3PL Vs 4PL: What's the Difference Between Logistics Providers?
23-03-2020 11:11:35
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Supply chain management is an integral part of an eCommerce company; it is essential to get an idea of tools and media used to offer the products to an end consumer. The difference among 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) or 4th Party Logistics (4PL) is a fair amount of uncertainty or debate. When they are distinct indeed, and offer various levels of logistics services, most 3PLs call themselves 4PLs, or vice versa. It appears, of course, to confuse the matter further.

As it comes to procurement, many companies find automation indeed the most cost-effective and the most effective solution. After all, logistics services are specialists in the field and must know how to get efficient and effective results. For your business, you may have selected using an external provider for most or all of your procurement, this next step will be to determine if a 3PL or 4PL was the correct service for you.

What is 3PL?

As per the CSCMP 3PL, outsourcing to all of the logistics operations of the business moves to advanced business. The term "3PL" was used during transport agreements throughout the early 1970s to define intermodal marketing companies (IMCs). Till that point, only two sides, the shipping company, as well as the carrier, had featured transport agreements.

If IMCs came into the picture— when intermediaries are accepting shipping from either the shippers or offering them to the end providers — they became the terms of the contract third party, i.e., 3PL. The definition has expanded to the point in which every firm is providing some or other kind of logistics provider for hiring calls itself a 3PL these days. A provider preferably integrated these services, or "bundled" around each other.

They provide facilities such as transport, manufacturing, cross-docking, supply chain management, packaging, or freight transmitting. Legislation passed of 2008, stating that even a 3PL's legal definition becomes when "an individual who only receives, holds and carries a commercial product in the ordinary course of an investigation but it does not end up taking title to the item."

Third-party logistics services are:

  • Freight forwarders
  • Courier firms
  • Specific companies that integrate and give logistics and transportation facilities under contract


3PLs provide solutions for sectors with complicated supply chain criteria, which turn challenges into advantages.

Visibility or value-added shipping processes were the main priorities for either the healthcare industry. To fulfill the requirements, the machines with a provable chain of evidence must get monitored at each stage of the process. This capability vastly simplifies software solutions that are capable of tracking inventory throughout multiple locations or carriers to ensure which individual devices could be monitored or tracked at a time.

Medical device importers rely on 3PLs of services which go further than dropping the box on a dock. Clients looking for end-user shipment, on-site inventory goes back or repairs, or to other small, however vital steps in representing clients.

Several companies are using FedEx or UPS to deliver packages, and freight companies like J.B. Hunt for larger transports. They are 3PL suppliers who provide transport or delivery companies. Other 3PL services may handle it's warehousing details, external trade logistics, or even the entire allocation process. Because of their specialization and economy of scale, these suppliers can offer efficiencies or superior performance.


  • Finding the perfect 3PL could save your money and time via economy of scale (e.g., shipping rates).
  • It operates well with domestic and international distribution, and you could get quicker delivery by taking advantage of their numerous storage places.
  • It works well with a fast-growing company with large quantities of orders.
  • You can also choose to control customer care or returns.


  • You have less control over the inventory or user experience.
  • Choosing the right supplier, you can rely on time-consuming.
  • 3PL may be a costly price, particularly if you have only small quantities [0p v v for orders.
  • In general, 3PL services will not handle consumable, hazardous, and flammable products 3PLs were suitable for small and medium-sized businesses wishing to take advertising.

What is 4pl?

The organization is always a separate entity to 4PL logistics, established as either a joint venture or lengthy-term agreement around the primary client or one or even more associates. Second, an organization with 4PL introduces as a single interface here between clients and numerous providers of logistics services. Fourth-party supply chain suppliers also manage all aspects of a supply chain for the customer. 4PL is presented initially as a trademark through Accenture of 1996 and described as "supply chain integrators which assemble and manages own organization's funds, capabilities or

technology with that of supplementary service providers to produce a comprehensive supplier solution," and is no longer licensed.


Have you ever thought that surgeons often order the medical device, including a hip replacement, after the anesthesia process has begun for both the patient? Talk about delivering anyway on time. Surgeons can order the product in many sizes since they don't know which will fit according to the need at the start of a protocol. A 4PL can handle the complex string of custody criteria and delivery deadlines to meet the needs of physicians or lower the cost of inventories.

Warehouse somewhere created a network for inventory centers to serve hospitals or surgical centers to one medical-device manufacturer. They keep their stock, relieving ground reps from that burden or eliminating its cost of shipment. Since they ensure delivery of products up to one hour before surgery, doctors can also preschedule surgery. They manage all the reverse planning and unused product restocking.


  • Outsource the whole logistics segment of the business.
  • Use strategic advice aside from operational assistance


  • Little regulation is required over logistics or fulfillment procedures.
  • Likely to be expensive 4PLs carry somewhat a new concept.
  • Still, they will get usually sought by medium-sized enterprises looking for a complete logistics remedy from an operational as well as strategic insight.

The Difference From 3pl To 4pl

The distinction between 3PLs, 4PLs as well as other PL's is discussed among supply chain industry professionals. The easiest way of thinking is that each successive sort of logistics supplier offers more engagement than the last one in the supply chain.

It relies on your business model, facilities, budget, or how much control you need over the supply chain.

Many eCommerce companies choose 3PLs since they offer the right mix of support, adaptability, and price-effectiveness. Moreover, TradeGecko integrates specifically with 3PL suppliers (like Amazon FBA), via the integration to Cart Rover's shipping applications and 3PL Central, or to follow 3PL exporter, that enables you to simplify your place fulfillment process in both systems.


Thus it depends on whether your company has been dealing with an increasingly complex supply chain or struggling to respond faster to customer expectations; a creative 3PL or 4PL might be the best option for you. In partnership with an innovative leader, you may optimize your supplier solutions with such a competitive advantage to maximize customer value. Most effective logistics partnerships blend its product flow as well as the information flow seamlessly, and this is where our tech enables supply chain achievement.

If directed to a consumer and offering company-to-business partners provider-level agreements, you understand what your customers allow is overnight shipment (or near to it). That's why Warehouse Anywhere at a level distinct from other 3PL firms.



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