Profiting from Digital Disruption: Certify’s T&E Report Shows 2018 Winners

sharing economy D.R./Adobe Stock

Digital disruption remained a force in 2018 with brands such as Uber, Amazon and Lyft jockeying for position in the top 10 most-expensed vendors, according to Certify’s 2018 SpendSmart Year in Review Report on travel and expense filings.

Companies and business travelers are increasingly choosing digital brands over traditional providers for everything from meals to office supplies to transportation, according to the Portland, Maine-based provider of spend management solutions.

In compiling the Year in Review, Certify drew from more than 50 million expenses and $3.3 billion in expense transactions across its North American customer base.

Categories covered include the leading expense categories, the most expensed brands and those with the highest ratings.

Based on Certify’s data, Uber was the most-expensed brand among businesses for the third year in a row, securing 11% of all transactions. Amazon took 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.

Source: Certify

The reliance on digital brands was even more pronounced in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to Certify. Uber finished first, with 11.9% of all transactions, Amazon second with 4.2%, and Lyft fifth with 3.4%.

Businesses also displayed their favorites 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. Chick-fil-a and JetBlue shared third place, with an average rating of 4.6 stars.

Perhaps ride-hailing transactions, which Certify counts as taxis and sharing-economy vendors, best 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 Cerify’s expense data.  The average rating for taxis was 4 stars in 2018 compared with 4.5 for Uber and 4.7 for Lyft. Meanwhile, nearly 73% of business travelers chose Uber in 2018, compared with 19% for Lyft and 8% for taxis.

Not surprisingly, meals emerged as the most expensed category by businesses, accounting for 17.2% of all transactions.

Meals have ranked as the most expensed category since the SpendSmart report was launched in 2013. The growing impact of digital branding is likewise exerting an impact on this category, as an increasing number of 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,” Certify CEO Robert Neveu said in a press release.

He added that sharing-economy vendors have rapidly adopted their offerings to business travelers, making it even easier for them consume vendors’ services across the spectrum.

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