April 26, 2023 What is a 3PL?

It may be at a party with friends or when talking to the in-laws over the holidays, but inevitably someone will ask, ‘So what exactly IS a 3PL?’. There are a variety of ways that question is answered and often the oversimplistic answer tends to make 3PLs seem like an unnecessary middleman between shippers and receivers. However, Third-Party Logistics (3PL) is a $500 billion market and one of the fastest-growing industries in the past few years. 3PLs help companies reach logistics goals and increase their overall efficiency in the process. In fact, businesses of all sizes benefit from a solid relationship with a 3PL partner.   

What is a 3PL?

Third-Party Logistics is when a shipper (manufacturer, distributor, etc.) engages with another company to manage some or all of its logistics processes. In its most basic form, some 3PLs simply coordinate the shipment of products from point A to point B, but in most cases, 3PLs provide a variety of robust benefits. These functions can include brokering, shipping, storing, or packing a company’s freight, as well as providing supply chain strategy and access to technology. 3PLs are highly scalable and can deliver a bundle of services that extend across multiple aspects of a supply chain.  

Why Partner with a 3PL?

It is estimated that more than 60% of shippers work with a 3PL on some or all of their freight business. Listed below are some of the many advantages of working with a 3PL.

Greater Reach

The truckload market is very fragmented with hundreds of thousands of small and mid-sized trucking companies. 3PLs have established relationships with qualified trucking companies throughout the country. Moreso, asset-based 3PLs like Corporate Traffic Logistics often provide their own assets for specific lanes, providing maximum flexibility for their customers.  

Expertise and Knowledge

When it comes to supply chain logistics, 3PL organizations are experts and can support customers with years of experience and industry connections to quickly streamline processes.

Furthermore, full-service multi-modal 3PLs provide the insight and expertise to recommend the most efficient mode when there are options as well as other services such as Less Than Truckload (LTL), Flatbed, Temp-controlled, Over-dimensional, Drayage, and Intermodal. Multi-modal 3PLs enable companies to streamline procurement with one partner.

Cost Efficiency

Using a 3PL can greatly reduce or even eliminate the need to invest in technology, transportation, and employees to carry out logistics processes, allowing for more focus on your core competencies. 3PLs can also make companies aware of supply chain mistakes and inefficiencies that could be costly or risky.

Operational Flexibility

When a company uses a 3PL, it can scale space, labor, and transportation according to current inventory. Additionally, they are often able to ease the transition between seasonal periods and industry fluctuation. Furthermore, when expanding into new markets, businesses can rely on a 3PL to aid growth in new regions.


3PLs are often on the cutting edge of technology in the logistics sector. Corporate Traffic Logistics, for example, has a dedicated in-house software development group with the experience and industry knowledge to provide technological enhancements and tools such as API/EDI integration to streamline processes seamlessly and further enhance freight visibility. Visibility is crucial for customers and CT is able to provide track and trace status updates throughout the process, so customers always know the status of their freight shipments.

In conclusion, 3PLs can offer expertise, help streamline supply chains, and help save time and money on your logistics spend. Trusting 3PL experts with your shipping logistics can really make a difference in the way your business functions and allow you to focus on increasing your overall value to customers.

If you need a quote on a lane or want to discuss how Corporate Traffic can help improve your supply chain strategy, don’t hesitate to contact us.