2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry

Date: April 16, 2018

3PL Central Publishes Its 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry Report

As the third-party logistics industry is always evolving, 3PLs worldwide have witnessed a dramatic series of changes over the past few years. Driven by enhancements in technology, the staggering rise of eCommerce and the smartphone revolution, our entire industry now looks radically different than it did just a short time ago.

While 3PLs once dealt largely with B2B clients, they now earn the majority of their profits from omni-channel B2C customers. As a result, the mandate to provide a superior customer experience at every consumer touchpoint has become our industry’s most important issue.

In this year’s 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry report, we’re looking toward the future of warehousing and how 3PLs can grow by focusing on their clients' emerging needs and fulfilling the promise of superior customer service.

Opportunity 1: Handling the Pressure of Growing Customer Support

Win new clients by providing a better customer experience than your competition.

Today’s consumer is totally in charge. With so many options, retailers, and better deals just one click away, consumers can now demand a superior customer experience at every touchpoint of the purchase process. And if they’re not satisfied, they’ll happily seek what they want from another vendor.

While this new reality is going to be a challenge to many retailers, fulfillment providers, and delivery partners, it could also represent a huge opportunity for a 3PL. While achieving such a superior standard of customer service will not be easy, warehouses who can build a reputation for providing such service will find themselves with their pick of partners and retailers.

Opportunity 2: Supporting Omnichannel Fulfillment to Meet Retailer Demands

Capitalize on every retailer’s need to offer customers a variety of choices.

In addition to a superior customer experience, today’s consumers have also made it clear that they want choices. Choice in terms of product selection, colors and models, prices and discounts – even a choice as to whether they want to pick up their purchase in a store or have it delivered that same day.

This newfound power has left retailers with no option but to offer true omni-channel fulfillment.  But again, what will undoubtedly be a huge challenge for these retailers will also present a huge opportunity for fully prepared 3PLs.  Those who are ready to help retailers facilitate all manners of shopping and delivery will find themselves well-positioned for profitability.


Our new 2018 State of the Industry report will arm you with the information that you need to stay informed about industry trends and emerging opportunities. This report provides the insights you need to make critical decisions and improve your 3PL operation.


Opportunity 3: Embracing the Big Data Era

Use Your Warehouse’s Own Data to Increase Profitability

3PLs and warehouses produce staggering amounts of raw data in the course of their daily operations. What many do not realize is that they are now sitting on a potential goldmine. Because the Big Data Era is upon us.

No doubt this era will also bring significant challenges along with its opportunities. While 3PLs do produce mountains of data, it is not always clear exactly what information is useful – and what is not. But it is a challenge 3PLs must embrace, as their partners all along the supply chain are beginning to expect them to understand and share their information freely.

Knowing how data can be leveraged to increase productivity, identify new opportunities and boost your profitability is key in today’s landscape.

Opportunity 4: Discovering New Technologies to Meet Growing Demands

Leverage New Warehousing Technology to Improve Your Productivity and Customer Experience

Few sectors of the economy have been more impacted by technology than the supply chain logistics and warehousing industries. But as you will learn in our 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry Report, even bigger, more consequential and more disruptive changes are already starting to arrive.

Technologies designed to improve picking, packing, and delivery are taking many forms. They include everything from driverless vehicles to drone deliveries to Google Glass-enabled warehouse associates. Implementing these innovations, however, will be expensive - and will likely be adopted first by such industry leaders like Amazon and UPS. That said, there are other new innovations that could be considered by smaller 3PL operations.

Requiring less investment than with full-scale automation systems, smaller solutions like push back racking and Smart Material handling Equipment can be implemented quickly and cost effectively. Added together, they can help a warehouse achieve vast improvements in their ability to give their customers the high levels of service and experience they demand.

Opportunity 5: Competing with “On-Demand”, “Pop-up” and Other Non-traditional Fulfillment Options

Partner with New Entrants to the Fulfillment and Last-Mile Delivery Marketplace

Given the size and profitability of the logistics and fulfillment industries, it comes as no surprise that it is the target of dozens of innovative new startups every year.  Knowing who these new entrants are and what they are trying to bring to our marketplace is important for 3PLs to understand in order to keep up with the competition.

Realizing the possibilities of working with these intriguing new partners – particularly in the realm of local last-mile delivery - can take your warehouse to the next level. For example, a number of these new “on-demand” services can deliver to consumer-designated locations on the same day of purchase.  Such capabilities could help your 3PL (and your retailer customers) differentiate yourselves in today’s extremely crowded consumer marketplace. Think of it as one more way to provide a superior customer experience.

Today’s smartest and most successful warehouses are already looking to the future of logistics with a focus on the customer experience.  For a complete list of the five opportunities 3PLs can use for the coming year to achieve a superior customer experience, be sure to download the complete 2018 State of the Third-Party Logistics Industry Report. Designed to offer informative and insightful information to move your business ahead, it also includes bonus features on how to capitalize in today’s industry.


Check out our 2018 State of the Industry report to stay a step ahead of the competition and be a leader in the logistics industry.

3PL Central

Written by 3PL Central

The first cloud-based WMS solutions designed for 3PLs. Powerful, flexible, scalable, and specifically designed to help 3PLs and warehouses grow to the next level.