AppDirect OpenChannel
01 November, 2017

5 mins

AppDirect vs OpenChannel

At OpenChannel we make it easy to build your own app store. We help you understand the benefits and work involved before you build it. Questions like how long it’s going to take and defining your requirements are important, and we often get asked how OpenChannel compares to AppDirect. 

People usually want to know about features and functionality right away. Those are important but they first need to understand the goals for their company and what’s changing in SaaS today.

What’s Changing

The business opportunity in SaaS has attracted fierce competition, which reduces profit margins and forces companies to innovate. The number of APIs and their usage has exploded which has created a new source of innovation.

An App Store is a central place for innovation. Look at the Slack App DirectorySalesforce App Exchange, Shopify App Store and any innovative company at scale. Outside developers leverage a platform to build new applications, companies attract more users by solving more problems, and end users get more tools to fit their needs.

What Are Your Goals

To make the right decision about any product, you need to first define your goals, strategy and tactics:

  • Goals – What do you want to change? This needs to be measurable. An example is “increase customer retention by 30%”.
  • Strategy – How you will accomplish your goals? An example is “allow third party developers to build apps that improve your product” or “promote apps that make your product more valuable and increase customer retention.”
  • Tactics – What tasks must be completed to execute your strategy? These are the deliverables needed to build your own app store and deciding what outside products will help you accomplish your goals.

Check Out AppDirect

People come to us having already looked at AppDirect’s website and we encourage you to do the same. Founded in 2009 they focus on being a “platform for selling digital services”.

AppDirect homepage



What’s the Difference

Both AppDirect and OpenChannel help you benefit from value created by third party developers but where that value is realized may be the most important distinction. That value can be realized either “beside” or “on top”.

Reseller vs Platform

With AppDirect, value is realized “beside” your product. For example, Staples is an online retailer for small and medium businesses (SMBs) and AppDirect supports the Staples App Center.  Beyond traditional SMB needs, they increasingly need software, which can be purchased from the Staples App Center.

These “apps” are large independant software vendors (ISVs) like Symantec, Box and McAfee. These ISVs are looking for new distribution channels and Staples has the customer base to enable that distribution. As a result, value is realized as Staples and the ISVs distribute their products “beside” each other.

With a focus on distribution, AppDirect has a drag and drop interface that can be used by a non-technical user. Purchasing AppDirect is a more traditional experience. When your trial period expires, you have to contact support and change your plan or continue with the default $10,000 monthly plan. 

AppDirect in product purchase

At OpenChannel we believe in the power of platforms. We allow third party developers to enhance your core product with apps, plugins and integrations. As a result, customers realize value “on top” of their core product and APIs by providing an integrated developer and end user experience.

The developer submission of apps, presentation of apps and all payment models are available via the OpenChannel API. This allows companies to have their app developer and end user experience within their product or website and provide a seamless experience.

To make it easier, we also provide white labelled templates to match your product look and feel. Our process gives companies that same integrated and seamless experience for developers and end users as a turn key solution.

Using OpenChannel, customers like Cisco Meraki help you manage your IT network from the cloud and Jamf make it easy to monitor Apple devices in the enterprise

Getting company approval can sometimes take months so our “Proof of Concept” plan is free for as long as you need (actually!). You can upgrade online when you’re ready and OpenChannel paid plans starts at $1200 per month. 

Specific vs General

Another important question is “are your apps and integrations specific to your platform?”

Microsoft Office 365 can be purchased from an AppDirect supported app store. It can also be purchased directly from Microsoft and other physical and digital resellers. An AppDirect supported store is pre-loaded with products but those products are not specific to your company.

OpenChannel customers have apps specific to their platform. ServiceTitan, a SaaS solution for home services (and on the Forbes list of next billion dollar startups) has built the successful ServiceTitan Marketplace using OpenChannel. 

The focus on their platform is clear with the tagline “Make ServiceTitan Even Better”, where these apps enhance the ServiceTitan product for their users. Customers can integrate with apps like Nationwide Inbound, a tool to manage inbound calling and scheduling.

Focus On Your Goals

Looking to become a software reseller, then AppDirect could be the right path. Looking to build a platform where third party developers provide value to your users, OpenChannel may be the best solution.

It’s not about feature comparison but instead about understanding your company’s goals and strategy. With your strategy in place, you can sign up at OpenChannel for free, it’s the best way to learn how we can help you become a platform.


Editor’s Note: We’re totally having fun with the Rock’em Sock’em robots, the chance to reference our childhood was just too good to pass up. A rising tide lifts all boats and we have nothing but respect for AppDirect and all technology companies out there.

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