A new wave of cities, property owners, fleets, hotel chains, educational institutions, and other organizations are steadily discovering the significant convenience and financial savings that electric vehicles can deliver for their residents, customers, and employees. Many of these organizations, as well as independent companies, are also trying to offer customized charging solutions to serve the growing needs of EV drivers at these locations. Evaluating this wide array of possible charging options typically leads organizations to consider the costs and benefits of utilizing white-labeled software versus off-the-shelf solutions to power their own EV charging network. White-labeled solutions can offer benefits such as consistent branding for a company while an off-the-shelf solution may bring more standard features and customer support. In this article, we will outline five key considerations that companies should take into account when weighing a white-labeled solution compared to an off-the-shelf product from a software provider such as AmpUp.
Utility & Incentive Approvals
The first objective most organizations trying to stand up an EV charging operation tend to prioritize is getting their product approved on various utility ‘Approved Product Lists’ and incentive rebate programs. This gives the particular hardware or software solution approval to participate in the utility or co-op’s EV charging program and allows installers and station owners to apply for rebates to offset install, activation, make-ready, and other costs. With hundreds of millions dollars available to offset EV charger station costs, companies who are white-labeling should be prepared to hire and spend money to get these approvals themself. Additionally, the company using the white-labeled product may need to configure the software to work with hardware model(s) approved by the utility, which entails additional time and resources to execute.
AmpUp is approved on over 30 approved product lists across the US, giving our customers eligibility to receive key equipment and installation cost rebates for new EV charging stations in these incentive-rich territories. New charging brands may prefer to have this level of incentive control over their product while others wish to simply use incentive-ready solutions for immediate blanket approval in many territories. Utilizing existing brands who have already undergone the vendor approval process for utility or government rebate programs allows stations owners and operators to deploy more quickly, thus using their valuable time to serve more customers rather than waiting for approval on white label software.
The second consideration companies encounter has to do with payment processing and monetary transactions flowing through the software. A company building a new custom solution needs to make sure they configure their own payment processing system to manage all accompanying transactions, customer accounts, and payment details. For example, if a company wants to build publicly available charging stations to generate revenue with white-labeled software, they will need to ensure they are integrated with a payment processor who can accept a customer’s preferred payment method and meet local regulation. Existing EV charging software solutions often accept multiple payment methods that the majority of customers prefer to use, such as credit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and fleet fuel cards. They are often improving their product for local payment and tax regulation too, a growing area of regulation one cannot ignore when building a network.
Data Security & Customer Privacy
The third major consideration EV charging providers need to think through are the stringent standards around data security and privacy on behalf of customers. Companies utilizing a white-labeled software product will need to establish policies and compliance standards to protect customer data and privacy which can be very difficult to execute, and may require lengthy, expensive auditing processes. Using a trusted software provider like AmpUp avoids this added complexity and allows a site host or station owner to be confident in their software’s security standards from day one. For instance, some of the proactive steps AmpUp has taken in the data security realm are:
- – Obtaining Service Organization Control (SOC) 2 Type II-compliance. All infrastructure is also hosted on secure cloud environments which are also SOC 2 Type II-compliant. This auditing mechanism ensures the highest control and best practices with respect to the confidentiality of information as well as meets several government and utility requirements.
- – Meeting PCI/DSS compliance and local data compliance. This means no payment account or personally identifiable information including credit cards or ACH is stored in the AmpUp databases and all communication between the mobile app and cloud services is encrypted. AmpUp takes customer data security very seriously and has adopted a number of corporate policies and best practices intended to hold ourselves to the highest possible standard.
In today’s environment, many companies struggle to keep customer data secure and users of any digital product should be mindful of who they allow to access and collect their information. Any company using a white-labeled software product needs to be prepared for the work and setup costs of such security protocols to be substantial, and should ideally seek to obtain credentials such as SOC 2 Type-II, PCI/DSS, and other forms of rigorous compliance.
Station Monitoring, Troubleshooting, & Customer Support
Charge station support and troubleshooting is a crucial element to a successful EV charging business. Those building an EV charging software and/or network solution must be prepared to handle customer service calls and complex technology fixes for both hardware and software if new to the industry. One must weigh whether the white-label provider offers standard support on day one, and compare this to a pre-configured solution. This likely includes station monitoring and technical customer support for drivers, site hosts, and installers should an issue arise.
Conversely, any station owner or site host using AmpUp’s software has access to AmpUp’s customer support network which quickly and efficiently resolves issues when they occur. AmpUp’s software can also troubleshoot and diagnose a large range of problems that EV charging stations encounter remotely, including a reset of the station hardware if needed. The ultimate decision of which approach to take ultimately lies with the station owner but many decide to go with a well-known solution due to these built-in offerings.
AmpUp’s Track Record, Relationships, & Varied Use-Cases
The final advantage most customers typically benefit from when utilizing an off-the-shelf solution like AmpUp is the reputation among site hosts, station owners, and installers. AmpUp’s focus on easy activation and setup makes it among the quickest and most preferred solutions for many electricians and installation professionals who want a frictionless project completion that allows them to move right along to the next job. AmpUp’s software also works well for a wide variety of use-cases including charging for businesses, workplaces, fleets, towns, hotels, and multi-unit dwellings. Additionally, AmpUp is open to API-integrations to enhance an existing mobile application or service. APIs can provide similar benefits of a white-label solution without breaking the bank for a completely new solution.
While white-labeled software may be slower to incorporate cutting-edge features or payment standards, it can be a smart choice if the company’s charging project is well-funded to support software development, communications cost, customer service, and more. These features and capabilities did not come together overnight, as AmpUp has been working steadily for years to make our software the most available, most deployable, and easiest to use for many stakeholders in the EV charging industry. Users of a white-label software product will simply not have access to these same features or will need to build them on their own which takes much more time, resources, and employee hours than many charging providers typically expect. White-labeling always has a certain allure, but AmpUp’s software can typically meet the needs of most customers for a best-in-class annual cost.
If you are interested in seeing if AmpUp can help you power a clean transportation future, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about what charging options may be available to you.