In today’s world, outsourcing fulfillment, management, storing, shipping and other logistics services to a third-party logistics (3PL) provider has become standard practice for a majority of U.S. companies. In fact, a 2017 study found that 90% of all Fortune 500 companies turned to a 3PL to help with their freight shipping management — up from less than 50% in 2003.
But why are more and more companies — from small retailers and start-ups to multi-billion dollar companies — turning to 3PLs? Read on to learn why companies like yours choose to work with a 3PL — and if a 3PL partner is the right choice for your business.
What is a 3PL?
A 3PL helps companies solve (and even avoid) shipping challenges in an ever-changing landscape. Simply put, a 3PL can help businesses of all sizes reduce costs and improve the efficiency of their supply chains.
Some 3PLs offer specialized services like procurement and warehousing, while others connect you with affordable, high-quality carriers for your transportation needs. Since all 3PLs are different, it’s important to choose a partner that offers the specific services and level of support you need. As a Unishippers customer, you can receive access to a network of 65+ top freight carriers, our proprietary shipping technology and an industry expert who knows your business and is your main point of contact when you need support.
The history of 3PLs
3PLs have been around for decades, but they really took hold in the 1980s when the Motor Carrier Act deregulated the trucking industry, causing freight shipping rates to fall and the number of competitors to increase. As technology evolved and more companies began to rely on the internet to conduct business, 3PL growth skyrocketed.
Over time, many companies found that they just couldn’t keep pace with rapidly changing technology, expanding provider networks and the level of in-house expertise needed for effective and cost-efficient shipping and logistics management. As these challenges became more complex, businesses of all sizes discovered the benefits of outsourcing some (if not all) of their supply chain management to a 3PL provider.
The benefits of a 3PL
Businesses choose to work with a 3PL for a large number of reasons — to increase efficiency, reduce or control costs, expand their network of reliable carriers, manage seasonal or cyclical fluctuations, improve their customer experience and more. By outsourcing transportation and shipping logistics (or other supply chain functions) to a 3PL, businesses can free up valuable time to focus on managing and growing their business.
In today’s fast-paced and uncertain world, the latest 3PL developments are game-changers that can help companies gain and maintain a competitive edge through:
- Better software solutions, including advanced transportation management system (TMS) platforms that help shippers reduce errors, improve efficiencies and demonstrate ROI.
- Enhanced productivity with a host of time-saving solutions, including multiple carrier and service options from one company, consolidated invoicing and consultation from experts in the shipping industry.
- Improved information sharing and transparency to help companies understand shipping trends and plan for fluctuating demand.
Not only do 3PLs offer complex and cutting-edge services, they also excel at giving small and mid-volume shippers access to the solutions they need. Contact us today to learn how partnering with Unishippers as your 3PL provider can give you the support, access and flexibility you need to improve your freight shipping logistics.
Looking for more information on why small and mid-sized businesses love 3PLs? Download our helpful guide to learn more.
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