A white label product is a service that one company makes and another sells as if it were their own product. Essentially, a white label partner sells the same product or service, but, in some cases, without a warranty, or some other defect. White Label is not meant to be a derogative term, but it is worth remembering the common phrase “Caveat Emptor” when dealing with a company you are unfamiliar with. Some very large and well-established companies offer white label products. Best Buy, for example, uses Phone Power as their provider for Geek Squad and the private label VoIP.com.
A VAR, or “Value Added Reseller” is a company that adds features or services to an existing product, hence the term “value added.” This is in contrast to a company that makes and sells its own products directly, which is called “Original Equipment Manufacturer,” or “OEM.” While a company may make a computer, a VAR might configure the operating system, install software and offer tech support as part of an overall package.
A VAR is one example of a Channel Partner. Channel partners provide an opportunity for companies to promote certain products or services through third party vendors. In return, the partners get to co-brand the two brands, get access to certain early versions of a product or service, and also get leads from the partner company in order to make more sales. In sales and marketing, a channel is a way in which a vendor can communicate with, and sell products to, consumers. Many big name product manufactures do not sell products directly.
Many vendors have a certification process, such as Microsoft Gold Certification, or Cisco Gold Certification. The certification level acknowledges that the partner has passed several tests regarding skill and product knowledge, and can provide the best level of service.