Third-party logistics (3PL) trends are a relatively recent topic of conversation. For decades, 3PL trends were predictable, generally centered around more and/or better warehousing, transportation and supply chain management.
But, beginning with the shift to digital systems, and more recently related to disruptions due to climate, political and health crises, 3PL trends are increasingly meaningful for shippers, manufactures, distributors and anyone who relies on a supply chain.
If you haven’t done so before, now might be the best time ever to start keeping an eye on logistics trends. You never know how your business might benefit.
Current & Future 3PL Trends to Start Watching
In a way, the trends in 3PL are related to the known and the unknown. That is, finding economies in the face of known disruptions and being better prepared for the unknown upheavals to come.
Supply Chain Resiliency
If your business has recently warned your customers of product delays and shortages, you know all about this one. The fragility of supply chains has rarely been more apparent. So the trends in 3PL services and the value they deliver are no longer just about capacity and scalability. Today it’s about supply chain resilience against wave after wave of unprecedented disruptions.
This long-term trend continues to evolve. It started with the digitization of warehouse and inventory management systems. Today, the trend isn’t so much about digitizing the tools, but about the digitalization of business decisions. Its emphasis is on decision-making informed by data, analytics, technology and digital solutions.
In the past, you may have used a 3PL on an ‘as-needed’ basis. Overcapacity in the warehouse? Find some space. Busy season? Outsource transportation solutions. Considering the impact of disruptions, shippers are increasingly sourcing and partnering with a 3PL in longer-term relationships. It eliminates the need to repeatedly find a good supplier and the speed at which you can deploy solutions.
This one is more of a trend in thinking. The term ‘supply chain’ implies a linear route from raw materials to end-user. However, in that scenario, if anyone link is weak or fails, the whole chain is disrupted. In contrast, a supply network, supported by a partnership with a 3PL, acts like a spider’s web. It maintains its integrity and function even if one or more connections are broken.
Want to stay ahead of all the trends in 3PL? Check out our article “Why It’s Beneficial to Work With a Supply Chain Consultant“.
What challenges are you currently facing that are disrupting your supply chain, ultimately impacting how you service your customers? My team and I are ready to help you optimize your supply chain. Contact me today to discuss how we can support your growth.