What is a 3PL?

3PLs allow shippers to access a single point of contact to select and qualify hundreds of carriers, manage cargo claims, leverage significant investment in software technology and provide mode, lane and carrier selection expertise. 3PLs provide carriers with access to shippers of all sizes and in geographic areas. 3PLs help carriers with cash flow by expediting payments.

Over the past decade, many shippers of cargo have streamlined their acquisition and distribution operations.  They have reduced their in-house transportation departments, and have chosen to deal with only a few “core carriers” directly.  Increasingly, they have contracted out the function of arranging transportation to intermediaries or third party experts.  Every Fortune 100 company now has at least one 3PL as one of its core carriers.  Since the intermediary or 3PL, in turn, may have relationships with hundreds, or even thousands, of underlying carriers, the shipper has many service options available to it from a single source.  A 3PL may use more than a hundred carriers to serve a single shipper.  In 2007, 3PLs directed the purchase of $162 billion in transportation services.