This announcement underscores two important trends in the 3PL industry: brokerage is becoming a “must have” service for 3PLs if they want to meet the full transportation needs of their clients, and 3PLs (especially North American-based ones) are looking to Europe for growth. Over the past few years, for example, C.H. Robinson has made several acquisitions in Europe, including Polish freight forwarder Apreo Logistics in 2012, and the company now has 51 offices and over 1,000 employees throughout the region.
Expanding globally and introducing new services are two common ways for 3PLs to drive growth. But there’s another path to growth few 3PLs have taken: penetrating the mid-market. The majority of small and mid-sized shippers still don’t have a transportation management system and they still manage their operations in-house. For a variety of reasons (high cost of sales being one of them), most 3PLs have historically underserved this segment of the market, focusing their sales efforts on large shippers instead. Transportation Management Systems (TMS) vendors like MercuryGate, 3Gtms, LeanLogistics, and others are now going after this market opportunity. When — and how — will 3PLs?