These Three Trends Will Define the Future of 3PLs
From accelerating ecommerce demands and sustainability requirements to a growing emphasis on brand value, these are the trends shaping the way third-party logistics providers plan their business strategies and assist retail partners.
The third-party logistics (3PL) industry is continuing to develop quickly, driven by the explosive growth of ecommerce and the increasing efficiencies that 3PLs can offer. This includes reducing both cost and the risk surrounding a disjointed supply chain and delivery strategy for retail, distribution, and manufacturing partners, while also increasing speed and efficiency when it comes to getting products to end consumers.
As the industry continues to grow, it’s key for 3PL providers to understand the trends that will shape and shift the industry, to keep up with its advancement. Between demands for ecommerce, sustainability practices, and the importance of extending brand value, these shifts will shape the way 3PL providers plan their business strategies and assist retail partners.
The Rising Popularity of Ecommerce
The continued growth of ecommerce is driving significant changes in the logistics industry, and 3PL providers must adapt to meet modern consumer demands. According to Insider Intelligence, global ecommerce sales are expected to reach $6.76 trillion by 2024, up from $5.54 trillion in 2022.
To keep up with the growing demand for ecommerce fulfillment, 3PLs must prioritize speed, accuracy, and transparency in their e-fulfillment operations. Consumers want quick, convenient deliveries.
Retailers, distributors, and all parties involved in the last mile process can rely on 3PLs for advanced technology and automation solutions. 3PLs can offer flexible delivery options, such as same-day or next-day deliveries, and provide real-time tracking information to ensure customer satisfaction.
The future of 3PLs will be shaped by providers’ ability to keep up with the evolving demands of ecommerce and provide innovative solutions that enable their partners to thrive in this ever-evolving retail landscape.
The Increasing Use of Sustainability Practices
Sustainability is a growing concern for consumers, and retailers are feeling the pressure to implement long-term sustainable business practices. For example, an 18 wheeler truck’s carbon footprint is a whopping 223 tons of carbon dioxide per year. 3PLs must take responsibility for reducing their carbon footprint, while also providing consumers with the fast and convenient deliveries they expect.
By adopting sustainable practices, such as route optimization, delivery consolidation, and alternative fuel sources, 3PL providers can significantly reduce their carbon footprint and assist their retail and shipping partners in doing the same. They can also help partners achieve sustainability goals by offering visibility into carbon emission metrics associated with shipments and deliveries.
Providing transparency into carbon emissions can also ensure greenwashing— when retailers make unsubstantiated claims to portray a company is environmentally friendly—is avoided. By taking actionable steps towards implementing environmentally conscious business practices, retailers can create a more sustainable future for the planet, and deepen loyalty with consumers that support these initiatives.
The Extending of Brand Value
In today’s competitive retail environment, customer satisfaction is one of the most important ways for retailers, distributors, and manufacturers to differentiate themselves, as over half of U.S. adults would stop using a brand after one bad experience.
3PL providers play a crucial role in ensuring that every point of the distribution process runs smoothly and keeps the customer top of mind. Retailers must recognize the value that 3PL providers can bring to their brand through refined distribution and last mile delivery processes.
Brand value can be extended by ensuring that customer expectations are met at every touchpoint. This includes on-time deliveries, efficient communication, and personalized customer service. By doing so, 3PLs can help retailers build trust and loyalty with their customers, who have come to expect the same high quality with every transaction and delivery.
Adapting to Meet New Demands
As the 3PL industry continues to evolve, one thing is certain: adaptability is key. From the rising popularity of ecommerce to the increasing demand for sustainability and the importance of extending brand value, the industry must remain agile to meet the changing needs of consumers and retailers.
For 3PL providers, a commitment to innovation and embracing new technologies and practices will be essential in providing value to their partners—whether it’s a distributor, retailer, manufacturer, or anyone involved in the overall delivery process.
With new challenges and shifts come more opportunities for the 3PL industry to grow and find additional ways to provide value to all stakeholders involved—from consumers to retailers to the environment.