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Deploying iPad Apps for Distributors – Pricing and Costs

sales app pricing


You want them to like to you. You want to support them. You want to help them sell your products. That’s how you feel when you think about the dollars it might cost you to deploy an iPad app for your distributors and dealers.

But what is it gonna cost you?

The short answer is it depends.

It depends on what the heck you sell and what it will take to get your dealers to take notice.

Kinda like your car, sometimes you need a mini-van to haul the kids to soccer, but you bought that SUV because it looks a whole lot cooler.

A balance between what you needed and what it takes for other people to notice.

So, when it comes to giving an iPad app to your dealers and OEM partners—consider what you’re willing to bet on your corporate image. You may think your dealers need a mini-van crammed full everything you can throw at them, but they will probably want to drive around in something that makes them look awesome.

That’s because they are gonna be using the app:

  • Every time they meet with their customers
  • Every time they go to trade shows
  • Every time they go to a building site 

We often see manufacturers very confused when it comes to deploying apps that can reach their distributor network, which results in paralysis back into the status quo of mailing catalogs and boxes of brochures.

You’re mailing catalogs and brochures right now, aren’t you?

To help you avoid this paralysis, let’s look at some key variables that affect the cost of every iPad sales app and some that are specific to distributor and dealer networks:

  • The number of dealer reps (200 or 10,000?)
  • The sophistication of the manufacturers product mix… 1000s of SKUs vs. large complex machines
  • The image the app portrays (Whether the iPad app needs to have your branding and corporate image or your dealers demand their own branding)
  • The manufacturers connection with distributor reps (Can you talk to them directly or is there a barrier?)
  • The amount of effort the manufacturer has to put in update sales materials in the app
  • OS upgrades. Anyone who’s had smart phone knows you have to constantly upgrade its operating systems. And iPad apps, of course, must also be upgraded every time too.
  • Feature upgrades and additions. Inevitably, your distributors will ask for new and different features. Those features (and what it takes to code them) will drive up the cost.

So, the first key is to understand what your distributors need and will allow.

Then, use that set of parameters to determine the best sales app to match those needs.

After you have that information, we can tell you exactly how much an iPad sales app costs to support them.

Let’s look at some potential options for distributor apps and some ballpark costs. Think Outback vs. Mini-van.
1.) Simple web-only file sharing app

designed for manufacturers just getting started. If you want to test out an iPad sales app with a few dealer reps, this is the ticket.

Basically, these are limited by their inability to access files without Internet.

Examples might include Dropbox, Box, your web-based file sharing system and the manufacturer’s website.

Pricing and costs range from free to $5,000 per year, depending on need. Don’t forget your cost associated with supporting the updating of materials, though.

Positives – Inexpensive, fast to try, common apps and websites are familiar to dealers already.

Negatives – Manufacturers’ files are not available without Internet, no branding, no tracking to see who’s using it, and no warm fuzzy feeling from dealers that you bought them a cool new tool.
2.) Complex iPad sales app

 designed as sales tools. Complex apps are fully equipped for manufacturers with world-wide dealer networks that may range from 100s to 1000s.

These apps are large, scalable, and flexible to support different sales channels and multiple languages.

Everything is branded, private and secure to meet high corporate standards.

Pricing and Costs – $10,000s to $100,000s for all the bells and whistles.

Positives – Everything is available offline. Easy to update products and materials. Makes the manufacturer look technologically ahead of the curve.  Service and support are present to help manufacturers distribute materials and the app.  Can be branded for both distributors and/or the manufacturer.  Made to handle both 1000s of SKUs and complex file types. Can be deployed via MDM or in the AppStore.

Negatives – Cost…We’ll just leave it at that.

About J. Rusty Bishop, PhD

I've spent the last 5 years helping great brands create amazing experiences for their sales teams during one on one sales interactions. Helping sales people do their job is my passion. When I'm not working, I am on the ocean fishing in San Diego, Ca.