A Guide to White-Label Chat

If you’re looking for a white-label chat solution, this is this post for you! In this blog post, we will outline various companies in the market. With so many options available in this space, white-label chat has become a complicated market, therefore making it harder for consumers to make up their minds as to which provider to go with.

Read on if you find yourself in this position, and want to learn more about the space and options available. đź‘Ť

What Is White-Label Chat

White-label chat is considered any chat solution provided by a chat vendor that doesn’t show the vendor’s logo, domain, or any other type of vendor-specific branding.

The term white-label chat can be a little confusing. White-label chat is an umbrella term, and many different providers within the industry solve different problems for various use cases. This blog post aims to clarify the different types of white-label chat providers have to offer, at what price, as well as the pros and cons of each provider.

Types Of White-Label Chat Providers

There are roughly three types of white-label chat solutions, and you can integrate chatbot AI into all of them:

Segment Top Companies Use Case Pricing
General-Purpose Chat & [Messaging APIs](https://getstream.io/chat/#chatmessaging) Stream, SendBird & Pubnub Build any type of chat and messaging Traffic based, much cheaper than the alternatives if you have a large team
Customer Support Chat Widgets Drift, Intercom, SnapEngage White-label, but restricted to customer support and minor changes Pricing based on the number of chat agents.
Open Source White-Label Team Communication Tools Rocket.Chat, Zulip, and Mattermost White-label, but restricted to team collaboration. Changes are expensive. Pricing based on the number of chat agents.
Chatbots / AI Dialogflow, LUIS, Lex and Rasa Add Chatbot behavior. Typically integrates with everything. A few cents per request. Typically very affordable for the customer support use case
  • General-purpose Chat & Messaging APIs
    • Companies such as Stream, SendBird, and PubNub sell flexible messaging APIs. This allows you to build any type of whitelabel chat and messaging experience. You have full control over the user experience and scalability that works well for enterprise companies.
  • Customer Support Chat Widgets
    • Drift, Intercom, and SnapEngage sell customer support and/or sales chat widgets. They are easy to integrate into your website, but there are limits to how much you can customize them. It’s typically a good option if their defaults work well for you, and you don’t have to integrate into your existing dashboards. Pricing is typically based on the number of support/sales agents. If you have many agents, you’ll find that the pricing of the general-purpose chat solutions works better.
  • Open Source White-Label Team Communication Tools
    • Zulip Chat, Rocket Chat, and MatterMost all offer open-source team style collaboration tools. Since they are open-source, you can make many customizations. The development cost of making these changes can be high, though, since the codebase is typically not meant to be repurposed for non-team style use cases.
  • Chatbot Providers
    • There are several solutions out there that provide you with white-label chatbots. The top ones are LUIS, Rex, Dialogflow, and Rasa. Sometimes they include some basic chat UI, but the quality is typically only useful for testing the chatbot and not something you want to use in production. Note that you can integrate the chatbot AI technology into any of the above solutions.

Let’s go through these three types of white-label chat in more detail as we continue with this post.

General Purpose Chat & Messaging APIs

The three most significant players in this space are Stream, Sendbird & PubNub. All three of these APIs allow you to build any chat or messaging experience. They primarily sell to product development teams and don’t include any branding by default. So if you want a full white-label solution, this is typically the easiest way to go. Scott Lasica, our CSO, did a great study on the various Chat API Providers Pricing.

In contrast to companies like Drift and SnapEngage, pricing is based on various traffic metrics. If you have more than a handful of support agents, you’ll find that all three of these solutions are vastly cheaper than Drift. Stream is the most affordable of the three, and you could easily have 100 support agents on the basic $499/mo plan. In contrast, that same volume on Drift sets you back $4,400/mo – and you have to prepay annually.

Stream

Stream provides both a chat API as well as reusable component libraries which enable your team to quickly build chat and messaging applications. It typically takes weeks to integrate with Stream while some of the competitors in this space can take months to integrate. Tutorials are available for Stream’s Chat API, React, React Native, iOS, and Android. You can also view a few demo’s of the chat experiences that you can build here.

Stream offers a 99.999% uptime SLA and has an excellent stability track record. Over 500 million end-users rely on Stream’s APIs for chat and feeds.

Stream's white label chat api pricing

PubNub

PubNub used to be focused on real-time APIs. They released a chat product in December 2019. Similar to Stream they have an excellent performance and stability track record. The SDKs and Chat API from PubNub are not as fully featured as SendBird and Stream. You typically need to invest significant development time (months often) to integrate with PubNub.

SendBird

SendBird provides a chat API and SDKs for iOS, Android, and web. They provide an integrated solution for audio/video. Stream has a partnership with Dolby/Voxeet to leverage their audio & video tech. PubNub doesn't have any integrated solutions for audio/video. Another thing that’s unique about SendBird is that they support Xamarin. They also provide integrated translations. For both PubNub and Stream, translations can be handled using plugins and webhooks. You can find a list of Sendbird Competitors on Product Hunt.

Messaging & Chat API overview

Here is a quick overview of the top players in the message/chat API space:

Company Stream SendBird PubNub
Time to market Days/Weeks Months Several Months
Stability Excellent Good Excellent
Performance Excellent Good Excellent
Unique Features Reactions, Threads, URL previews, Scalability, MML Xamarin Support, Integrated video & Translations -

Open Source White-Label Group and Team Communication Tools

The most prominent players in this white-label group/team communication tools space are RocketChat, MatterMost and Zulip. All 3 solutions are open source so you can fork the codebase to whitelabel the experience.

Rocket.Chat

Example of Rocket Chat's open source solution

As of this blog post, Rocket.Chat has 25k stars on GitHub and more than 500 contributors. These two numbers are a measure of how successful the project is in the open-source community. Their technology is based on Meteor and Node. Meteor was acquired by Tiny in October 2019. It has almost all the features you would expect from a Slack competitor. The iOS app has a 4.2 review score, and the android app a 2.6.

Most review of rocket chat is very positive; the main issues people complain about are:

  • The poor quality of the Android app
  • Video call UI can be confusing and doesn’t support audio-only calls
  • Notification UI is confusing
  • No support for threads
  • The update process can be difficult

MatterMost

Screenshot of MatterMost's chat software

Mattermost has 17k GitHub stars and 479 contributors. Their technology is based on Go and React. Both Go and React are extremely popular, setting the project up for long term success. Go tends also to be more performant and requires fewer server resources to keep up and running. Their Android app also gets terrible reviews with a 3.5 average rating. On iOS, they don’t fare better with a review score of 2.6.

Most reviews of Mattermost are very positive. The complaints are about the mobile apps, and user experience confusion with their desktop UI.

  • No support for bots
  • Broken iOS & Android apps
  • Upgrades are hard
  • No unread channel concept like in Slack

Zulip

Zuplip's chat software

Zulip is less popular than the other two projects. It has 11k GitHub stars and 546 contributors. The server is based on Python and the desktop client on Electron and Typescript. Their mobile apps are created using React Native. Zulip gets a 3.3 on Android and a 3.7 on iOS.

Here’s what some of the reviews mention:

  • Solid message search capabilities
  • Threading system works well
  • Complicated file sharing UI
  • Notifications can be buggy

White-Label Customer Support Chat Widgets

There are many white-label customer support chat widgets on the market. All of them have different offerings, pricing (e.g., flat rate, per seat, etc.). Below, we’ll outline the various vendors in the space.

Intercom

Intercom is one of the first big players in the customer support chat space. They popularized the concept of the bottom right of page chat widget. Pro pricing is \$39 per seat:

Intercom's pricing for customer support chat

Note that only the premium option allows you to remove the Intercom branding and white-label the experience.

Drift

Drift is a ready-made customer support and sales chat solution. The integration is easy; it’s a single JS snippet. The built-in support for bots is very powerful. To white label you can remove the Drift logo on the Pro plan and do some basic styling of the widget. Drift also has an API so you can integrate with your existing dashboards.

If you want to build your customer support dashboard, make extensive changes, or customize the widget in more detail, you’ll run into some challenges.

Pricing is $400 or $1,500 base with $40-$80 per chat seat.

Drifts's pricing for customer and sales support chat

Drift’s Android app gets a 4.7 rating and on iOS they get a 4.8

SnapEngage

SnapEngage is a smaller chat company aiming at the same market as Drift. The big difference is that it’s more focused on providing a white-label experience. So, in addition to the widget customizations, you can also white-label the chat dashboard. It’s substantially cheaper than Drift, but they don’t provide mobile apps. If you want to white-label the experience you need to be on the \$26/user professional plan or above.

SnapEngage's pricing for customer and sales support chat

White-Label Chatbot Providers

You can use the AI provided by LUIS, Lex, DialogFlow, or Rasa to build a white-label chatbot. All three of these solutions are used to map a text message to an intent. So if someone asks: “Do you have discounts for yearly pricing” or any variation of the above, you can map that to the intent: yearly_pricing. Next, you can make your app reply with the right response for this intent.

Chatbots have seen much hype during the last few years. Many companies tried to develop general-purpose chatbots, which didn’t work well. You’ll get the best results by having an industry-specific data set to train on.

So say that you’re building chat app for property management. You’ll first want to gather a dataset of common questions and manually map those to the right intent. Only once you have a good data set should you invest in training a chatbot. Chatbots trained with a vertical-specific data set tend to be very accurate and useful.

DialogFlow

DialogFlow is part of Google cloud. Pricing is a little bit complicated, but for the customer support use case, it will be a pretty small amount since the message volume tends to be low.

DialogFlow's price plan

This tutorial covers how to connect DialogFlow with Stream.

LUIS

LUIS is part of Azure. The functionality is very similar compared to Dialogflow. Pricing is slightly cheaper than DialogFlow, but since the request volume tends to be small in customer support chat, it doesn’t matter all that much.

Luis' price plan

Lex

AWS provides Lex. Pricing is a bit more affordable than the other two options. Though again, I wouldn’t use that to decide since the absolute difference is small.

Lex's price plan

Rasa

Rasa is an open-source Python-based AI bot framework. Its capabilities are very similar to the other three options. The difference is that you can do your own machine learning using Rasa. So, for example, if you have a machine learning team and want more control over the underlying AI, this can be a valid option. Because you need your server infrastructure for Rasa, it’s typically significantly more expensive when you have a low number of requests. If your chat is extremely popular the balance might tip in Rasa’s favor.

Conclusion

I hope this post helped clarify the different types of white-label chat. To recap, here’s an overview of the different types of chat:

Segment Top Companies Use Case Pricing
General-Purpose Chat & Messaging APIs Stream, SendBird & Pubnub Build any type of chat and messaging Traffic based, much cheaper than the alternatives if you have a large team
Customer Support Chat Widgets Drift, Intercom, SnapEngage White-label, but restricted to customer support and minor changes Pricing based on the number of chat agents.
Open Source White-Label Team Communication Tools Rocket.Chat, Zulip, and Mattermost White-label, but restricted to team collaboration. Changes are expensive. Pricing based on the number of chat agents.
Chatbots / AI Dialogflow, LUIS, Lex and Rasa Add Chatbot behavior. Typically integrates with everything. A few cents per request. Typically very affordable for the customer support use case

Stream offers a 4 week trial for our Chat offering along with SDKs in various languages such as JS/Node, React, React Native, iOS, and Android. Further, Stream provides tutorials and demo applications of the several types of chat experiences you can build using the Stream Chat product – these can be found here.

We encourage you to take Stream for a test drive to see how easy and fast it is to implement into your application.

If you have any questions or comments on our findings listed above, please reach out to us at support@getstream.io or drop a line in the comments below.

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