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What is Third Party Logistics? – Definition

What is Third Party Logistics? – Definition

Third-party logistics (3PL) is a term that has gained a lot of attention in recent years, as more businesses have become aware of the need for efficient and cost-effective supply chain management. But what exactly does 3PL mean and how can it benefit your business? In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at third-party logistics, exploring its definition and benefits, as well as the challenges that come with outsourcing to a third-party provider. By the end, you’ll be well on your way to understanding 3PL and how it can help your organization optimize its supply chain.

What is Third Party Logistics?

Third party logistics (3PL) is the process of outsourcing the storage and transportation of goods to a third party service provider. 3PL providers typically specialize in one or more areas of logistics, such as transportation, warehousing, or packaging. By partnering with a 3PL company, businesses can free up time and resources that would otherwise be devoted to managing their own logistics operations.

There are many benefits to using a third party logistics provider, including:

-Improved efficiency: 3PL providers have the expertise and resources needed to efficiently manage logistics operations. This can lead to improved service levels and lower costs for businesses.
-Flexibility: 3PL providers can offer customized solutions that meet the specific needs of businesses. This flexibility allows businesses to scale their operations up or down as needed.
-Reduced risk: When businesses outsource their logistics operations to a third party, they transfer the risk of those operations to the 3PL provider. This can protect businesses from unexpected costs or delays.

The History of Third Party Logistics

Third Party Logistics (3PL) has a long and varied history dating back to early trade and transportation. The term “3PL” was coined in the 1970s by the military to describe contractors who provided logistics services during the Vietnam War. In the 1980s, 3PL emerged as a business model for companies looking to outsource their logistics functions. Today, 3PL is a $1.3 trillion industry that plays an essential role in global supply chains.

Early History

The origins of 3PL can be traced back to early trade and transportation. Throughout history, there have always been middlemen who facilitated trade by arranging for the transport of goods. In ancient times, these middlemen were known as merchants or caravan leaders. Later on, they came to be known as shippers, forwarders, and brokers.

The modern concept of 3PL developed in the 1970s when the US military outsourced its logistics operations to private contractors during the Vietnam War. These contractors were responsible for managing the complex supply chain needed to support troops in Vietnam. After the war, many of these contractors transitioned into the commercial world and began offering 3PL services to businesses.

Today’s 3PL Industry

The 3PL industry has undergone tremendous growth in recent years. According to one estimate, it is now worth $1.3 trillion and continues to grow at a rate of 6-8% per year. The industry has been driven by globalization, e

The Different Types of Third Party Logistics

There are different types of Third Party Logistics providers (3PL), each with their own unique services and capabilities. Here is a brief overview of the most common types of 3PLs:

Full-service 3PLs: These providers offer a comprehensive suite of logistics services, from transportation and warehousing to value-added services such as packaging and inventory management. Full-service 3PLs are ideal for businesses that need a one-stop solution for all their logistics needs.

Transportation 3PLs: As the name suggests, these providers specialize in transportation management, and can provide a full range of transportation services including truckload, less than truckload, intermodal, and airfreight. Transportation 3PLs are a good option for businesses that need help managing their inbound and outbound shipments.

Warehousing 3PLs: These providers offer storage and distribution services, and can help businesses with tasks such as order fulfillment, inventory management, and warehousing. Warehousing 3PLs are a good fit for businesses that need assistance with storing and distributing their products.

Value-added 3PLs: These providers offer specialized services such as packaging, kitting, assembly, and customization. Value-added 3PLs are ideal for businesses that need help with product customization or other value-added services.

Pros and Cons of Third Party Logistics

There are many pros and cons of third-party logistics to consider when determining if this type of outsourcing is the right move for your company. The advantages include having access to a larger network of resources, as well as gaining economies of scale and scope. However, there can also be downsides to working with a third-party logistics provider, such as losing some control over your supply chain and incurring additional costs.

How to Find a Third Party Logistics Provider

If you’re looking for a third party logistics (3PL) provider, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll want to make sure that the provider has experience in your industry and understands your shipping needs. You’ll also want to ask about their transportation capabilities, warehousing services, and order fulfillment processes.

Once you’ve found a few potential providers, be sure to get quotes from each one. Ask about their rates, transit times, and any additional fees that may apply. When you’re comparing quotes, be sure to compare apples to apples—look at the total cost of shipping, not just the base rate.

Finally, take some time to read online reviews of the providers you’re considering. This can give you insights into their level of customer service and how they handle problems when they arise.


Third party logistics is an essential part of any successful business. It allows companies to outsource their transportation and warehousing needs, freeing up resources that can be better utilized elsewhere. By utilizing 3PL providers, businesses are able to optimize their operations while ensuring they meet customer demands in a timely manner. With the right partner by your side, you can rest assured knowing that each order will arrive on time and intact.