3PL Trends in 2018

2018 is already turning out to be the year of 3PL. Researching the logistics trends in 2018, I came across an article that stated that Third Party Logistics Providers (3PL’s) are set to dramatically shape the supply chain frontier in 2018 and in the future (Robinson, 2018). A recent survey tells us that 87% of shippers are using 3PL’s and plan to utilize 3PL services to drive down costs and increase market share and competitive advantage (Robinson, 2018).

Communication and collaboration are one trend that seems to be occurring in manufacturing and logistics all over the world and will take center stage in 3PL trends in 2018 (Robinson, 2018).  Communication and collaboration between 3PL’s and the shippers increases visibility into freight, services available, services rendered, billed, value added services such as audits and demand forecasting, as well as the increasing complexities of dimensional freight and pricing models (Robinson, 2018).

Being that several shippers have already begun to utilize the services of a 3PL, 2018 will be a year in which shippers will begin to use 3PL’s by upping investment in the services and technology power of 3PL’s.

Another trend in 3PL’s for 2018 is looking for ways to reduce last mile costs. Amazon and Wal-Mart have already launched last mile delivery services (Robinson, 2018). 3PL’s need to make their last mile services stand out from the crowd. The way to reduce costs is to use the ever-capable TMS which either includes or will include such features as advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation (Robinson, 2018). According to my research, TMS will soon work with advanced modes of transportation such as drones and autonomous delivery trucks (Robinson, 2018).

A third trend for 3PL’s is leaving behind their former reputation. 3PL’s are increasing their value and transparency and are now essential partners for shippers who have the need to manage a complex world of global trade and commerce. Shippers want more guidance to navigate challenges like the capacity crunch, how to better analyze data and create actionable insights, and a stronger awareness on how you can utilize technology and services to reduce total landed costs (Robinson, 2018). Shippers need to evaluate their current 3PL or in the process of hiring a 3PL to make sure the company offers valued-added services that go beyond technological capability (Robinson, 2018).

Automation will become more important in 2018. Automated technologies such as automated identification and data collection, Bluetooth enabled technologies, radiofrequency identification, robotics, drones, and autonomous vehicles have the potential to reduce the manual, labor intensive tasks, which are responsible for the uptick in freight shipping rates (Robinson, 2018).

These top trends that affect the 3PL industry in 2018 have amazing potential; however, they also serve as a warning in the coming year. Supply chain executives who choose not to see the value in working with an outside entity will be ill equipped to respond to market fluctuations, including potential decreasing quality of customer service levels (Robinson, 2018).

Robinson, A. (2018). 3PL trends: 10 areas shippers consider as they increase their use of third party logistics. Cerasis. (March 5, 2018). Retrieved from http://cerasis.com/2018/03/05/3pl-trends/.

Ashley W.
Ashley W.