The term ‘Fast Food’ has adopted a whole new meaning. Forget the McDonald’s Drive Thru, nowadays it’s all about ordering your favourite meal from your favourite restaurant and having it delivered to your door in an instant.

The market for high-speed food delivery services has become incredibly competitive; the recently launched UberEATS (only available in Central London) and Amazon Restaurants (only available to Amazon Prime customers, ordering from restaurants in Central London) have both decided to challenge Deliveroo at its own game. This fierce competition highlights the significant challenge that brands now face – the fact that if there’s an option to spend less time waiting for something, consumers will take it. With almost anything and everything at our fingertips, we expect brands to provide to our needs within an instant. This is certainly the case when it comes to food delivery and Deliveroo, UberEATS and Amazon Restaurants have taken it a step further by introducing a new way of custom-ordering specific food and drink.

That said, ordering from these services just isn’t the same as ordering regular takeaway; Deliveroo, UberEATS and Amazon Restaurants have transformed a simple concept into something quite exciting. They do all the work – quite literally, in some cases, as they even deliver from restaurants/shops/cafes/bars that don’t normally do takeaway (Amazon even delivers from a Michelin-starred restaurant). All we need to do is click. There isn’t even any physical exchange of cash and if you order from UberEATS, there’s no minimum order amount (Deliveroo have reduced their minimum order amount from £15 to £10 and Amazon deliver for free when orders are £15 or more). It really is that easy – almost too easy, as there’s not much stopping you from ordering whatever you want, when you want, in an act of spontaneity. Fancy Spanish Raspberry Pink and Tahitian Vanilla & Pecan éclairs from Maitre Choux, for an afternoon snack? It’s an option.    

Most importantly, the way these services work can fit comfortably into our fast-paced lifestyles. With lunch/dinner taken care of, it allows us to do more with our time. An incredible 88% of Americans expect to ‘schedule a service’ at a time that suits them* and this mindset is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, as these food delivery services are willing to compete against each other to fulfil our needs. There is also something very special about the particular food they deliver to us, as it’s taken directly from top quality restaurants and perfectly packaged. It includes much more than just meals: you can order anything from a crate of beer to a box of doughnuts. Healthy meals are also on the menu (such as salads and juices) which are not usually associated with your classic ‘takeaway’ food – but with Deliveroo, UberEATS and Amazon Restaurants, anything is an option.   

The delivery service is also something that is fairly simple to orchestrate. These companies just need to establish a mode of transport for their couriers and that’s it. If Uber can already excel at being an efficient and customized taxi service, then it’s no wonder that they wanted to add food to the equation and consider competing with Deliveroo. The same goes for Amazon Prime; a service which can deliver pretty much anything to your door within 24 hours.

But what’s next? Deliveroo promises an average delivery time of 32 minutes, however, UberEATS promises to get there within 30 minutes or less (compared to Amazon Restaurants who say they’ll deliver within an hour). Can delivery time really get any quicker? How will this affect us, as customers? Will we become more impatient; more demanding and less willing to even consider the possibility of waiting for something? Are these competing delivery services nurturing bad habits? Will this even affect our relationship with food itself, as we start ordering it mindlessly and obsessively - something which we want to arrive immediately, rather than something we want to enjoy? Will our reliance on these delivery services put a strain on the way they compete against each other, to be the fastest? Who’s next? Perhaps Netflix (who have previously collaborated with Deliveroo) will start their own food delivery service exclusive to Netflix users? Who knows – but what we do know is, ‘food on the move’ is the future. Bon appetit!

*Op-ed: How marketers can stay relevant in an instant-gratification world, DigiDay UK, January 2015

Louise Jackson-Rogers is a member of H+K’s consumer team in London.