In a previous post I wrote about the things you need to consider before terminating your 3PL. One of the key points was to ensure that the process of sourcing and selecting an alternative 3PL service provider had been considered well before any termination notice was issued. This post will focus on how to find a 3PL service provider.
The following is a list of are good sources of information when trying to find a 3PL service provider.
- Search the internet
- Trade publications
- Refer to industry associations
- Ask your existing network
- Hire a consultant
- 3PL directories
Search the Internet
This is an obvious answer I know but googling 3PL companies or 3rd party logistics companies returned 2.1 million and 4.1 million results respectively. Searching on these terms will start the ball rolling but to reduce the number of returns I suggest that you add your preferred location to the search terms in order to get more specific hits. Searching the internet will provide both an "organic" list of 3PL service providers but will also return a more specific list of 3PL service providers that have "paid" to be at the top of the list.
Refer to Industry Associations
The main purpose of industry associations is to promote the particular industry and to represent the interests of their members. Members of these industry bodies can be either individuals or companies. The websites of these organisations quite often have a list or a searchable directory of member companies that can be used as starting point to identify a potential partner. In the absence of a list or a directory a simple email or phone call to the industry body describing your requirements will provide a good starting point for identifying suitable 3PL service providers.
To review a short list of industry bodies in the Australia and USA - CLICK HERE
Whilst the default place to look for anything these days is the on the internet, hard copy trade publications still do exist and can be a valuable source of information for finding a 3PL service provider. In Australia, publications like MHD - Supply Chain Solutions and in the USA, publications such as Inbound Logistics and Logistics Management magazines not only include advertisements placed by third party logistics service providers but also have articles written by industry experts that are either from the 3PL companies or reference 3PL companies in their article. Many of the hard copy trade magazines are also published in digital format.
Ask you existing network
As a logistics or supply chain professional it is important that you develop a strong network of contacts within your industry. Your existing network can be an invaluable source of information in general but in particular when you are trying to find a 3PL service provider. It is almost guaranteed that at least one person within your network will have already been through the process of sourcing and selecting a 3PL service provider. They will be able to share their experience and provide some feedback on the 3PLs they evaluated as part of a previous 3PL selection process or even recommend companies they are currently using or have used in the past. It is also likely that your existing international freight forwarder, customs broker or transportation services providers are able to provide third party logistics services.
LinkedIn is also another great source for obtaining information in regards to how to find a 3PL service provider. There are many 3PL specific groups on LinkedIn where you can simply post a request for recommended 3PL companies. Be prepared for some biased feedback and some unsolicited sales pitches from members of the group that represent 3PL companies but the result will be an initial list of third party logistics companies that you can research and review independently.
Hire a consultant
The process of sourcing and selecting a 3PL service provider can be a time consuming task. A lot of organisations do not have the resources or the expertise to undertake this process themselves. Fortunately there are consultants that can be hired to help you find a suitable 3PL service provider. A consultant can help to provide independent advice on the 3PL market and what is required to source and select a suitable 3PL service provider. Alternately they can be engaged to mange the entire sourcing and selection process on a project basis.
To request more information in regards to my consulting services - CLICK HERE
In addition to the lists and searchable directories of 3PL service providers that can be found on the websites of various industry associations there are also a number of websites that are dedicated to maintaining a directory of 3PL service providers. The format of these websites vary from simple listings to sites that provide detailed information and reviews of the 3PL service providers offering and performance. Most sites allow service providers to add basic details for free and more detailed information can be added as part of a paid listing. Either a free or a paid listing will provide sufficient information to kick off your search for a suitable 3PL service provider.
In the USA the number one source and the authority on all things 3PL service providers is Armstrong and Associates. Armstrong and Associates are a third party logistics consulting and market research company with unparalleled knowledge of the global 3PL market which is supported by their www.3pladvisor.com 3PL service provider directory site.
For information that is more specific to the Australian 3PL service provider market - CLICK HERE
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