This year has been somewhat of a roller-coaster for ride for the global markets. The ability to manage turbulence while improving profits is an ability that third-party logistics providers (3PL’s) must continue to do in order to succeed. Organizations around the world are constantly looking for ways to gain a completive edge within their respective sectors. Managing customer relationships through better business processes, people and technology is a strategy that is being adopted throughout the industry. The 2015 version of Capgemini Consulting’s State of the Third Party Logistics industry provides significant insight into ways 3PL’s are able to improve profitability while meeting or exceeding customer service expectations around the globe.

The 2015 study found Customer Relationship Management (CRM) within the 3PL industry is playing a critical role. Leveraging mobile and cloud technologies to improve customer service and integrate with back-end internal systems are strategic decisions that are being made throughout the industry. Mobile technologies enable 3PL’s to provide timely information and better service to customers while providing real time supply chain visibility. In addition, value added services such as shipment tracking and tracing capabilities along with integration into Transportation Management Systems (TMS) and Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) solutions are key benefits of mobile technologies.

In the past, 3PL’s have used relationship based selling to improve market share and profitability. Times have changed due to the complexity of both internal operations and customer requirements. Cloud-based CRM solutions provide significant benefits including the ability for 3PL’s to improve global workflows and processes, reduce supply chain bottlenecks and implement new services while providing allowing customers access to cost and shipment pricing information. Additionally, the combination of CRM, mobile and cloud based technologies provides executives with information to improve relationships with customers. 

There are challenges around the use of CRM, mobile and cloud technologies.  Some executives within the 3PL industry have not embraced the use of the tools. This is due to many factors including the idea that they have achieved success in the past without assistance. A thought is to work with executives to become more acclimated to the latest technologies.
Going forward, 3PL’s will continue focusing on cloud based technologies that improve the overall performance of their business. The 2015 State of Third Party Logistics Study highlighted several key takeaways including:

  • Cloud based services provide a reduction in the total cost of services including maintenance fees and upgrades
  • CRM –mobile-cloud technologies can increase the performance of productivity of sales executives
  • 77 percent of providers surveyed agree that the 3PL sector could significantly benefit from cloud based technologies
  • 3PL executives spend an average of 45 percent of their time engaged in customer facing activities which are not directly related to growing their customer base.
  • Customers of 3PL’s can directly benefit from real time information such as shipment visibility

The ability of a 3PL provider to identify major trends that shape the way information and supply chain visibility will operate in the future is a critical part of this process. At most companies, the use of CRM, mobile and cloud technologies continues to evolve. Competition within the global market is increasing as consumer choices are changing. When addressing these issues, the extended use of technologies to improve profits and service cannot be overlooked.