A Gartner survey revealed that 66% of logistics leaders increased their logistics outsourcing budget in 2021, and 74% anticipate an increase in the next two years.
According to David Gonzalez, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain practice, logistics outsourcing to third-party logistics providers (3PLs) has been on the rise for a while, and there is no indication that this will change anytime soon.
“However, logistics leaders are grappling with significant challenges that they can only address in collaboration with their 3PL partners,” he added.
When asked for their top 3 logistics priorities, the most common replies by survey respondents were:
- Improve or update technology (37%)
- Cost reduction/cost optimization (31%)
- Increase customer satisfaction (29%)
Faced with these challenges, many logistics leaders turn to their outsourcing partners for support. Although 3PLs can help address these priorities, it requires collaboration and inevitably compromises on both sides. For example, a 3PL can upgrade or acquire new technologies on behalf of its shipper customer. However, this will only be an option for the 3PL if the shipper extends their contract agreements to allow the depreciation of the investments and/or partly shares the financial burden with the 3PL partners.
“Nearly two-thirds of survey respondents said 3PL service providers had a positive or extremely positive effect on their competitiveness. This is the perfect foundation to build a long-lasting and meaningful partnership that enables joint investments and transparent information exchange,” Gonzalez said.
Essential task for logistics leaders
To have a productive and collaborative work relationship, both shippers and 3PLs must listen to each other and understand the other parties’ perspectives. For example, shippers must ensure that they have a clear understanding of the 3PLs’ capabilities and needs. Similarly, 3PLs must carefully listen to their shippers to manage expectations and identify future areas of opportunity.
“The 3PL community has a lot to offer, and the shipper community has a lot to gain. In the face of ongoing disruptions, growing carrier influence and customer selection, shippers and 3PLs must work together to mutually protect their vested interests. If they can enter a trusted relationship, there’s lots of room for future innovation and opportunities,” Gonzalez concluded.