July 2010 | Commentary | Checking In

Are You Talkin’ to Me?

Tags: 3PL, Supply Chain Management, Partnership

Felecia Stratton is the editor of Inbound Logistics magazine.

Some results from our annual third-party logistics survey caused the publisher of this magazine to quote a line from Cool Hand Luke: “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” When 3PLs and their customers were asked the same question, but provided diametrically opposed answers, the publisher suggested that more shipper/3PL communication may be called for.

More communication couldn’t hurt. But, from where I sit, our annual third-party logistics issue is more like Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver: “Are you talkin’ to me?”

The articles and special features in this issue illustrate plenty of communication between shippers and their logistics partners. In fact, communication was so fundamental to this issue that we chose a wedding theme to symbolize the close relationship between 3PLs and their customers. In many ways, the 3PL/shipper relationship is like a marriage, and, as all you married folks know, a successful partnership requires a great deal of communication.

Communication drives the successful “married couples” profiled in Perry Trunick’s feature article, Tying the 3PL Knot. You’re invited to see how 3PL/shipper partners court each other, then stay together, for better or for worse.

In addition to the real-world examples of how good communication drives solid logistics partnerships, this issue features a second level of communication: the volume and depth of information that readers and third-party logistics providers shared by participating in our research efforts.

We received mega-communication from shippers who communicated not only their choices for this year’s Top 10 3PL Excellence Awards, but also in-depth responses to questions about the 3PL market. More than 4,660 shippers submitted 9,563 votes for their favorite logistics service providers, devoting an unbelievable 500 man hours to respond to our research. Now that’s communication. Read the results of our exclusive research in 3PL Perspectives.

On the 3PL side, more than 300 logistics providers let us peek behind their curtains, and shared financial information, investment strategies, and growth and expansion plans. 3PLs communicated to us their service capabilities, providing insight and information not available on their Web sites or anyplace else. Their willingness and openness to communicate gives you insight into the capabilities and services available from the 3PL market.

While there may be individual cases of communication breakdown in shipper/customer relationships, the examples in this issue show that people in our industry know what’s needed to get the job done and they are willing to share the information required to make that happen. This publication acts as a pivot point, with both parties providing information that can be used as a point of departure for greater success in collaborating to face today’s tough logistics challenges.

Are you talkin’ to me? I hope so. If you want to communicate your perspective on 3PL relationships, or any other topic, talk to me.