‘Digitalisation’ is allowing outsourced logistics providers to offer more than the typical third-party logistics (3PL) model by customising services and adopting cloud logistics platforms, according to a newly published report.
The article, published in a special issue of the journal Logistics, is called Third-Party Logistics Providers in the Digital Age: Towards a New Competitive Arena? and written by lead author Erik Hofmann, chair of logistics management at the University of St Gallen, Switzerland.
It addresses 3PL providers but notes how the Digital Age is allowing outsourced logistics providers to offer more than the standard 3PL services – a customised, technology-based approach that is more akin to that made available by fourth-party logistics providers (4PL).
For example, the paper notes “the opportunities of digitalisation” such as “the customisation of standardised logistics services, the provision of cloud logistics services [and] platform-based asst and logistics infrastructure sharing”.
All of these are the types of bespoke outsourced logistics services you might expect to receive from 4PLs, who already make good use of the full potential of modern digital technology to unlock previously unconsidered gains in efficiency and eliminate obstacles to effective logistics operations.
The article suggests that outsourced logistics providers who focus on ‘standard’ services may be left behind or effectively downgraded to the status of “simple forwarders”.
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