Restaurant App Development: Choosing Between Custom-built Apps & White-label Apps

Restaurant App Development: Choosing Between Custom-built Apps & White-label Apps

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The Ultimate Guide to Building an Effective Restaurant Mobile Ordering App  DOWNLOAD FREE

52% of diners trust a restaurant’s mobile app over a third-party delivery service and 74% said they wish more restaurants would offer a delivery service of their own. (upmenu)

In our interconnected digital world ‘convenience’ and ‘mobile technology’ are the key ingredients to a restaurant business’s success. Realizing most of their potential customers are on mobile, in order to woo them restaurant establishments are increasingly adopting a mobile ordering system to stay competitive and appease the digital natives.

However, when considering building a restaurant mobile ordering app of your own, as a restaurateur you might find yourself on the horns of a dilemma. There are generally two options to choose from i.e a custom-built mobile ordering app versus going with a white-label mobile app. 

Truth is, it isn’t even that difficult a decision if you have an in-depth knowledge of the pros and cons. Let’s review each option and derive a conclusion based on logic. 

Custom-built Apps vs. White Label Apps

Before we critically review the options on the menu and compare each item, let’s shed some light on each option, understand what each option is.

So what are white label app solutions?

Albeit, this option has ‘the white’ in it, it is far from being the Gandalf-the-White of mobile app development.

A white-label mobile app is a pre-configured one and is developed for a certain type of business; all you have to do now is rename it so it aligns with your restaurant needs and make it look as though you built it. They aren’t very costly, but then they don’t exactly help offer the optimum experience.

The goal of white-label app development is to create a product that can be utilized by a variety of businesses with minimum change. You may have seen countless apps with a recurrent UI/UX.

White label apps are typically popular among startups searching for a low-cost way to join the mobile market. Startups that aren’t ready to invest a king’s ransom on a custom-built app. Most big brands and businesses opt for a more customized and original solution. Let’s do a birds-eye-view of custom apps.

What are custom-built apps?

Custom-built apps may not have ‘the white or gray’ in the name but they are indeed the Gandalf-the-white of mobile apps. The custom mobile apps as the name suggests are built from the ground up. Here’s what happens, should you choose to opt for this option, you will have to hunt for and approach a mobile app development partner like CitrusBits that will build you a restaurant mobile ordering app keeping in mind your business objectives so the said app meets your brand requirements.

In this case, the mobile app agency will not only build you a mobile app but also understand your restaurant’s kitchen technology and help integrate it with your existing back-end technology stack.


CitrusBits, for instance, not only designed a mobile ordering app for Urban Plates to help them deliver a wholesome digital restaurant experience, but also integrated the app with their existing backend POS, menu, delivery, and payment systems.

Restaurant App Development: Choosing between a custom built app and white label app
Want to check out the custom restaurant mobile ordering app CitrusBits built for Urban Plates? Click here!

Let’s compare the options to help you make a better decision.

White Lable Apps vs. Custom-built Apps: Which option should you opt for? 

Here are the pointers of white-label mobile apps versus custom-built apps discussed in detail. 

1. Customization

White-label apps may be less heavy on your pocket, but the biggest disadvantage of white-label apps is that they don’t allow for much room for customization. As mentioned above, these applications are created by white labeling corporations as general solutions for businesses throughout the industry. As a result, if you choose a white-label app, it will only have industry-standard functionality, with limited customization choices for your unique brand experience or menu subtleties.

You may not always be able to include popular gamification-based loyalty/rewards features, geo-targeted push notifications, or even nested menus that your existing consumers are comfortable with.

A custom app on the other hand will be built keeping in mind your business objectives so it fits the brand requirements. And these days restaurants are adding all sorts of features to stand out from their competitors. Starbucks’ loyalty and reward program is an excellent example. Therefore, this option sits better with restaurant app development.

The lack of customization alone outweighs the ‘low-cost’ factor. But let’s continue reviewing why custom-built apps are the real winners here!

2. Design

If you select a free or low-cost app builder, your options for color, styles, and visuals that may be included in the design will be curtailed. It will be challenging to truly represent your restaurant brand at its finest, as well as to set yourself apart from other firms that have established apps on the same platforms.

The recurrent designs and lack of exclusivity are another reason why we suggest a custom-built restaurant ordering app for your restaurant business. Given the fact that you’re looking to establish and promote your restaurant’s brand identity.

The lack of design freedom is yet another most prominent aspect of white-label solutions that makes them rather unattractive. With White-label, you must always make do with the design that has been chosen for you, with little to no room for your own individual concepts.

The Ultimate Guide to Building an Effective Restaurant Mobile Ordering App

3. Costs

There are no ongoing costs involved with custom-built apps.

If you opt to invest in a custom-designed app, the design and development of your app is only a one-time investment. Of course, you’ll be able to update or add features to your app at a later date for payment, but unlike white-label applications, you won’t be locked into membership costs. Perhaps the only pro to white-label apps is that they will be less costly (because of a lack of customized features that might actually be great for your restaurant branding and promotion but no pressure.)

4. Time-frame & Security

Another advantage (that hardly matters) is that white-label apps are pre-written and designed generic apps and with altering you can make them look like they represent your brand, so the time required is pretty short in comparison to a custom-built app.

Custom-built apps are built from scratch; proper planning and execution go into their development hence, the time frame in comparison is generally pretty wide. And building a restaurant app is no picnic in the park; from UI/UX to adding ‘THE’ right features that reflect your brand and bring you more customers calls for a dedicated time span.

As far as security is concerned, white-label apps are predesigned requiring minor altering, hence they are tried and tested and generally come bearing a lesser risk of bugs and errors.

As for custom-built apps, the security factor depends on your mobile app development partner. If you select the best mobile app development partner like you choose a perfect pair of shoes, any bugs or security kerfuffles can be easily dodged.

5. Scalability & Maintenance

White-label apps take a hit here yet again. They may seem a safer option guaranteed the little investment typically required, they aren’t exactly scalable. Still thinking of a white label solution?

With white-label, if your app was built for iOS, then that’s the only platform it will run on. It won’t be scaled for Android unless your white-label vendor wakes up one day and decides to scale it for android as well.

As far as maintenance goes, with white-label you don’t exactly have to worry about the maintenance. On the contrary, with custom apps, maintenance is handled by your mobile app development partner. For instance, at CitrusBits our team tests each component of your mobile app, whenever a new element is added or an existing one is modified or altered, to deliver only the best and robust end results. We know our code and have complete power over it. Our hankering for perfection is what motivates us to steer the development process in the best and most agile way.

Conclusion: Custom-built apps are the obvious winners!

Yes, you can opt for a white-label mobile app solution but will it be scalable? Will it allow room for customization? Will it be able to offer a personalized experience to your loyal customers? A hard ‘No’.

Features like loyalty programs, gamification, geo-targeted push notifications, and many other features like contactless delivery or curbside are a must these days in order for restaurants to stay miles on top of the competition and be distinguished. Without these features in your arsenal, the chances of you beating your competition are close to none.

If you’re still confused about which option to go with for your restaurant app, you can always reach out to CitrusBits for a free consultation prior to decision-making. We have years of experience with building and designing business-critical mobile app solutions for enterprises as well as startups and we might be able to help you walk out of your mobile app dilemma.