In the modern world of business, the reality is that most customers are shopping with credit cards, not cash or checks. This means that owners of brick-and-mortar small businesses have one more element to prepare for in their business plans: how to accept credit card payments.

The good news is, as mobile technology has advanced and the number of small businesses nationwide has grown by leaps and bounds, a number of great options have emerged. One of the most exciting right now is LevelUp, a Boston-based startup.

LevelUp states that their products and services offer businesses the opportunity to do three things: save money, make money, and learn about customers. Those all sound like pretty worthwhile activities, huh?

Saving Money:
Their pricing structure is very simple. They charge a 2% flat processing fee on all transactions, and the payment is deposited into your bank account the following day. The rates for credit card processing varies widely based on the card, but by using LevelUp, you can manage that expense. In the example given on their website, a quick-service restaurant with multiple locations saved $4,000 per year when just 15% of their customers started paying with LevelUp. Not too shabby. LevelUp also offers email marketing options through their app, which can also help you save if you’ve been considering contracting with an Email Service Provider.

Making Money:
From our point of view, the most exciting thing about the LevelUp platform is the ability to create marketing promotions to motivate certain behaviors from your customers and potential customers. Depending are a lot of different types of promotions you can run, and plenty of space for creativity. The ones that are highlighted on the website are promotions to attract a first visit, loyalty rewards programs, re-engagement campaigns to get customers back, promotions built to expose customers to your offerings at different times of day, and a campaign that aims to bring in customers when they normally don’t visit — like on a rainy day. These can take place in the customer app itself, or through email marketing.

Another way LevelUp might help you make money is by speeding up your lines through quick and easy payment, allowing you to serve more volume.

Learning About Customers:
LevelUp’s customer insights dashboard allow you to look at your customers as collective demographics and as individual consumers. You can see how they break down by gender, age, and location, how they respond to your campaigns, and even see what other LevelUp vendors they tend to visit. This could be incredibly useful if your marketing strategy includes cross promotion or teaming up with other local businesses who serve the same type of customer as you do.

How much does LevelUp cost?
There are a number of different ways to take payments. You can take them through a scanner that plugs in to your existing POS system, you can use a LevelUp tablet with scanner if you don’t have a POS system that’s compatible, and you can take payments on the go with their merchant-side mobile phone app. These prices break down as follows:

– Fee per transaction: 2%
– Marketing campaigns: 25% of incentive (only if it is redeemed)
– Scanner to plug into your POS system: $50
– Tablet (if you don’t have a compatible POS system): $200

There are also white label options if you really want to go all in with this technology and have a fully branded app developed. The cost for that sort of thing starts around $10,000. We actually published an article recently about the local salad restaurant chain Sweetgreen, which uses a white labeled LevelUp app for their payments and rewards program.

Have you had any experience with LevelUp or other card processing companies? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author: Sarah Matista is the Online Content Specialist and resident blogger at Webs. Loves branding, marketing, whales. Get more from Sarah on Webs’ Blog and Google+.

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