3PLs are more difficult to clearly define than ever before. There is no one size fits all definition as every third-party logistics operation offers a varying product/service portfolio. While 3PLs were once limited to simply transportation and warehousing services, many portfolios now include global services, IT and value added services. Supply chain programs nationwide have done research regarding the state of the 3PL industry. A recent report from the University of Tennessee published an article detailing some of the top functions outsourced to third party logistics providers which included a list of over 30 business critical functions. The top three most outsourced are domestic and international transportation, customs brokerage and freight forwarding.

Outsourcing to 3PLs is a growing trend as it allows manufacturers and retailers to focus on core competencies. This is where finding a best-fit third party logistics partner is critical. Selecting a 3PL that can effectively perform required business critical functions can result in significant benefits for their partners. According to the UT report “Selecting and Managing a Third Party Logistics Provider Best Practices” the top six benefits most often realized when outsourcing to a best-fit 3PL include cost reductions (both current and future), improved customer satisfaction, global expertise, risk reductions and reduced startup capital investment.

The third party logistics industry is a complex one to navigate. This makes identifying a best-fit 3PL for your operation a complex task. Developing and executing a detailed RFP can be helpful in identifying top functions to consider and eliminate prospects that cannot meet your needs. Top industry experts recommend including technology capabilities, company culture, infrastructure, ease of relationship, KPI metrics and other intangible items in your custom RFP. This RFP process will help your operation to identify which 3PL fits the size and capability requirements of your operation, as one size does not fit all. Learn more about selecting a best-fit 3PL by contacting Datex experts at www.datexcorp.com , marketing@datexcorp.com or calling 800.933.2839 ext 243.

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