What Is a 3PL?
What Are Types of 3PL Providers?
- FTL freight shipping
- LTL freight shipping
- Reverse logistics
- Order processing
- Inventory management
- Processing returns
- Order customization
- Customer service
What Are the Top 3PLs by Size and Revenue?
The top 3PL companies globally by size and gross logistics revenue/turnover, according to Armstrong & Associates, Inc., include the following:
- Kuehne + Nagel
- DHL Supply Chain & Global Forwarding
- DB Schenker
- C.H. Robinson
Armstrong & Associates provides 3PL market research and consulting, compiling an annual list of the top 50 global third-party logistics providers. Armstrong & Associates compiles a yearly list of the top 3PL firms in the U.S., which includes the following:
- C.H. Robinson
- UPS Supply Chain Solutions
- Kuehne + Nagel (Americas)
- J.B. Hunt
What Solutions Do 3PLs Provide?
- Inventory Management: Visibility into inventory and the ability to manage it.
- Split Inventory: Distributed inventory between different warehouses.
- B2B and DTC Fulfillment: Managing both B2C and B2B types of fulfillment for multichannel logistics.
- Kitting and Customization: Custom packaging, notes, or other personalized experiences.
- Fast Shipping: Offering two-day and free shipping options to satisfy customers.
- International Fulfillment: Scaling to global markets.
- Returns Management: Handling returns and returning items to inventory.
- Analytics: Offering analytics tools to track data and gain insights.
When to Use a 3PL
3PL vs. 4PL: What’s the Difference?
Benefits of Using 3PLs
- Wholesale prices: Outsourcing with a 3PL allows merchants to buy products in advance at wholesale prices, saving on the cost of each one.
- Product sourcing options: Businesses can be flexible in sourcing products from numerous manufacturers, combining them in a single warehouse, and shipping them together. This method provides more options, flexibility, and cost savings.
- Ability to scale: A 3PL allows a business to scale its operations without purchasing warehouses, hiring more employees, or adding to in-house processes and technology.
- Fast delivery: Choosing a 3PL with strategic warehouse locations enables businesses to fulfill orders and deliver them quickly.
- A better return process: A 3PL can handle returns, taking over the customer service aspect of a product return, processing the returns, and adding the items back into inventory when possible.
How a Transportation Management System Helps Shippers and 3PLs
How a TMS helps 3PLs manage transportation:
- Automating repetitive, labor-intensive logistics tasks.
- Creating real-time visibility for managing supply chains.
- Collecting data and turning it into business intelligence to improve performance.
How a TMS helps shippers manage 3PLs:
- Providing tools that help with all logistics stages.
- Offering Final Mile service that optimizes the final stage of delivery.
- Centralizing data to manage claims.