What is the difference between a 3PL and an advanced logistics 3PL?

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.

Nicolas de Loisy

Advisory specialized in logistics, transportation, and supply chain management.