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Finding A 3PL Logistics Provider

Written by Ken Kinlock
Published on Friday, 20 April 2012

retailuniverseI recently wrote about an interview I had with SPS Commerce concerning their Retail Universe℠ online community for trading partners. Subsequently I had a “real world” request from a client to find a 3PL to handle trucking and warehousing in southern Indiana. WOW! A real test for the power of RU!

Starting in Retail Universe’s “3rd Party Logistics” section, I find 47 companies. Pretty good for a “newborn”. My first criteria was LOCATION. I wanted to find somebody to support the whole State of Indiana and also Louisville and Chicago. But I wasn’t able to input multiple locations. Sounds like I might need to run my criteria multiple times. Indiana turned up 5 companies; Kentucky - one, but it is not Louisville; and Illinois has one, but it is not Chicago.

Now, under “Logistics Specific”, I want to look at “Transportation Capabilities” and “Warehousing Capabilities”.

“Transportation Capabilities” allows multiple choices and shows a very robust list: Trucking; Rail Transportation; LTL; Full Load; Small Package: Freight Forwarder; International Courier; Other.

“Warehousing Capabilities” also allows multiple choices and really covers the waterfront: Cold Storage; Fresh Food Storage; Cross-Dock;Trans-load; Hazardous Materials; Pick and Pack; Pallet Based; Repackaging / Kitting; Labeling; Break Bulk: Other.

At that point I could start to find out more about the companies I had selected.

“Business Information” gives me other points to check: are they international?; what is their Website?; the number of employees?; annual revenue range?; Fortune 500 bracket?

“Fulfillment Models” gives me insight into their capabilities: Direct to Warehouse (Bulk); Direct to Warehouse (Cross Dock); International Scan Based Trading; Ship to Consumer (Direct): Ship to Consumer (Warehouse); Vendor Managed Inventory.

As for details about the companies, I was able to find these: 

  • IDNB Number
  • Global Location Number (GLN)
  • Back Office Applications
  • EDI Systems
  • Warehouse and Transportation Systems

I was also able to check for these other service capabilities:

  • Auditing
  • Tracking
  • Customer Service
  • Issue Resolution
  • OtherLogistics Planning and Consulting

I was even able to find out the industries and product classifications they currently serve.

Conclusion: I found only one (in Indianapolis).

RU needs to get more companies involved. Companies, other than current SPS Commerce clients, are VERY VERY important (per my interview).

Client quizzed me about two other companies. I responded that they were not yet in the database. He liked the approach that RU was taking and sent the link to join RU to the CEO's of both companies. His comment about RU: “This is good stuff”.

What are the benefits to logistics providers for joining RU? They can expand their business by connecting with retailers and suppliers looking for logistics partners. They will reach a wide audience of 40,000 organizations in the retail supply chain. They can market their unique capabilities, such as support for specific fulfillment models, geographies served and specialized warehousing attributes

I also intend to try some of the other areas of RU:

Retailers can identify suppliers with specific capabilities, such as support for drop shipping, e-commerce readiness or specific EDI capabilities. They can source new suppliers and products to add to their product catalog. Plus they can find additional information about suppliers such as employee information, location information and other contact details

Suppliers can promote their capabilities, such as support for drop shipping or specific EDI capabilities, to a broad audience of potential retail customers. They can ensure retailers have your correct contact and product information. Suppliers can share their item data and digital assets, providing another way to market their products to potential new customers

I am very pleased with Retail Universe. Maybe SPS will look at my comments and figure out ways to do things like multiple locations.

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