A 3PL is typically a freight forwarding company and/ or a courier company. Such companies are very customer-centric and take care of everything for their customers from A to Z on the planet. What is generally invisible for their customers is that they tend to subcontract most of their actual operations such as:
- trucking at origin (to a trucking company)
- warehousing at origin (to a warehouse operator)
- customs clearance at origin (to a customs broker)
- shipping by air or sea (to a shipping line or an airline)
- customs clearance at destination (to a customs broker)
- warehousing at destination (to a warehouse operator)
- trucking at destination (to a trucking company)
An advanced logistics 3PL is a 3PL that has integrated part of their actual operations that are usually subcontracted. Typically is could be 3PL which own warehouses, trucks, or a warehouse management system (WMS) that allows them not only to manage warehouses professionally, but also to integrate part of their customer's supply chain such as supplier's PO management, reminders, track & trace...etc.
Some of those advanced logistics 3PL sometimes even get involved in partial manufacturing for the account of their customers, especially in the garment & textile, as well as electronics industries.
Some courier companies not only own warehouses and trucks/ vans, but also planes. As such they are both 2PL and 3PL.