If you're a shipper, booking a load for delivery to a customer can be more complicated than it seems. What mode of transportation should be used? Which carrier should you call? How do you know if you're getting a good rate?
Developing the expertise in house to answer all of these questions can be expensive and time consuming. That's where 3PLs come in. A third-party logistics provider will not usually provide transportation services, although it may be affilaited with a transportation service provider. Rather, 3PLs typically offer what is best described as transportation management services.
Analyzing routes and rates, negotiating the best rates and other contract terms—all of these transportation functions fall under the umbrella of many 3PLs. Many of these functions require at least two things: industry experience and powerful information systems. A 3PL providing transportation management services will have these in spades and will put them at the disposal of their customers, to get the best deals, to optimize shipping lanes and transportation modes, and to provide business intelligence which can help their customers make better decisions.