Relationships are central to the success of 3PLs and their customers, and 3PLs may be thought of as having two critical responsibilities—managing customer relationships that focus on the availability of capable supply chain services and providing or managing the provision of these services. For 3PLs, this means they are not only managing relationships with their direct customers but also with those organizations that have the assets to provide the needed services.
Of relevance to how these relationships are structured and how they progress is whether the shippers view themselves as strategic or tactical buyers of logistics service, or some combination of both. Tactical buyers have developed solutions but utilize 3PLs’ operational services and fulfillment. This year’s survey shows 43% consider their organization to be a strategic buyer, 37% to be a tactical buyer and 20% to be a combination of these.