What is 3PL Logistics: Understanding the Fundamentals

Logistics is the management of the flow of products from the point of origin to the point of consumption. The process encompasses transportation, storage, and processing of products. While some firms have the resources to handle their logistical needs in-house, many resort to third-party logistics services to manage their supply chain operations. In this post, we will investigate what 3PL logistics is and how it may assist organizations of all sizes. 

Definition of 3PL Logistics

Third-party logistics, or 3PL, is a supply chain management strategy in which a corporation outsources logistics functions to a third-party provider. The third-party logistics provider is responsible for handling transportation, warehousing, and distribution of goods.

Types of 3PL Logistics Providers

There are various types of 3PL logistics firms, including:

Asset-Based 3PL Providers 

Asset-based 3PL providers own and run their own transportation and warehousing assets, such as vehicles, planes, and warehouses. They are responsible for managing their assets and offering transportation and storage solutions to their clients.

Non-Asset Based 3PL Providers

Non-asset based 3PL providers do not own transportation or warehousing assets but function as mediators between their clients and carriers or warehouses. They use their experience to negotiate the finest rates and services on behalf of their clients.

Integrated 3PL Providers

Integrated 3PL companies offer a comprehensive range of logistics services, including transportation, warehousing, and distribution. They provide end-to-end logistics solutions for their clients and generally have a global network of partners to assist their operations.

Advantages of Utilizing 3PL Logistics Suppliers 

There are various benefits to hiring 3PL logistics services, including:

Cost Savings

Outsourcing logistics activities can help organizations save money on shipping and warehousing costs. 3PL providers have economies of scale and can negotiate better rates and discounts with carriers and warehouses.

Expertise and Resources

3PL providers have the skills and resources to manage complicated supply chain operations. They have access to the latest technology and systems to optimize transportation routes and control inventory levels.


3PL suppliers can scale their services up or down depending on a business’s needs. They can handle seasonal swings in demand and alter their services accordingly.

Concentrate on Key Competencies

Outsourcing logistics activities helps organizations to focus on their core skills and strategic ambitions. By freeing up resources and staff, firms can invest more time and attention into areas that promote development and profitability.

Major Services Provided by 3PL Logistics Suppliers

3PL companies offer a wide range of logistics services, including:

Transportation Management

3PL providers can manage all aspects of transportation, including carrier selection, routing, and tracking. Companies can also provide freight consolidation services to help firms save on transportation expenditures.

Warehousing and Distribution

3PL companies can provide warehouse and distribution services, including inventory management, order fulfillment, and pick and pack services. Companies can also offer value-added services such as packing, labeling, and kitting.

Customs Brokerage and Compliance

For businesses that import or export goods, 3PL providers can provide customs brokerage and compliance services. This includes managing customs clearance and ensuring that all imports and exports conform with regulatory requirements.

Freight Forwarding 

3PL companies can also provide freight forwarding services, including ocean freight, air freight, and land transportation. They can manage all aspects of overseas shipping, including customs clearance and documentation.

Order Fulfillment: 3PL companies can handle order fulfillment for organizations, including managing orders, picking, packing, and shipping products to clients. These services can help organizations optimize their logistical operations, cut costs, and improve efficiency. To discover more about how 3PL providers handle order fulfillment, you can refer to this resource: https://www.launchfulfillment.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-third-party-logistics-3pls-and-how-they-handle-order-fulfillment/.

Variations between 3PL and 4PL Logistics

While 3PL logistics providers handle specialized logistics responsibilities, 4PL providers manage the whole supply chain on behalf of their clients. 4PL providers provide as a single point of contact for all logistics activities, including managing several 3PL suppliers.

Things to Consider while Selecting a 3PL Logistics Provider

When choosing a 3PL logistics supplier, firms should consider numerous variables, including:

Industry Experience 

Pick a 3PL provider with experience in your sector. They will have a better knowledge of your logistics needs and issues.

Technology and Systems

Seek a 3PL supplier with the latest technology and tools to handle your supply chain operations. This covers transportation management systems, warehouse management systems, and inventory management systems.

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) (SLAs)

Verify that the 3PL provider delivers clear and thorough SLAs that correspond with your business objectives.

Global Network

If your firm runs abroad, find a 3PL provider with a global network of partners to assist your operations.

Typical Problems of 3PL Logistics Providers

While 3PL logistics providers offer many benefits, they also confront several problems, including:

Capacity Constraints

As demand for logistics services develops, 3PL suppliers may suffer capacity limits, particularly during peak seasons.

Price Pressure

3PL companies may experience pressure to cut pricing from their clients while also facing increased costs for transportation and warehousing.

Talent Shortage

The logistics business is battling a scarcity of trained people, particularly truck drivers and warehouse workers. This might make it tough for 3PL suppliers to find and retain personnel.

Industrial Trends in 3PL Logistics

The logistics market is always evolving, and 3PL providers must adapt to changing trends and consumer expectations. Some current trends in 3PL logistics include:


Sustainability is becoming increasingly essential in the logistics business, with an emphasis on lowering carbon emissions and adopting renewable energy sources.


The development of e-commerce has led to greater demand for last-mile delivery services and speedier shipping options.

Automation and Robotics

The usage of automation and robotics is rising in the logistics business, notably in warehouses and distribution facilities.

How to Assess the Performance of Your 3PL Logistics Provider

To evaluate the success of your 3PL logistics supplier, examine the following metrics:

On-time delivery rate

Measure the percentage of deliveries that are on time.

Inventory accuracy

Assess the accuracy of inventory levels in warehouses and delivery facilities.

Order accuracy

Measure the percentage of orders that are fulfilled accurately and on time.

Cost savings 

Assess the cost savings generated by outsourcing logistics services.


In conclusion, 3PL logistics is a supply chain management approach in which a corporation outsources logistics functions to a third-party provider. 3PL companies offer a wide range of logistical services, including transportation management, warehousing and distribution, and customs brokerage and compliance. Selecting the proper 3PL supplier can help firms save money, enhance productivity, and focus on their core capabilities.



What is the difference between 3PL and 4PL logistics providers?
A 3PL logistics company performs certain logistics operations, while a 4PL provider oversees the whole supply chain on behalf of their clients.

What are some common services supplied by 3PL logistics providers?
3PL logistics providers offer a wide range of services, including transportation management, warehousing and distribution, customs brokerage and compliance, and value-added services.

How can organizations evaluate the effectiveness of their 3PL logistics provider?
Companies can evaluate the success of their 3PL logistics provider by analyzing metrics such as on-time delivery rate, inventory accuracy, order correctness, and cost savings gained through outsourcing logistical activities.