While the term 3PL has been bandied about for many years and has served as a staple in the logistics industry, it became something of a grander notion and more depended on solution for a wide variety of companies in the aftermath of the 2020 pandemic. 3PL or ‘Third-Party Logistics’ is a service/term that can encompass a wide array of potentialities and endgames for a business, and not all providers will serve the same overall purpose.
Generally, a 3PL provider can take on roles and responsibilities in a supply chain to facilitate adequate and streamlined solutions for their clients. This can include responsibilities entailing and surrounding warehousing/inventory storage, packaging, shipping/receiving, and transport dispatching for clients and customers.
As you can no doubt guess, a solid 3PL service would be necessary to survive the closure of physical stores around the world as more brick-and-mortars were forced to adopt an e-commerce centric model to survive the changing world.
How 3PL Providers Adapted & Adjusted
As mentioned already, 3PL providers had some big shoes to fill and clients to keep happy. The sudden closure of physical stores coupled with an easier and more approachable platform for new e-Commerce pundits exponentially increased the amount of work and finesse that would be required to keep products moving and companies expanding.
3PL providers all had slightly differing responses of course, however for the most part they adjusted quite amicably. We’ve all seen stories about some of the stumbles along the way with some closures and issues with staffing for transportation being a major spanner in the works in certain periods of time. While these instances are few and far between, the fact that these issues didn’t impede the growth of e-Commerce and online shopping says a lot about the adaptability of 3PL providers as a whole.
The nature of third-party logistics is that of scalability, so the pandemic was more a test of the fundamental principle than it was a cause for complete reinvention. There was renewed focus on upping the ante in terms of throughput efficiency in the various processes and a more dedicated focus on the merits of automation and rapid scalability in the industry.
This was a response to the immense upswing in popularity and immeasurable increase in spending on e-Commerce platforms due to the pandemic and the shift to online focuses.
Their Role In A Post-COVID World
So, where is 3PL headed in a post-COVID world? Excellent question with many working parts. First and foremost, it should go without saying that the genie is not going back into the bottle so to speak. In fact, more people are still spending money online and through e-commerce retailers than ever before which is a sign that third-party logistics providers are only going to become more ingrained and vital to keeping the economy moving along nicely and without issue.
The research into automation, IoT, and more robust communicative channels and capabilities will only make the whole process more efficient.