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Apple Custom B2B Apps on the AppStore explained

As an extension to the volume purchase program, businesses can also have custom apps built by third-party developers. Often the general public has no interest in your corporate app if it’s tailored to your employees’ needs.

A good example to better understand this distinction are two apps I developed a couple years ago: Fair Assistant and Ilaria Fashion Yarns.

Fair Assistant allows you to customize the app on your own and take client orders while out of the office. It’s an extremely inexpensive solution to a common problem to many sales agents. Obviously, although you will be able to import your own pricelist, branding is available but somewhat limited (only header, logo and email signature).

Ilaria Fashion Yarns is a customized version of Fair Assistant. There are many extra features and improved design but the core concept is the same: having your updated database and stock always available and send fresh client orders to your team back in the office. The app for Ilaria is exclusively for the company’s sales representatives; you need to have your id and password in order to use it. I was a little worried this was too limited but Apple approved it smoothly; I guess they had already come across this scenario and were planning to address it). This is classic case for a custom B2B app via volume purchase program; too bad I did it before it was a thing… 😉

A key point is the fact that the app is developed by a third-party developer as opposed to in-house since it implies a transaction that would not otherwise occur. In case you intend to keep everything within the company, you should be looking at the Apple Enterprise Developer Program

Ilaria Fashion Yarns app for sales reps login screen and region selection.

Custom B2B apps are designed to provide tailored solutions that extend the possibilities of iPhone and iPad in business. For example, a custom B2B app could offer:

– A customized user interface including company logo or branding

– Unique features or capabilities specific to a business process or workflow

– Extra privacy protection to handle sensitive data

– A specific configuration to meet the customer’s server/back-office environment or IT environment

– Features targeted to a limited audience, such as a business partner, dealer, or franchise

The process of having an custom B2B app made and delivered is quite simple if we don’t think of the actual app development (more info on how to find a developer and first app guidelines). Once you find a developer you feel comfortable with it and seems reliable/competent, provide your volume purchase program AppleID so he can enable you as an authorized business purchaser. After your successfully complete the transaction on the volume purchase program website, you will receive the codes so users (employees) can redeem their copy of the app.

A couple things to keep in mind:

  • apps distributed using this method will still need to undergo Apple’s review process and criteria (make sure you double check with an experienced developer/consultant if there might be issues)
  • due to the above, you will need to provide login credentials for the review team to actual “use” the app
  • currently only available in the US (“coming soon” to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, and United Kingdom).

You can also  consider watching this WWDC 2012 session video.

Apple Custom B2B Apps on the AppStore explained by
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