How LevelUp Took Over Your Salad Bowl

As many as half of all sweetgreen transactions appear to be made through payment processor, LevelUp. We look at how this digital payment system drives loyalty and benefits everyone involved.

LevelUp Partnership Helps Put the Green in Sweetgreen

It's just over 3 years since sweetgreen, the DC originated darling of health-conscious lunch-goers, made the bold decision to go cashless in favor of credit, debit, and digital transaction. Although the company later reneged on that decision in the face of criticism that the policy was exclusionary, the promotion of app-based digital payments over more traditional payment methods had already made significant inroads.

Only 10 weeks after the sweetgreen app launched in mid-2016 in partnership with payment processor, LevelUp, 18% of orders were paid for digitally using a QR code on a smartphone. While the app is designed and branded by sweetgreen, the payments and promotions are handled on the back end by LevelUp, which was acquired by Grubhub in 2018.

Today, M Science's data indicates that the share of transactions processed by LevelUp for sweetgreen could be as high as 50%.

The benefits of app-based ordering for sweetgreen are clear with expedited transaction times and a successful loyalty program, and their relationship with LevelUp is symbiotic in nature: LevelUp's return on the investment of free card processing fees is predicated on successful promotions.

In order to offset the expense of processing payments for free, a percentage of sales normally passed on to the vendor, LevelUp takes a cut of first-time sales and charges a fee when promotions are redeemed.

With an estimated half of transactions being processed through LevelUp, have the loyalty promotions been successful? M Science estimates that users of the digital payments patronize sweetgreen upwards of 1.5 times as often as those who pay by card. In sweetgreen's parlance, that's a win-win-win.

For all the latest consumer and e-commerce analysis and estimates, please reach out to to stay up to date on company- and industry-level trends.

All material contained in this Insights post is the property of M Science LLC or its affiliates unless otherwise indicated. All trademarks, service marks, logos and trade names used in this post are proprietary to M Science or other respective owners. This M Science Insights post is intended for informational purposes only. This post is dated as of the date of publication. M Science undertakes no obligation to update this post. Under no circumstances is this post to be considered as an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities of any company. It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of previous recommendations. Comparisons of M Science published estimates to reported results are available by emailing M Science provides the information and data contained herein on an “as is,” “as available” basis, without representations or warranties of any kind whatsoever, expressed or implied. More information about M Science is available at