery.
  2. There’s a restaurant (Company B) that wants to enable their guests to order from their menu with a few taps on their smartphones. So, you sell the app to the restaurant.
  3. The restaurant styles the solution with their own branding, so it looks to end-users as if the restaurant, not you, has built the application. Meanwhile, you support and maintain the application, so the restaurant employees can focus on their job fully. But that’s not the end of the story.
  4. The app has all features necessary for food delivery. So, you offer it to several other restaurants. 

The partnership based on a white-label mobile ordering app that we described above enables restaurants to get a fully supported solution fast, with minimal investments. But how did the provider (Company A) benefit from selling the app? Let’s find out. 

Benefits of white-label app development (and one main challenge)

If you enter “how to become a white-label app reseller” into a browser’s search box, you’ll find numerous offerings, which proves that white-label partnership is extremely popular these days. And it isn’t surprising since becoming a white-label app provider has a lot of benefits, such as: 

  • You can focus on your primary expertise. White-labeling is a perfect path for those who can build excellent apps but don’t have the expertise or resources to market them to end-users. 
  • No coding is required. Of course, you can build a white-label solution on your own if you have an in-house team of tech experts. But what if you are a born app reseller, not a developer? You can enter this market, too, by outsourcing development to a reliable vendor or by leveraging a white-label app platform for non-tech users. 
  • The demand is growing. Given that the popularity of mobile apps is increasing rapidly, there are more and more businesses seeking to expand their mobile presence without investing in app development. 
  • You need less investment. Building one application that covers the needs of many businesses is much more cost-effective than designing a separate solution for each business. White-labeling is all about how one idea can help many. 

Still, it isn’t all roses—there are also a few cons of white-label app development. The main trick is that white-labeling usually implies that the buyer doesn’t have access to the backend of the application. This means little to no flexibility in terms of customization and scalability, to say nothing about the lack of control over security. 

So, it’s no wonder that once the buyer is able to afford custom web development, the risk increases that they switch out of white-labeling.  

Luckily, you can minimize the risk of losing your partners. When building a white-label application, you need to know how to adapt to the current and future business requirements of potential buyers. And a seasoned software development provider, like Relevant, will help you with this.  

benefits of white-label app development

Which industries use white-label apps? 

Buying a white-label solution can be a go-to option for businesses that need an application with a standard set of features. Typically, these are small or medium companies and organizations, which belong to the following industries: 

  • Traveling. Building a tour or flight booking app from scratch involves a lot of extra work, such as developing itineraries, writing search algorithms, and integrating payment gateways. And all these efforts often result in a solution with typical functionalities.
  • Public catering. More often than not, restaurants don’t reinvent the wheel to appeal to mobile users. Menus, restaurant information, ordering, delivery, table reservations, and the information about rewards programs are typical of restaurant apps. 
  • Retail. Shopify—the world’s leading online store builder—increased its annual revenue by 97% in 2020, which proves the popularity of pre-built solutions in retail. 
  • Taxi and ridesharing. You’ll be amazed at the number of links to app builders if you search for something like “white-label taxi-booking app development.” No wonder most ridesharing apps look so similar. 
4 Industries Using White-label Apps
Traveling
Public catering
Retail
Taxi and ridesharing

These white-label app examples only scratch the surface. Banks, ridesharing providers, fitness studios, beauty salons, florists, dry cleaners, mechanics, and many other businesses tend to buy pre-built solutions such as white-label applications or use app builders. 

This doesn’t mean, however, that their applications necessarily stand out in terms of performance, security, and usability or actually cater perfectly to their needs. And this is the key to how you can set your white-label apps apart from the competition, whether you’re planning to launch a white-label news app or payment API.

Two main approaches to selling a white-label app

So, you’ve decided to build a white-label application. This begs the next question: how can you make it available to your partners? Well, there are two main approaches:  

  • Multi-tenant approach. Multi-tenant white-label applications share a single infrastructure while supporting multiple partners. This means that you provide both the frontend and backend of the application to your clients via the cloud, on a pay-as-you-go basis. Each client will be able to add their own brand identity elements and choose features from a variety of pre-built functionalities. 
  • Backend-based approach. As the name suggests, you sell only the backend of the application, giving your clients the freedom to develop their own frontend. Since you’re handling only the backend, this type of white-label solution is easier to support than its multi-tenant counterparts. 

In addition, you should distinguish between B2B and B2C white-labeling. For example, when a restaurant rebrands a food ordering app and then offers it to their guests, it’s B2C white-labeling. At the same time, when a digital marketing provider rebrands a white-label CRM app and resells it to other businesses, it’s B2B white-labeling.

White-label app development: Relevant’s case study

Some businesses dedicate all their time and resources to providing white-label web applications (or their mobile counterparts) to other companies. Still, this isn’t the only way to take advantage of this business model. 

You can also develop an application for your particular needs and then white-label it to other companies. But how can you build a solution that is white-label and branded at the same time? Let’s take one of our projects as an example.

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FirstHomeCoach app and its main features

Not long ago, we helped our UK-based client build FirstHomeCoach (FHC), a mobile solution that empowers property buyers. The app consists of several modules, such as: 

  • Property buying plan: shows how much a user should save every month in order to buy a property within a specified timeframe
  • Mortgage calculator: helps users to find the best loan offering based on their monthly income, savings, and location
  • Deposit builder: allows users to save as much as possible to get the property sooner
  • Third-party integrations: to enable users to unlock the full potential of the capabilities listed above, the app integrates with banks, credit unions, insurance companies, and beyond

Our experts built the entire solution from the ground up. We took care of everything from selecting a tech stack to implementation while paying particular attention to securing user-sensitive data. 

FHC as a white-label mobile platform

Later, the client approached us again with the request to make some of the modules accessible to their partners in a white-label format. As a result, we enhanced FHC with the following:  

  • The ability to switch between various modules depending on what functionality each partner needs
  • The option to change styles based on the brand’s identity
  • A unique module for one of the partners

Though both the client and their partners are already using the platform, we keep working on it. Our current task is to launch Light Hub Application, which will allow partners to manage content on their white-label solutions on their own. For the time being, all content management is performed by the client’s team. 

Underlying technologies

To ensure the flawless work of the app, regardless of which modules are on and how many people access them, we decided to use React, go for a monolith frontend, and implemented lazy loading. This means that each partner can include or exclude modules based on their affiliate configurations without affecting performance. 

At the same time, our backend has the microservices architecture: we divided its code into separate services, including User, Content, Configuration, etc. With microservices, various system components are less dependent on each other in contrast to the monolithic architecture. This makes the process of building and deploying code faster and more secure. 

When all services are isolated, you can securely set user permissions and privileges while developing each module independently (which allows working on multiple modules simultaneously). 

Basic schema of FHC service - white-label app

Additionally, since FirstHomeCoach is a multi-component platform with complex workflows, we used a mono repository, which allowed us to:

  • Store all code, tests, and configurations in one place
  • Collaborate on the same project easily 
  • Make atomic changes (when the same change can be applied across multiple projects)
  • Share and reuse code 
  • Manage dependencies more efficiently (before you make a change, the technology allows you to see its impact on the entire system)

The FirstHomeCoach project has demonstrated that white-labeling is not all about basic, generic applications. The platform serves a double purpose. On the one hand, it keeps on guiding users through a complex process of property buying. On the other hand, we manage to adapt it to the business case of every client’s partner. 

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How to choose a white-label app development company

The process of choosing a white-label development company is very similar to how you hire a software development team to outsource any other project type. It’s critical to consider the vendor’s experience, expertise, pricing, communication style, testimonials, cultural fit, or whatever your outsourcing strategy requires. Still, there’s one difference: your prospect should have proven experience building white-label solutions in your niche. So, make sure that they: 

  • Know your audience. Most white-label apps target not an individual customer but an entire segment. Do you need a white-label fintech platform or hospital mobile app? The two serve completely different customers. So, be sure that your future development partner knows the ins and outs of your end-customers and stays current with their preferences (that surely tend to change with time).
  • Know your competition. More often than not, white-label applications are generic, which makes them unattractive. Be sure that your outsourcing prospect knows the competition in your niche and knows how to make your solutions stand out. For example, if you need a white-label social network app, it should be different from Facebook or Instagram. Otherwise, your project will have little chance of surviving.
  • Know the tech side of things. Since white-labeling often implies making one solution accessible to a large number of buyers via the same cloud, white-label app architecture is different from the scheme of other solution types. Find a development partner that excels at building solutions that can be securely shared with multiple users.
  • Know how to customize your solution. Application stores often reject spam applications. This means that the customization capacity of your apps should go beyond changing colors and logos. Look for a vendor able to adapt applications to the needs of your white-label partners. 
How to Choose a White-label App Development Company: Сhecklist

Looking at the examples of white-label apps they have designed previously will help you answer these questions. It’s also recommended to ask their past clients for testimonials and look at how their projects perform now. 

Summary

White-labeling appears to be a fail-proof strategy to enter the app market. And it is, but with the wrong development approach, there’s a big risk of quickly losing your white-label partners. The main problem is that most white-label solutions have a number of limitations, including the lack of customization and scalability. 

Still, you can take white-labeling to the next level by building unique, flexible, and secure apps with a reliable software development vendor—the success of FirstHomeCoach proves this point. 
So, if you are interested in selling solutions that will help your white-label partners grow, we are here to help you with our white-label mobile app development services. Just reach out to us by filling out a short contact form.

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Written by
Vadim Struk
Product Manager at Relevant Software
For more than 6 years, I've been working as Business Analyst and Product Manager at Relevant. I'm responsible for requirements engineering and management and solution implementation control.

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