Eight out of every 10 companies in the United States use a third-party logistics provider (3PL) for at least one area of their supply chain, and not surprisingly, the economic recession has hit 3PLs hard as their manufacturing customers have had less freight to move. In its latest annual survey of 3PLs, Northeastern University identified the following "top 10" trends on the minds of 3PL CEOs as they look forward to 2010:
- Slow recovery of 3PL business, particularly in Europe.
- Many adversarial customers will become ex-customers.
- Stronger relationships will emerge with many key customers.
- More emphasis on "quality" customers and solid verticals.
- Less aggressive posture on mergers and acquisitions.
- Slower pace of geographic expansion.
- More emphasis placed by large 3PLs on alliances with other 3PLs, carriers and middlemen.
- Failures among small/medium size 3PLs in all regions.
- Chronic management shortages will be lessened due to provider and user layoffs.
- Sustainability issues will receive greater attention, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region.