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What You Need to Know About 3PL's

Below is a brief overview of the types of third party logistics providers and tips on what to look for when choosing a provider.

Various Types Of Third Party Logistics Providers

Asset Based

  • Trucking companies that have expanded into warehousing
  • Warehousing focused companies that also own their own private fleet
  • Warehousing companies who have strong relationships with LTL and Full Truckload Carriers
  • Trucking companies focused on intermodal logistics solutions and Ocean Freight
  • Warehousing companies that specialize in partnering with Rail Freight Companies

Non-Asset Based

  • Freight Forwarders contract with carriers to move cargo ranging from raw agricultural products to manufactured goods usually involving import and export
  • Freight Brokers usually are working on spot, volume, and spot quotes to broker Full Truckload
  • A logistics software company who only offers software such as Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) or Transportation Management Systems; can work with companies directory, or work with other 3PLs to offer software which is white labeled
  • A logistics company who offers transportation management software/systems while also providing integrated management services for administrative functions such as accounting, claims, and customer service
  • Things to Consider When Choosing a Provider.
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What To Look For In A Provider


  • Do they provide the necessary range of services?
  • Do they have partners or trusted suppliers for services they don’t supply but you will need?
  • Shift times
  • Overtime when necessary, and cost of overtime
  • Weekend work
  • Ability to add staff – labor pool
  • Ability to handle rush or emergency orders – what is the lead time necessary?


  • Who provides what information to whom – both ways?
  • What is the time frame for the information provided?
  • What is the method of transferring information? (Should always be in written/email form)
  • In what format is the information being passed along?
  • What information does the 3PL require from you?
  • What information will they provide you?
  • Conflict resolution: the chain of command to solve problems


  • How long in business?
  • Warehouse: Asset or non-asset based 3PL?
  • Staff qualifications?
  • Accreditations?
  • Core business/commodity specialty
  • Can they provide customer and other references?
  • Do they have experience shipping the same product as your company ships?
  • What size customers do they handle?
Topics: Transportation third party logistics 3PL