Back in March location-based game SCVNGR launched a spinoff venture called LevelUp — a direct competitor to Groupon, Living Social, and other daily deal sites. LevelUp’s key twist is that it has a heavy focus on generating repeat visitors, as opposed to customers who only stop by a venue once to redeem their deal. And today it has some significant news: it’s partnered with American Express to start allowing LevelUp users to redeem their coupons simply by swiping their credit cards — a feat that they say is the first in the daily deal space.
To use the new feature, users connect their AmEx cards with their LevelUp account (a process that you only need to do once). Then, once they purchase a deal from a merchant that accepts American Express, they’ll see a button that prompts them to ‘load’ their card with the deal. When the card is swiped at the merchant, the user receives an immediate push notification and email notification informing them that the coupon was applied successfully, and they don’t have to bother pulling out a printout or showing their phone to an employee.
This steup may sound familiar. That’s because Foursquare had a similar pilot program at SXSW, which used the same American Express ‘Smart Offers API’ (you could check-in at specific venues and have deals loaded onto your card). That pilot program is over for now, but don’t be surprised if you see it make a return down the line at a broader scale. LevelUp’s arrangement with American Express is also considered a pilot, but it doesn’t sound like there’s any finite time limit established (in other words, expect the feature to stick around).
In conjunction with the news, LevelUp is also announcing that it’s landed Levis as its first national brand to use the service. Levis is offering ‘$10 for $20′ at Level One, ‘$10 for $30′ at Level Two, and ‘$10 for $50′ at Level Three. LevelUp is currently only available in Philadelphia and Boston (the service plans to open in more cities this summer), but Levis is temporarily offering the deal in San Francisco as well.
For those that haven’t used it, LevelUp’s model works as follows: first, customers are offered a special deal that’s very similar to what they’d receive from Groupon. They’re also informed that if they return to the same venue a second time down the line, they’ll be able to receive an even better deal (the same is true for the third trip). The model is designed to build customer loyalty — businesses have to offer some pretty steep discounts at Levels Two and Three to keep users coming back, but SCVNGR CEO Seth Priebatsch says that results from the first 6-8 weeks of the service have been very promising.