The simplest definition of a 3PL is a company that works with shippers to manage their logistics operations. Logistics can include elements of warehousing, transportation management software, freight rate negotiation, in-depth reporting, forecasting, freight bill auditing and much more. There are literally thousands of 3PLs in the market that have different models and perform different tasks. Some 3PLs will specialize in certain industries, frozen food for example. Others might specialize in one specific area of logistics such as auditing freight bills, warehousing or providing logistics related software.
We consider ourselves a full-service, co-managed 3PL. A standard full-service 3PL will provide services across multiple industries. Those services will include auditing freight bills, reducing freight rates, reporting and technology in the form of a Transportation Management System (TMS). A co-managed 3PL will bring you these same services but leave the decision making up to you. A standard 3PL will bring best practices but make their own decisions of how to manage your logistics function.
This “Quick Guide to 3PL Models” gives a brief, general description of the different 3PL models in the market today.