Coupon Clipping has become a thing of the past, but that doesn’t mean saving money has become obsolete. SCVNGR, “the game about going places,” according to the company website, has added a new product called LevelUp which combines SCVNGR’s game-like technique into a mobile payment app.
“[SCVNGR and LevelUp] are two totally separate products with the same dynamics behind it, the same idea of making it fun to be social in SVNGR and then fun to transact in LevelUp,” said 2011 College of Communication graduate Alex Shuck, who helps with marketing for LevelUp.
LevelUp was initially launched in March with a daily deal model of buying $20 of credit for $15, but then creators switched the idea around and created a new model, in which the user would earn $5 when they spent $15 at a location. This is called the “inverted deal” because instead of buying a coupon and using it later, a customer automatically acquires the deal just by signing up.
The new LevelUp was made available for download on July 14. Using the program is simple – in order to get started, customers download the free iPhone or Android app and link it to a credit or debit card. The app then generates a unique QR code for each customer, which can be scanned at most local businesses to make a payment and earn LevelUp credit. The app also builds incentives for customers to return to a business – the more they return to a business the more they level up and earn better deals.
HOW CUSTOMERS BENEFIT
LevelUp presents an easy way to save money without the hassle of using print-out coupons. The app allows users to shop at new stores with $5, $10 or $20 automatically included. It also allows patrons to use their phones to pay for transactions.
“It’s a more fun way to pay because instead of having to buy the deal, print out the deal and bring the deal with you, you just have the app on your phone and everything’s automatically taken care of. And you get to pay with your phone, which is cool,” said Shuck.
“Redeem rewards from your phone and pay by your phone. Everything is at your fingertips and it’s just incredibly easy to use,” said Scott Sigel, who assists with business development for LevelUp.
LevelUp also has increased security benefits, Sigel explained.
“One of the things that we are still in the process of teaching the public about is that we are actually three times more secure than paying with a debit card,” he said. “With LevelUp, the second you pay anywhere, you’ve got a pop-up on your phone that tells you what you just paid for. Plus, you’ve got an email receipt.”
“LevelUp is great because if I know I’m going to a place that uses LevelUp I don’t even need to take my wallet. I can grab my phone and keys and be out the door,” said Elizabeth Rubel, a sophomore in the College of Communication.
TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS
LevelUp also emphasizes loyalty with certain businesses. The app aims to solve the problem many stores now face – lack of returning customers – an issue that similar companies such as Groupon and Living Social also struggle with. With the daily deal model, customers generally don’t return unless they believe they can get a good deal.
“On the retail side, which is where a lot of the other daily deal sites failed miserably, the number one is loyalty,” Sigel said, adding that Groupon’s return rates are in the single digits. “We are seeing around 40 percent return rate to the exact location within 45 days.”
If they use LevelUp, businesses are also privy to useful information about their customers.
“When restaurants use Groupon, they don’t find anything out about the customer and usually they flash flood into the businesses. There have been situations in which too many people bought the Groupon and no one could redeem their order in time,” said Shuck. “But with us, we provide the merchants with data about their customers such as the return rates, the high peak times, the age break down, the gender break down. We are trying to give them all that data so that they can not only be paying for loyal customers but also paying to know more about their customers.”
LevelUp has also reduced credit card fees on payments.
“On the transactional side, we are able to do wonderful magical things on the back end so the processing fees are much cheaper than credit cards and they are going to keep going down every single month,” Sigel said.
DEALS AROUND BU
LevelUp works at 171 locations in Boston alone. The app offers incentives such as $10 of credit at Kingston Station, a restaurant on Kingston Street, customers that spend $150 earn $20 of credit. Other businesses include $2 worth of credit at Bon Me, $10 at Sel De La Terre, $5 at Johnny Cupcakes, $15 at La Dolce Vita Salon and Day Spa, $2 at Angora Café, and more.
LevelUp is working on creating new promotions and incorporating the game-like features that SCVNGR is known for. One of these is called “Make It Rain,” in which businesses will offer higher incentives to customers when it’s raining.
“We find that when it rains, people just don’t want to go out as often. So when it’s raining, certain merchants that have signed up will automatically offer higher incentives to go to the business,” said Shuck.
The app has 100,000 users in Boston and Philadelphia and expanded to San Francisco and New York on Oct. 12.
“We’ve got a lot on our plates. Our company moves fast so we don’t even really know what’s next,” said Shuck. “It’s exciting.”
The company’s plan is simple – create an even better way to pay. LevelUp strives to be an easy tool for customers businesses and the community as a whole. According to the website, “LevelUp is like a Prius for your wallet.”
“The whole thing is that we are a young company that is Boston based. It’s great working here because we want to be a company that is honest and truthful,” said Sigel. “We want to be a fantastic tool for retailers and customers. I can confidential say that everyone here believes in what we are doing because we have something that is better, more fun, and easy to use,” said Seigel.