Capgemini Consulting, Penn State University, Korn Ferry, and Penske Logistics have announced findings from the 2016, 20th Annual Third-Party Logistics (3PL) Study, which examines the global outsourced marketplace of shippers and 3PL in the logistics industry.
The latest worldwide report shows continued collaborative and positive relationships between shippers and third-party logistics providers, which have been developing since the study began. Relationships are central to the success of 3PL and their customers and, for partnerships between 3PL and shippers to be successful, both parties are expected to invest in the relationships.
To achieve great efficiencies and effectiveness in their relationships, 3PL and shippers must be well aligned.
The report, based on responses from more than 260 shippers and logistics service providers in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America, found that 87 per cent of shippers and 96 per cent of 3PL have agreed-upon performance expectations, and 80 per cent of shippers and 81 per cent of 3PL have formal performance reviews, including the measurement of and feedback on results.
Tightening capacity, mergers and acquisitions and industry innovations are altering competition, 3PL service offerings and shipper-3PL relationships.
The ways in which shippers and 3PL work together is changing as competition within the logistics industry ramps up. Tightened capacity along with increased consolidation within logistics service providers has resulted in fewer partners for 3PL and increased prices. As a result, 44 per cent of survey respondents reported that they have enhanced relationships to guarantee shipping lanes and on-time shipments, and 40 per cent have increased rates. Among shippers, 29 per cent said assets have not been available to move shipments when needed. Similarly, 29 per cent have engaged with a larger number of 3PL to get access to capacity.
“The spirit of collaboration with 3PL and shippers has led to increased efficiencies in the supply chain,” said Bob Daymon, vice president of transportation management for Penske Logistics. “Enhanced relationships with shippers results in operational costs savings and ensures reliable coverage and better rates.”
To differentiate themselves, 3PL are working to provide sustained value, innovative solutions and information to facilitate data-driven decisions. 3PL are also using technology and data to aid shippers in selecting the right shipment modes to maximize efficiency and reduce costs. Among respondents, 60 per cent are using technology to increase visibility within orders, shipments and inventory; 40 per cent are using technology for planning within transportation management, and 48 per cent are using it for scheduling within transportation management.
As the logistics landscape continues to respond to more freight, capacity and regulatory issues, as well as increasingly demanding customers and consumers, the industry is more focused than ever on innovation. To meet increasing customer requirements, 58 per cent of respondents said they are investing in new capabilities for themselves, 40 per cent said they are leveraging new capabilities from other companies in different industries, and 15 per cent said they are leveraging new capabilities from competitors.
“These factors should create an interesting competitive environment, spurring significant changes to the 3PL business model,” said Shanton Wilcox, vice president and North America logistics and fulfilment lead at Capgemini Consulting. “Social, crowd-sourcing and flexible fulfilment will converge to create opportunities for alternative logistics service providers. The challenge will be how traditional, asset-based providers respond to these circumstances.”
Workforce innovation and agility will be particularly important for the 3PL industry as it is expected to face a shortage of talent.
The logistics industry is facing an unprecedented labour shortage, and the majority of 3PL (79 per cent) said they are unprepared for the labour shortage’s impact on their supply chain. However, more than half of shippers (53 per cent) feel they can rely on their 3PL to address the labour shortage’s affect on their business. To meet demand, 3PL will need to leverage their employees in new ways and re-think their strategy for attracting and retaining employees.
“The employee skill sets and traits that logistics companies need are shifting as new technologies and distribution approaches transform the industry,“ said Neil Collins, global leader of logistics, distribution and transportation for Korn Ferry. “Simultaneously, wage issues and job alternatives that didn’t exist a few years ago have increased competition for talent. For many companies, this means a fundamental shift in how they recruit today’s workforce for tomorrow’s needs. A strong work culture and stand-out training will be key, while creating opportunities to work across departments or regions will help employers attract and develop an agile, adaptable workforce.”