Last-mile services are the end-stage logistics involved in getting ordered goods to the consumer – whether at home, in store or via some other convenient drop-off point – and (if they are being returned), picked up again.

Although it’s currently challenging to be profitable at the last mile, the threat of new market disruptors is never far away. Uber, Instacart, and Postmates are all focused on the last mile because of the potential to control the customer relationship. Strategically important, last-mile data is rich with customers’ purchasing habits and personal preferences that can then be used to tailor recommendations and promotions… and to generate more sales.

Crowd-enabled, last-mile solutions are gaining traction in the U.S. According to IDC, on-demand, socially networked delivery services will account for up to 90 percent of same-day deliveries by 2018. Uber is already deploying a few variants of delivery capabilities, harnessing its large crowdsourced driver network.

For more on this topic, read “Making the Last Mile Pay,” a Capgemini white paper that examines the latest innovation in last-mile services. It explores how companies can harness last-mile opportunities and keep customers happy without undermining their businesses or promising more than they can deliver.

You can also read my 3PL Americas magazine article on how 3PLs can effectively set up a Labor Management System that allows them to balance customer expectation and cost optimization.