A third party logistics firm (3PL) is a business that provides outsourced services for warehousing, transportation, and logistics management. 3PLs typically handle either parts of a supply chain or all parts of a supply chain depending on contract requirements between suppliers and customers.
Traditionally, 3PL firms have been known for providing their services to businesses looking to expand or to businesses with large numbers of employees. However, the dynamics of this association are changing gradually as more businesses with smaller workforces also look towards outsourcing elements of their business functions to 3PLs. Additionally, there is an increasing trend for business owners to outsource just one element of their company workflow to a trusted outsourced partner, whether that be warehousing or finance.
3PLs such as DHL and Fulfillment International, along with their counterparts are investing in new technology to meet these changing needs of customers. The companies are also consistently expanding their product lines, either by offering value-added services or by tieing up with existing players in their industry. For example, Blue Dart recently launched a loyalty service called Blue Club that offers discounts on business supplies and Fulfillment International is offering a ‘Pack and Store’ service that will help businesses save on time and space.
Companies such as Fulfillment International have also started to offer e-commerce solutions, where customers can place orders online for goods stored in their warehouses.
The future of 3PLs is strong as they are continually adapting to the needs of their clients, as well as the changing dynamics of the market.
The companies are also working towards adapting to the needs of newer delivery models such as Just-in-time, which is an inventory management strategy that aims to reduce in-process inventory by postponing the commitment of inventory to be made available for sale or use until the very last minute.
3PL companies work with packaging suppliers, such as GWC Packaging, to ensure that the products are not only delivered on time, but also in suitable packaging. Additionally, 3PL companies work with suppliers to ensure that the product and its packaging comply with all applicable health and safety requirements and regulations, such as those related to food or import restrictions for agricultural products.
3PL firms, in conjunction with packaging suppliers like GWC, handle warehousing, transportation, and logistics management of the supply chain and ensure that the products and their packaging meet all necessary requirements. As packaging suppliers and 3PL firms, along with other businesses in the industry adapt to the needs of their customers, the future of fulfillment and packaging is strong and they will continue to grow and expand.