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The Pros and Cons of White-Label Fitness Apps

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Anastasia Osypenko
Market Researcher

The fitness industry is being completely reshaped by mobile solutions. In previous posts we’ve explained why every gym needs an app, how mHealth solutions can increase hospital efficiency, and how profitable and popular various diet apps are. In modern mobile-centred fitness, companies need an application to compete and stay current.

To enhance your business with an app, you have a choice to make: hire developers to make a custom-made product or buy a ready-to-use white-label app which you can adjust to your needs.

We are a mobile app development company in Australia and we’ve made several custom health and fitness solutions including SmartRun, an AI-powered running app based on heart rate data, and Secure My Health, a patient and provider app for tracking prescriptions.

In this post, we’ll explain how a non-custom approach works and review the pros and cons of white-label fitness app development point by point.

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What Is White-Label App Development and Who Is It For?

White-label solutions are those developed by one company and then customised and branded for another company. Many fitness businesses, such as gyms or personal trainers, purchase white-label apps for scheduling and payments. If these businesses don’t need a unique functionality, and can make the best profits possible using a typical template, this type of development is a good fit.

An approach similar to white-labelling is building a program from functional blocks. Many app builders, for example, Appy Pie and Buildfire, are based around templates and plugins which purchasers then choose from when building an app. Such platforms generally offer no-code and low-code development. The former provides drag and drop plugins and is the fastest way to make an application while the latter allows for the coding of additional functionalities if needed.

One can find an array of fitness management software solutions offering ready-to-use, customisable apps on a monthly subscription basis. Since many fitness businesses have similar requirements, software providers offer apps with booking, billing, rating, and chat functions. Some fitness app builders provide social feeds or marketing tools as additional components.

For instance, Vint sells branded fitness apps with scheduling and messaging features for $149 per month while Virtuagym offers workout plan templates and a bookings function starting from $30 per month. A more expensive option, FitYo makes templates for trainers with workouts and a membership system for $299 or more, depending on the number of devices.

An app powered by such platforms is sufficient for two business types:

  • Gym, yoga, or wellness studios looking to provide customers with in-app bookings
  • Personal trainers or nutrition coaches wanting to facilitate scheduling

The Mindbody platform generally works for the first business types. Indeed, health and wellness centres along with spas and beauty salons are their major clients. Most apps powered by Mindbody have the exact same structure and design. They feature personal profiles and sections detailing available classes, appointments, and reviews. Besides logos and service descriptions, these applications look identical:

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Plankk powers many apps for businesses of the second type, allowing individual fitness professionals to offer exercise videos, nutritional plans, and social features to their clientele. These apps differ in regards to the colour schemes and may have varied functionality. For example, some integrate a music streaming service or a social feed with likes and comments. Overall though, these apps look very much alike:

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It makes sense for established fitness studios and influencers who don’t want to expend much effort to opt for a template app with minimal functionality.

But for businesses that want to offer more than basic scheduling and communication channels via their app, private-label fitness app development isn’t the best choice. If you’re up to making a complex solution or don’t want to be limited to typical functionality, go for fully-equipped fitness app development tailored to your preferences and goals.

Before discussing custom solutions more, let’s discover the pros and cons of fitness apps developed with builders and templates.

White-Label Mobile App Development Pros

Cost-cutting and time-saving are the basic rationales behind choosing this type of development. Fitness app makers also offer a shorter development cycle so entrepreneurs can market their product faster.

Some people believe this app development model will dominate in the future. Disruptor Daily founder Kevin Rands claims that low-code platforms are “a more efficient use of time” and the change towards them is inevitable.

White-Label Fitness Software Cons

Unfortunately, the benefits of white-label development end here. Even if you’re extremely short of time and budget, custom development guarantees efficacy. Here’s why white-label apps lose out to custom-made solutions.

A Lack of Control

White-label products don’t give you control over the code. Traditionally, you would own all documentation, design, and code, and therefore control them. MapAddGang insists on this approach with our clients, making them involved to a level where they become a part of a development team. With white-label app development, you don’t get enough information about the source code and can rarely make amendments to it.

Not So Time-Efficient After All

It’s true that the app development process usually takes a while (approximately six months for the first version of an app) and requires a certain budget. However, experienced developers know how to speed up the process if required with no loss in quality. MadAppGang once developed an application in a record six weeks.

With a templated app, you risk having to deal with numerous bugs and problems after release. Without a dedicated team that understands your particular fitness product, you can fall into the trap of constant rebuilds and could end up redoing the app from scratch. Meaning a white-label solution may represent a significant waste of time, money, and effort.

The Issue of Scalability

Regardless of your app’s intended functionality, it will need updates eventually. App updates, as well as post-release support, are standard in development. Since you will need these anyway, it’s only logical to opt for a custom solution. All the more so if you intent to expand your product; app builders don’t give you the ability to scale your business like custom solutions do.

A white-label fitness app is limited by predefined boundaries which block the possibility of expansion. For example, you will need to integrate the white-label fitness tracker with new devices or programs when they are released. When this happens, you will probably end up completely rebuilding the app.

Prioritising features is one of the app owner’s crucial decisions during custom development. With a white-label solution, you can’t change features or add new ones, and even when you can, the process takes too long and doesn’t bring about the desired results.

Here’s an illustrative example: Jira, which offers project management subscriptions, doesn’t allow its clients to set custom domains even though demand for this feature was expressed almost a decade ago.

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White-Label Fitness Products Are Not Unique

Nearly 80 per cent of apps fail. The fact that many look like a carbon copy of an existing app is one of the reasons. In a competitive environment like the fitness app market, finding the right niche and making your product distinguishable and original is vital. Cookie-cutter solutions mean risking your product from the get-go.

Developers normally integrate user analytics tools into an app so user behaviour can be interpreted for future changes. During the development process, they also test a product with end-users, and even before getting started, it’s best to set a target audience and build a user flowchart. For obvious reasons, a white-label fitness app can’t support you with such extensive services.

To establish a solid user base and make your app profitable, you have to analyse your audience during each step of development from initial idea to potential updates.

When white-labelling a product, you don’t have the chance to be unique and implement an original idea. You can get a ready-to-use solution with standard features but you need to understand that your competitors might have the very same customer offering. To bring value to your audience, you have to design a unique application.

Store Rejection

One of the greatest disadvantages of white-label app development is the possibility of rejection by mobile app stores. It would be a nightmare to find out you can’t release your finished product and make it available to your audience. Since Apple implements an increasing number of regulations and has strict rules regarding apps created with builders, you should be especially careful if you’re counting on iPhone users.

In 2017, Apple updated the App Store submission guidelines. Since then, app owners are required to submit applications via their own account, not that of their technology provider. In 2018, the company promised to harshen the rules for apps made with ready-to-use templates, putting many app builders under threat, including MindBody, which makes white-label fitness software for studios around the world.

Nevertheless, such app builders still offer services in 2019 and do it quite successfully. Templated apps can be submitted to stores but must meet myriad requirements such as a privacy policy statement in the metadata or allowing users to withdraw data collection consent via the program.

There are thousands of apps that plagiarise content, which forces app stores to reject submissions that look like copycat apps. Half-baked functionality, poor UI and UX are also common reasons for rejection. Your application should be useful and all the content unique.

You also have to provide extensive testing of your product before launch. If tests reveal bugs or unstable performance, you should fix all issues and ensure that everything functions as planned. Moreover, a finished app ready for store submission isn’t the final step in the process – you still need to advertise it, analyse its usage, possibly add new features, fix bugs, etc.

If you don’t have a team of developers who worked on the product and know it inside and out, managing the above-mentioned issues is hard. App builders provide some very basic post-launch support but it’s too limited to cover every nuance. For a long-term strategy, white labelling an application simply isn’t enough.

To summarise, you can choose white-label fitness development instead of a custom app only if you’re looking for a very simple solution at the cheapest possible price and your product and service fits into a narrow range. Otherwise, hire professional developers with the relevant experience needed to make your app and product stand out from the crowd.

02 December 2019