Top 5 Trends in the Logistics/3PL Industry for 2024

Investopedia defines the Logistics or 3PL (third-party logistics) industry as comprised of companies that manage “The overall process by which resources are acquired, stored and transported to a final destination.” Below we list in order of increasing importance this year’s trends having the greatest impact on the Logistics industry and its customers. (We earn no compensation from the links herein.)

5. Sustainability/Green Operations

Amidst pressure to reduce their carbon footprint, 3PL providers are adopting the use of eco-friendly packaging, route optimization, and EVs. The pressure emanates from ever-growing regulatory red tape and to a lesser degree, customer concerns. Eco-initiatives do not directly drive 3PL’s core operational efficiency and could even reduce it.
  • Geodis: Pioneers EV use in urban areas, carbon-neutral shipping options and sustainable energy sources to power warehouse operations.
  • DB Schenker: Uses EVs and solar-powered warehouses. Proposes to reach carbon-neutrality by 2030.

4. Advanced Supply Chain Visibility

3PL providers are investing in IoT, AI, and blockchain technologies to gain greater supply chain visibility. Real-time tracking and data analytics offer opportunities to optimize transportation speed, price and security.
  • Kuehne + Nagel: Applies IoT and blockchain tech to better understand where cargo is now, where it’s going and when. K+N extends this visibility to its customers as well.
  • C.H. Robinson: Leverages AI and advanced analytics for global supply chain visibility and predictive insights via its Navisphere Vision platform.

3. Automation and Robotics

Automation is transforming 3PL warehouses and distribution centers. It enhances productivity, accuracy, and reduces labor costs by sparing humans the performance of repetitive, and therefore potentially harmful, tasks.
  • XPO Logistics: Robots and AI optimize warehouse operations and improve accurate execution of orders.
  • DHL Supply Chain: Robotic picking and automated guided vehicles (AGVs) enhance efficiency and scalability.

2. E-commerce Fulfillment Services

3PL providers are expanding their fulfillment services to meet the e-commerce industry’s demand for fast, reliable delivery. Once rare but now increasingly expected, same-day deliveries require optimized last-mile logistics and sophisticated inventory management systems.
  • Rakuten Super Logistics: Focuses on same-day deliveries. Company’s “Super Logistics” system uses proprietary IP to optimize order fulfillment.
  • ShipBob: Comprehensive solutions for e-commerce vendors including fast shipping, real-time inventory tracking, returns management, etc. Integrates its shipment management platform with customers’ online e-commerce platform.

1. Data-Driven Decision Making

The most transformative of all trends and that’s because big data and sophisticated analytics enhance all 3PL core functions -- from route optimization to inventory management. That means smarter, more efficient, more anticipatory cargo management.
  • Ryder System: Uses data analytics to optimize logistics operations, enhance fleet management, and improve service levels. Leverages predictive maintenance to reduce fleet downtime, reduce delays.
  • Uber Freight: Provides data-driven logistics solutions, leveraging big data to optimize supply chain performance, reduce costs. Transplace’s “Control Tower” tech enables customers to view shipment status in real-time and make informed decisions.
Kuhn Capital team members provided strategic advisory services to R4 Systems, leading WMS/EAM applications vendor
Bell Industries, a computer reverse logistics vendor, retained Kuhn Capital team members to provide a fairness opinion
Kuhn Capital team members provided strategic advisory services to Janus, an innovative last mile package caching and delivery services vendor
SCM services vendor Express Logistics retained a Kuhn Capital team member to initiate its sale to epac Technologies
Petroleum storage vendor Dunhill Terminals retained a Kuhn Capital team member to initiate its acquisition by Arc Terminals
Sir James Goldsmith retained a Kuhn Capital team member to initiate his acquisition of pulp and paper conglomerate Crown Zellerbach