Home DefinitionBusiness and Strategy Understanding What is 3PL Logistics Explained

Understanding What is 3PL Logistics Explained

by Marcin Wieclaw
0 comment
what is 3pl logistics

When it comes to efficient supply chain management, businesses often turn to third-party logistics (3PL) companies. These service providers handle various functions, such as brokering, shipping, storing, packing, and supply chain strategy, allowing businesses to focus on their core competencies. Unlike asset-based carriers, 3PLs do not own physical equipment, making them flexible and cost-effective solutions for businesses seeking operational efficiency.

3PLs offer a wide range of services, including freight brokerage, warehousing, and distribution. With their extensive networks and expertise, they can provide competitive pricing, efficient carrier procurement, and excellent service. By outsourcing areas of their supply chain management to 3PLs, businesses can streamline their operations, access expertise and technology, and save costs compared to managing in-house.

What is a 3PL and What Do They Do?

A 3PL, or third-party logistics, is a service provider that handles or arranges a variety of supply chain functions for businesses. These functions include brokering, shipping, storing, packing, supply chain strategy, and technology access.

Not all 3PLs have the same business model. There are different types of providers that focus on different areas of supply chain operations. However, most 3PLs are non-asset-based, meaning they do not own physical equipment like trucks and warehouses.

Businesses rely on 3PLs to outsource areas of their supply chain management. By doing so, they can gain efficiency, expertise, and cost savings compared to managing these functions in-house.

Supply Chain Functions Handled by 3PLs

Here are some of the key supply chain functions that 3PLs can handle or arrange for businesses:

  • Freight transportation and management: Coordinating the movement of goods between suppliers, manufacturers, and customers.
  • Warehousing and distribution: Storing products and ensuring they are delivered to the right locations at the right time.
  • Inventory management: Optimizing stock levels to minimize costs and prevent stockouts or overstocking.
  • Order fulfillment: Managing the process of receiving, picking, packing, and shipping customer orders.
  • Customs and compliance: Ensuring compliance with customs regulations and handling international trade documentation.
  • Supply chain visibility and analytics: Providing real-time visibility into the supply chain and analyzing data to improve performance.

By outsourcing these functions to 3PLs, businesses can focus on their core competencies while relying on the expertise and resources of the logistics provider.

“Outsourcing supply chain functions to 3PLs allows businesses to tap into the specialized knowledge and capabilities of these providers, resulting in improved operational efficiency and cost savings.” – Supply Chain Expert

Types of 3PL Providers

There are various types of 3PL providers, each focusing on different aspects of the supply chain. Some common types include:

Type of 3PL Provider Focus Area
Fulfillment and distribution centers Warehousing and order fulfillment
Managed transportation providers Freight transportation and management
Freight forwarders International shipping and customs compliance
Technology providers Supply chain visibility and analytics

Each type of 3PL provider brings unique capabilities to the table, allowing businesses to choose the one(s) that best align with their specific supply chain needs.

Asset-Based vs. Non-Asset-Based Providers

When it comes to logistics services, businesses have options for both asset-based carriers and non-asset-based providers. Understanding the difference between these two types of providers is crucial in making informed decisions regarding carrier procurement and supply chain management.

Asset-Based Carriers

Asset-based carriers are companies that own and operate their own equipment, such as trucks and trailers. By having direct control over their physical assets, they can offer a wide range of equipment and services, including power-only, dry van, refrigerated, and open-deck transportation. Asset-based carriers also employ their own drivers, ensuring reliable and dedicated personnel.

Non-Asset-Based Providers

On the other hand, non-asset-based providers do not own physical equipment or employ drivers. Instead, they maintain extensive networks of carriers and act as intermediaries, connecting these carriers with shippers. Non-asset-based providers specialize in carrier procurement, leveraging their network to find the most suitable carriers for a specific transportation need. Shippers who work with non-asset-based providers outsource the carrier procurement process to them.

It’s important to note that most third-party logistics companies (3PLs) fall under the non-asset-based category. These 3PLs provide a range of services beyond carrier procurement, including warehousing, distribution, and supply chain strategy. However, some 3PLs may have their own assets, such as warehouses and fleets, for specific services like e-commerce fulfillment.

Outsourcing Carrier Procurement

Shippers often choose to outsource carrier procurement to non-asset-based providers for several reasons. Firstly, working with non-asset-based providers gives shippers access to a larger network of carriers, ensuring greater flexibility in finding available capacity and suitable transportation solutions. Additionally, non-asset-based providers offer expertise in negotiating rates and managing carrier relationships, resulting in cost savings and improved service quality.

Relevant and efficient carrier procurement is a critical aspect of supply chain management, affecting both operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. By outsourcing this responsibility to non-asset-based providers, businesses can focus on their core competencies while gaining access to a vast network of carriers and leveraging the provider’s negotiation expertise.

Therefore, when deciding between asset-based carriers and non-asset-based providers, it is vital to consider the specific transportation requirements, service diversity, flexibility, capacity, rates, and reliability needed. Shippers who value the benefits of outsourcing carrier procurement often find working with non-asset-based 3PLs to be a strategic choice that enables them to optimize their supply chain operations.

Outsourcing Carrier Procurement

Benefits of Working With a 3PL

Working with a 3PL can bring numerous advantages to businesses in terms of network scale and reach, responsive capacity, flexibility, service line diversity, and access to technology. Let’s explore these benefits in detail:

Consolidation of the Fragmented Truckload Market

The fragmented nature of the truckload market can make it challenging for businesses to find reliable and cost-effective carriers. By partnering with a 3PL, businesses gain access to an extensive network of carriers, allowing them to consolidate their freight and streamline their transportation operations. This network scale and reach empower businesses to find the right carriers for their shipping needs efficiently.

Responsive Capacity for Changing Demands

One of the significant advantages of working with a 3PL is the responsive capacity they offer. With their network of carriers, 3PLs can quickly adapt to fluctuations in shipping volume and respond to changing demands. This flexibility ensures that businesses have access to the necessary transportation capacity, even during peak seasons or unexpected surges in demand.

Flexibility to Scale Operations

A 3PL provides businesses with the flexibility to scale their operations based on their shipping needs. Whether the business is experiencing growth or facing temporary fluctuations, partnering with a 3PL allows them to adjust their transportation and logistics resources accordingly. This scalability ensures that businesses can efficiently meet their customer demands without overburdening their internal resources.

Diverse Service Lines for Streamlined Procurement

3PLs offer a wide range of service lines, encompassing various aspects of supply chain management. From freight brokerage to warehousing and distribution, businesses gain access to diverse services that streamline their procurement process. By consolidating various services under one provider, businesses can simplify their supply chain operations, saving time and resources.

Access to Advanced Technology

Technology plays a crucial role in modern supply chain management. 3PLs provide businesses with access to advanced technology and digital freight matching platforms. These platforms leverage data analytics, automation, and optimization algorithms to enhance efficiency, visibility, and decision-making in transportation and logistics operations. By leveraging these technologies, businesses can stay competitive, improve their operational performance, and make data-driven decisions.

In summary, partnering with a 3PL offers businesses the benefits of network scale and reach, responsive capacity, flexibility, service line diversity, and access to advanced technology. These advantages enable businesses to optimize their supply chain operations, improve efficiency, and focus on their core competencies.

Integrating 3PL Into Your Supply Chain

Businesses can seamlessly integrate 3PLs into various aspects of their supply chain operations, benefiting from specialization and expertise. Research indicates that shippers prefer to outsource certain areas of their supply chain management to third-party logistics providers (3PLs). One such area commonly outsourced is carrier procurement.

Carrier procurement is a crucial element of the supply chain, involving the process of selecting and securing transportation services to ensure the timely and efficient movement of goods. In fact, a staggering 82% of shippers rely on 3PLs to procure capacity for at least some of their freight.

Opting to outsource logistics operations to 3PLs offers several advantages for businesses. By doing so, they can redirect their focus towards core competencies, such as product development, marketing, and customer service. Access to the specialized expertise and technology offered by 3PLs enables businesses to streamline their supply chain operations and improve overall efficiency. Additionally, collaborating with 3PLs allows businesses to tap into the extensive carrier networks and leverage their existing relationships, resulting in more reliable and cost-effective transportation solutions.

Moreover, working with 3PLs brings substantial cost savings compared to managing logistics operations in-house. By leveraging the economies of scale and expertise of 3PLs, businesses can avoid heavy capital investments associated with owning and maintaining transportation assets, such as trucks and warehouses. Instead, they can benefit from the 3PL’s established infrastructure, knowledge, and optimized processes to drive down costs and enhance overall operational performance.

Ultimately, integrating 3PLs into the supply chain empowers businesses to enhance their competitiveness and adapt to the ever-evolving market dynamics. By strategically partnering with reliable 3PLs, businesses can achieve better supply chain visibility, improved customer service, and enhanced responsiveness to market demands. This seamless integration enables businesses to unlock the full potential of their supply chain and drive sustainable growth.

Benefits of Integrating 3PLs into Supply Chain In-House Management Outsourced to 3PLs
Focus on Core Competencies Businesses handle all logistics operations in-house, diverting valuable resources away from core competencies. Shippers can concentrate on core competencies, leading to improved productivity and competitiveness.
Access to Expertise and Technology Limited access to specialized expertise and advanced technology. Benefit from the industry-leading expertise and cutting-edge technology of 3PLs to streamline operations.
Efficiency and Cost Savings Requires heavy capital investments, including equipment and facilities, resulting in higher costs. Enables cost savings through economies of scale, optimized processes, and shared resources.
Carrier Network and Relationships Time-consuming process of building carrier relationships and maintaining a network. Access to extensive carrier networks and established relationships, resulting in reliable and cost-effective transportation solutions.

Understanding Drop Shipping vs. 3PL

Drop shipping and working with a 3PL are two different approaches to fulfillment in the e-commerce industry. Drop shipping is a business model where retailers do not keep inventory in stock. Instead, they transfer customer orders and shipment details to the manufacturer or another retailer, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. This model eliminates the need for warehousing and inventory management, as well as the associated costs and risks.

On the other hand, working with a 3PL involves outsourcing fulfillment operations, including inventory management, order processing, and shipping, to a third-party logistics provider. 3PLs have the infrastructure and expertise to handle the various aspects of fulfillment, allowing businesses to focus on their core competencies. By entrusting these responsibilities to a 3PL, businesses can streamline their operations and gain access to advanced technology and efficient supply chain processes.

While both drop shipping and 3PL offer benefits, there are some key differences to consider. Drop shipping allows retailers to offer a wide range of products without the need for inventory investment, making it an attractive option for businesses just starting out. On the other hand, working with a 3PL provides businesses with more control over their inventory and the ability to optimize their fulfillment processes. With a 3PL, businesses can benefit from centralized inventory management, faster order processing, and reliable shipping services.

In summary, drop shipping and working with a 3PL are two distinct approaches to fulfillment in the e-commerce industry. While drop shipping eliminates the need for inventory management, working with a 3PL offers businesses more control over their inventory and streamlined fulfillment processes. Businesses should carefully evaluate their specific needs and goals to determine which approach is best suited for their operations.

FAQ

What is 3PL logistics?

3PL logistics, also known as third-party logistics, is a service provided by companies that handle or arrange various functions within the supply chain for businesses.

What does a 3PL do?

A 3PL handles functions such as brokering, shipping, storing, packing, and supply chain strategy for businesses. They offer a wide range of services, including truckload and LTL brokerage, intermodal marketing, air and ocean freight forwarding, warehousing, and distribution.

What is the difference between asset-based and non-asset-based providers?

Asset-based carriers own physical equipment like trucks and warehouses and employ drivers, while non-asset-based providers do not own equipment. Non-asset-based providers connect shippers with carriers in their network and handle carrier procurement on behalf of the shipper.

What are the benefits of working with a 3PL?

Working with a 3PL provides benefits such as network scale and reach, responsive capacity through a network of carriers, flexibility to scale operations, diverse service lines, and access to advanced technology and digital freight matching platforms.

How can I integrate 3PL into my supply chain?

Businesses can integrate 3PL into any area of their supply chain management. Many shippers outsource carrier procurement to 3PLs, allowing them to focus on their core competencies and gain efficiency and cost savings compared to managing in-house.

What is the difference between drop shipping and 3PL?

Drop shipping involves transferring customer orders and shipment details to a manufacturer or retailer who ships the goods directly to the customer. Working with a 3PL involves outsourcing fulfillment operations, including inventory management, order processing, and shipping, to a third-party logistics provider.

Author

  • Marcin Wieclaw

    Marcin Wieclaw, the founder and administrator of PC Site since 2019, is a dedicated technology writer and enthusiast. With a passion for the latest developments in the tech world, Marcin has crafted PC Site into a trusted resource for technology insights. His expertise and commitment to demystifying complex technology topics have made the website a favored destination for both tech aficionados and professionals seeking to stay informed.

    View all posts

You may also like

Leave a Comment

Welcome to PCSite – your hub for cutting-edge insights in computer technology, gaming and more. Dive into expert analyses and the latest updates to stay ahead in the dynamic world of PCs and gaming.

Edtior's Picks

Latest Articles

© PC Site 2024. All Rights Reserved.

-
00:00
00:00
Update Required Flash plugin
-
00:00
00:00