When it comes to their travel and expenses, U.S. businesses are increasingly choosing digital brands over traditional providers for everything from meals to office supplies to transportation. That's according to Certify’s 2018 SpendSmart Year in Review report, which was drawn from more than 50 million expenses and $3.3 billion in expense transactions across Certify’s North American customer base.
For the third year in a row, Uber was the most expensed brand among businesses, per Certify’s research. The ride hailing giant secured 11% of all transactions. Amazon took the third place for the first time with 4% of all transactions—rising from fourth place in 2017 and fifth in 2016. Lyft landed in sixth place in 2018 with 2.8% of all transactions. This marks the first year that the ride hailing brand has appeared in the top ten list. Starbucks (#2, with 4.1%), Delta (#4, with 3.6%), and American Airlines (#5, with 3.4%) rounded out the top six.
The reliance on digital brands was even more pronounced in Q4 2018. Uber finished first, with 11.9% of all transactions, Amazon second with 4.2%, and Lyft fifth with 3.4%. Businesses also displayed their favor for digital brands in ratings of various vendors. According to Certify’s data, the food delivery app Seamless was the highest-rated brand of 2018, earning an average of 4.8 “stars” out of a possible 5. Lyft and Uber Eats tied for second place, with an average of 4.7 stars, and Chick-fil-a and JetBlue shared third place, with an average rating of 4.6 stars.
Ride hailing illustrates the strong and growing reliance by businesses and business travelers on digital brands. As of January 2015, Uber and Lyft together combined for less than 50% of ride hailing transactions, according to Certify’s data. In 2018, Uber and Lyft combined for nearly 92%. This growth is closely related to the cost and convenience of digital services. The average cost of a taxi ride in 2018 was nearly $9 higher per ride than Lyft and nearly $7.50 higher per ride than Uber, according to Certify’s expense data, and the average rating for taxis was 4 stars in 2018 compared to 4.5 for Uber and 4.7 for Lyft. Meanwhile, nearly 73% of business travelers chose Uber in 2018, compared to 19% for Lyft and 8% for taxis.
Meals emerged as the most expensed category by businesses once more in 2018, accounting for 17.2% of all transactions. Meals has remained the most expensed category since the SpendSmart Report was first launched in 2013. This year, however, the category is also being impacted by digital brands—as more and more corporate employees choose to have food delivered to their offices or hotels. According to Certify’s research, the food delivery category grew 118% from 2017 to 2018. Grubhub led the way with 36% of transactions, followed by Uber Eats with 25% and DoorDash with 21%. Seamless was the highest rated food delivery service, with an average rating of 4.8 compared to 4.7 for Uber Eats.
“Enterprise-wide adoption of sharing economy services—due to convenience, efficiency, and price—are key drivers for this shift,” says Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify. “The sharing economy vendors have rapidly adopted offerings to target the business traveler and have made it even easier to consume their services across large and enterprise organizations.”