How many 3PLs do you use?

This post is written by our Marketing Analyst Intern, James Kane.  James is a senior at the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business and Economics.

A recent article by Patrick Burson in Logistics Management discussed the use of 3PL providers.  The article noted that 86 percent of domestic Fortune 500 companies use 3PLs for logistics and supply chain functions, and that the average customer utilizes multiple 3PLs.  For example, companies such as General Motors, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart each use at least 50 3PLs.

I decided to take a closer look at the use of multiple 3PLs.  What I discovered is that companies utilize multiple 3PLs to minimize risk, and to maximize efficiency and revenue; the decision to engage each 3PL is strategic.

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What do 3PLs think about the use of multiple 3PLs?  It turns out the majority are ok with it.  A growing number of 3PLs see value in companies working with more than one 3PL.  A Market Insight Survey found that 51.2 percent of 3PLs polled believe customers should have more than one service provider.  Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported that they feel customers should work with just one 3PL and 9.8 percent reported that outsourcing strategies should depend upon the customer and the scope of the venture.

I’m interested.  With how many 3PLs does your company engage?