LevelUp was a startup in the loyalty and mobile payments space in 2011, when the company was transitioning away from being a social location-based gaming provider. The company is going back to its roots with its new StartUp program, which is aimed at fledgling merchants looking for a financial break. The program is specifically geared toward the limited-service restaurant sector.
LevelUp's offerings in the StartUp program include:
- Three months of free payment processing through LevelUp
- Free hardware to accept mobile payments
- One free email blast to LevelUp users near a business announcing a launch
- 250 free promotional cards to promote your program to customers
Merchants that stay with LevelUp for three months then transition into the company's 1.95-percent payment processing fee and continue to receive free access to analytics, customer CRM and additional tools.
"[The StartUp program] is going to be the thing that our sales team is promoting and taking to all the food conference shows this fall and it's going to be our main offering as we reach out to different businesses," said Kate Reynolds, LevelUp's director of research and development. "This is going to be a major cornerstone of our strategy for the next six months."
The StartUp program is the latest addition to LevelUp's growing arsenal of merchant enhancements and offerings it has introduced the past few of months.
The company's first major announcement this year happened in April when LevelUp cut its payments processing fee to 1.95 percent from 2 percent. While the change appeared insignificant at the time, it showed the company was lowering its expenses and passing on the savings to its merchant customers.
LevelUp in May introduced iBeacon support for merchants interested in using Bluetooh Low Energy technology to ping customers' smartphones within range of a beacon device with notifications for coupons, announcements and other loyalty offers.
Last month, LevelUp introduced InApp Surveys which enable businesses to automatically collect post transaction feedback and immediately respond to customer compliments or complaints. The service is similar to what Square released earlier this year in Square Feedback.
LevelUp continues to target the limited-service restaurant market, and with good reason.
"LevelUp works anywhere, but QSR is the [area] that succeeded in the sense that it has the ideal characteristics for an ideal mobile payment network: lots of [customer] frequency, lots of revisits, low average ticket prices, very little fraud and the ability to influence behavior," LevelUp CEO Seth Priebatsch said earlier this year.
Georgetown Cupcakes is the latest example as the specialty concept recently launched a mobile app using LevelUp's white-label service, which is yet another option the company offers its merchants.
"Those kinds of businesses are just so built into people's routines that it's an easy way to introduce mobile payments because you’re getting coffee everyday and grabbing a lunch almost everyday," Reynolds said.
LevelUp's goal with its standalone app as well as with those merchants that use the white-label product is to get consumers past their third transaction.
"The most interesting stats we've seen is that we try to give people the best first transaction experience they can possible have because you really have to make two or three mobile payments before you're really comfortable trusting the system," Reynolds said. "If we can get people through their third transaction, they're almost guaranteed to extend the use to two, three times a week. But getting them through that first hurdle of making at least three transactions is really crucial for us."
From a merchant perspective, LevelUp's string of recent offerings will not stop with the StartUp program.
The company plans to drop its payments processing fee from the current 1.95 percent, Reynolds said. The decrease will probably be similar to the one announced earlier this year, she added.
Will Hernandez has 14 years of experience ranging from newspapers to wire services and trade publications. Before becoming Editor of MobilePaymentsToday.com, he spent two years as the content manager for PaymentsJournal.com, a leading payments industry news aggregator and information hub published by Mercator Advisory Group. Will spent four years covering the payments industry as an associate editor for multiple publications in SourceMedia's Payments Group based in Chicago.