With the fast rise the globalization, an innovation and e-commerce, supply chains have come to be incredibly complex. Though running an reliable supply chain operation is more an overwhelming than ever, that has also never been more important.

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To compete in the contemporary world, shippers need to efficiently control their inventory and also fulfillment. To do this, many will look external their four walls because that a tiny help.

It is no realistic (nor a great idea) for many businesses to run 100% of their supply chain to work in-house.

Hiring logistics talent, procuring capacity, investing in physical assets and building modern technology are every labor-intensive and also expensive. Instead, shippers outsource various parts (or sometimes also all) of their supply chain functions to third-party logistics carriers (3PLs).

But exactly how do you know what to outsource and also what to store in-house? How countless 3PLs should you be using and where?

To offer you a much better understanding of just how to strategically outsource areas of her supply chain, I’ll sheathe the basics.

Below is everything you need to acquire started with outsourced logistics.

What is Outsourced Logistics?

Let’s begin with a basic definition.

Outsourcing logistics is as soon as a firm uses an exterior provider (aka a third-party) to take care of various supply chain functions.

These can include a mix that shipping, storing, packing and/or transporting a company’s physical goods, native raw products all the means to the perfect product.

The terms “outsourced logistics” and also “third-party logistics” are approximately interchangeable — they refer to the same thing.

Outsourcing logistics is once a company uses an external provider (aka a third-party) to manage various supply chain functions.

Size of the Outsourced Logistics (3PL) Market

As supply chains grow an ext and much more complex, business rely an ext and much more on 3PL providers.

Since 1996, the U.S. 3PL market has grown in ~ a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) the 8.8%.

Globally, outsourcing come 3PLs accounts for 10.2% of full logistics costs. In the united States, that number is even greater at 12.4% of all logistics costs.

To placed that in perspective, in 2019 alone, U.S. Shippers invested $212.8 exchange rate on outsourcing to 3PLs.


4 types of 3PLs the Shippers usage for Outsourced Logistics

At Armstrong & Associates, us bucket 3PLs into four main segments the cover most functions of a shipper’s supply chain.


Here is a quick overview the the simple business design for each kind of 3PL:

Dedicated Contract Carriage(DCC):Supply shippers v tractors, drivers, and fleet managementTrailers are generally includedContract terms can range from 1-7 yearsDomestic Transportation management (DTM):Provide non-asset based, value-added transportation management servicesDeal largely with shipments originating in and also destined to phibìc American pointsServices room usually performed in conjunction v freight brokerageServices are frequently contractualInternational Transportation administration (ITM):Provide non-asset based, value-added international transportation administration servicesServices room usually carry out in conjunction through freight forwardingServices are regularly contractualValue-Added Warehousing and Distribution (VAWD):Provide long-term contract warehousing or distribution center operationsOften encompass a hold of other value-added services

What Logistics services Are Shippers Outsourcing the Most?

Let’s malfunction the 3PL industry by shipper spend per sector segment.

Domestic transportation monitoring gets the greatest share, followed by international transportation management and also value-added warehousing.


If we small our emphasis to account for most well-known service, according to our latest evaluation — covering more than 7,700 3PL customer relationship in 44 countries and totaling practically 21,000 solutions — we view that 3PLs are primarily giving transportation management, warehousing and also value-added services.

Transportation management Services

Transportation management, whether residential or international, entails the usage of sophisticated technology to manage thousands that shipments across multiple carriers and also transportation modes.

These services have the right to be as straightforward as arranging dried van truckload transportation for a single shipment, or as complicated as optimizing hundreds of shipments across an worldwide supply chain network.

Some shippers will totally outsource their transport management, relying ~ above a 3PL’s team to execute your day-to-day shipping operations.

Warehousing Services

Nearly 20% of shippers count on 3PLs to source warehouse capacity, expand their networks, and help them acquire closer to the end customer.

Warehousing 3PLs tend to be exceptionally good at controlling labor across customers, plus, castle are frequently a an ext cost-effective option.

As e-commerce reasons fulfillment, labor, and also other warehousing prices to rise, 3PLs cut prices for separation, personal, instance shippers by providing multi-client warehousing.

Value-Added Warehousing Services

Value-added solutions are additionally on the rise because of e-commerce. This can incorporate a broad array that services, including specialty packaging, inserts, kitting, returns, warranty management and also other customized services.

What market Verticals usage 3PL solutions the Most?

Across the luck 1,000, companies spent $40 exchange rate outsourcing logistics to 3PLs.

In 2019, the Retail industry (i.e. Basic merchandisers, specialty retailers, e-tailers) accounted for the largest portion of 3PL revenues.

Consumer goods (i.e. Household items, an individual products, furniture, toys, sporting goods) spent the least, in ~ $7.5 billion.

That said, the consumer Goods segment — propelled by COVID-19 — is cultivation its use of 3PLs. We mean a larger section of 3PL earnings in this segment for 2020 and also beyond.

Our latest research present Retail as the biggest buyer that 3PL services, while consumer Goods invested the least.

Outsourcing by company Size

Generally speaking, the larger the company, the more likely that is to count on outsourced logistics, due to the fact that larger companies have more complicated supply chains, do the stayinfiji.com and also expertise of a 3PL an ext important.

In 2019, 92% of fortune 500 companies operated with at least one 3PL, i m sorry is a far-ranging increase from our initial tracking in 2001, once only 46% that the companies had 3PL relationships.

But working through 3PLs isn’t simply for huge shippers.

Based on one independent research study study, working with a 3PL is a usual trend across businesses of every sizes.

On average, smaller shippers quiet outsource 27% the their full supply chain tasks to a 3rd party.


The pros & cons of Outsourcing her Logistics

While nearly every shipper should incorporate 3PLs in your supply chain strategy, outsourcing is not a silver bullet.

There room pros and cons to take into consideration when thinking around what and also where to outsource.

Key benefits to outsourcing logistics:

The capacity to focus on core service competencies quite than supply chain operationsPotential come lower all at once transport and also logistics costsIncreased flexibility and also efficiency (due to an ext streamlined operations)Improved company levels (leading to increased customer satisfaction)Less risk, early out to reduced asset ownership and administrative responsibility

Potential disadvantages to outsourcing logistics:

Loss of control if not controlled properlyLack the communication/openness by one or both parties can lead come suboptimal operationsPoor 3PL choice can an outcome in it is provided chain disruptions, high costs, and lowered company levels

When have to You Outsource?

Shippers are constantly examining the “build vs. Buy” dilemma: when must I invest in external dedicated support and also when I need to I develop stayinfiji.com for far better in-house services?

Deciding when to save your work in-house and also when to lug in a 3PL have the right to be difficult. There is no one right answer — the ideal mix will rely on your supply chain.

Here room some tell-tale signs that outsourcing one or more of her supply chain functions may be a good choice:

Your company’s as whole structure or strategy is changingYour logistics prices are climbing while your service levels room fallingYou space experiencing fast growth and also need to scale quicklyYou space entering a brand-new market, one of two people business kind or geographyYou battle in recruiting and retaining peak logistics talentAn area of her supply chain needs more flexibilityExecuting it is provided chain attributes is maintaining you from core organization initiatives

How to choose Your Outsourced Logistics Providers

Before contacting 3PLs, it’s important to specify your expectations and outline what you desire to achieve. Questioning the right inquiries is an important precursor to a effective working relationship.

Look for 3PLs that best align through your company’s goals. Assess every 3PL’s company offerings and solutions as well as its it capabilities and level that digitization/automation.

Make certain to completely evaluate every 3PL’s overall strengths and weaknesses prior to choosing to job-related with them.

It’s common for shippers to usage a range of 3PLs, together providers have varied specialization in particular market segments, geographies, and also industry verticals.

Factors to think about when picking a 3PL:

Industries castle serveSpecializations and certifications heldCurrent and also past client reviewsFocus top top quality and also performance

Run one RFP to pick Your 3PL Providers

Running an RFP is one effective method of assessing potential 3PLs, assessing your capabilities and determining the best fit for your service needs.

The most important component of her RFP is to make sure it includes vital information.

Supply Chain Data to include in your RFP:

Order/shipment data from a freight invoice payment agency (this can aid facilitate a an excellent bid an answer from transportation 3PLs)Warehousing details — such together receiving, storage, picking, shipping volumes and item typesGood descriptions, weights, and dimensions of products handled

To make sure you’re acquiring competitive rates and also service, get brand-new bids for your outsourced solutions on a constant basis.

In the transport sector, shippers have to re-bid their outsourced remedies every one to two years. A the majority of contract warehousing agreements space renewed in 3-year agreements.

Related: 7 procedures to a far better RFP

Get began with Outsourced Logistics Solutions

Running a modern supply chain is complex and difficult, but shippers do not must go in ~ it alone.

Shippers large and little rely on 3PLs to help them delivery smarter, and also this tendency is only proceeding to grow.

Working v strategic 3PL providers and also outsourcing components of her supply chain operations will aid you conveniently gain expertise and an innovation while freeing up your human being to focus on her core business objectives.

Keep learning around the logistics market

Now that you have a foundational knowledge of outsourced logistics, get the existing state the the market and trends in 3PL and shipper relationship (also indigenous Evan Armstrong).

About the Author

Evan Armstrong has actually over 25 year of suffer in it is provided chain management. As President of Armstrong & Associates, Inc., he oversees countless market research study initiatives and provides consulting services to it is provided chain entrants in the complying with areas: organization planning, logistics outsourcing, mergers and also acquisitions, market evaluation and benchmarking, logistics operations and also pricing benchmarking, transport management, professional witness, and supply chain equipment evaluation and also selection.

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Evan has developed and also implemented transportation and logistics systems and has spearheaded startup logistics operations for Fortune 500 customers. He has an MBA with an emphasis in Marketing and a BBA – Finance indigenous the college of Wisconsin-Whitewater.