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Jul 22, 2021

What is a 3PL & Why You Should Partner With One?


A 3PL is a knowledgeable and experienced partner that provides simplified solutions to help manage the diverse needs of shippers while helping carriers scale business operations. Partnering with a third-party logistics provider (3PL) allows shippers and carriers to do more and worry less. Flexibility, efficiency and visibility are just a few areas of expertise that make 3PLs so useful in the freight industry. Here, we’ll dive into some frequently asked questions to help you understand what a 3PL partnership means and how it can streamline your supply chain.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a 3PL, and why should you partner with one?

A 3PL is a third-party logistics company that is able to provide transportation equipment and resources to fit a shipper’s needs while connecting the right carrier partner to move their freight. In an industry with many moving parts and the evergreen threat of disruptions, 3PLs offer an unmatched ability to meet the challenges both shippers and carriers face within supply chain operations. It’s no wonder the 3PL world has erupted in recent years as partners continue to look more and more into outsourcing. As of 2022, the market size of the 3PL industry is over $245 billion, with steady growth expected to continue in the coming years. One of the main reasons this market has steadily increased each year is the growing need to collaborate with a shipping expert as consumer demand continues to hold high levels. Many companies can only support in-house operations to a certain level before outsourcing logistics activities becomes the more cost-effective and time-saving option.

How do 3PLs benefit shippers?

For shippers, finding the appropriate carrier that meets the requirements for their freight alone can be half the battle. From expedited shipping to refrigeration, not all carriers have the ability to accomplish the same delivery needs. That’s where 3PLs come in. To relieve the pressure of sourcing carriers, 3PLs can do the heavy lifting by utilizing their thoroughly vetted carrier network to find the right equipment needed for each load. In addition to matching carriers to freight, 3PL investment in technology gives shippers a level of knowledge and expertise that they may not have access to otherwise. For example, NTG’s API and EDI integrations maximize efficiencies and eliminate operational and accounting errors, saving shippers time and money. With a 3PL partnership, shippers also have access to constant freight reporting and market analysis to help companies develop supply chain strategies.

How do 3PLs benefit carriers?

When it comes to planning loads and ensuring the most efficient routes possible, carriers greatly benefit from working with a 3PL that can take the guesswork out of the process. With advancements in technology and data analysis, a 3PL partner can provide easy and quick access to available loads that match carrier’s preferences. In addition to load matching, 3PLs stay in constant communication with carriers about potential disruptions to avoid, upcoming freight access that match where a carrier is headed for enhanced route optimization, and ensuring any necessary assets are at carrier’s fingertips from pick-up to delivery. If any issues occur on the road and a carrier needs assistance, they can rely on the 3PL’s dedicated team members to provide solutions that will minimize disruptors and resolve issues quickly.

How to vet a 3PL?

It’s always important to do your fair share of research before partnering with any third-party company, as that partnership can directly affect the success and reputation of your own company. As you dive into the websites and platforms of each candidate, explore their service capabilities and any additional freight solutions that benefit you and your consumers. In addition, check for testimonials from past and current customers to give you an idea of the 3PL’s strengths and reach. Lastly, ensure that each 3PL you consider offers the resources you need to be successful. If technology and digital tools are important to you, look to see that they can provide you with enhanced visibility solutions, real-time updates and 24/7 customer service with dedicated representatives that understand your freight needs.

How can I partner with a 3PL?

Partnering with a 3PL is an important step in any supply chain strategy. Taking the time to find the right 3PL that fits your specific shipping needs is critical. After exploring different 3PLs that best suit you, request a quote and speak to an account manager to determine long-term shipping goals. Aligning with a 3PL partner on your unique shipping needs and expectations is vital to any company’s success.

As demand grows, so do the needs of shippers and carriers to manage daily logistics operations. Leave the headaches to a trusted 3PL to cover every aspect of your complex supply chain from start to finish.

Get your next freight quote from NTG today – let us show you we can be your 3PL of choice.

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