Do you know how to differentiate between Logistics Operator 3PL and 4PL?

Barcelona, 8 July 2016.- The discussion groups of Linkedin are often, sometimes, quality information sources, useful to the professionals of the transport and logistics. For example, find the differences between 3PL and 4PL. The result were these contributions:

Arya Banerjee, M.Sc., M.B.A., CCLP The 3 PL service providers scope of work is limited to the extent of physical distribution of products but in the case of 4 PL it extends beyond and is also involved with the parent company to engage in calculating the ROCE, development of new products and markets .

Siddhartha Panapakam Thank You Arya Sir for the thoughtful insight. So is it right to say that 3PL is just a logistics provider where as 4PL is logistics outsourcer, may be consisting of 3PL’s as its branches to be outsourced?

Yves D. Gagnon 3PL works as freight motion specialist vendor for shippers 
4PL works as shipper freight management partner for all their entire freight 

Georg Mahn 3 PL is a service provider who is neither seller nor buyer and Moves / stores the material. 4PL is s.o. (neither seller nor buyer) who manages 3PLs for example.

Marcos Isaac Besides the fact that 4PLs manage Logistics Services Providers, such as 3PL & Carriers, they also add at some extent SCM skills: planning, SC and Network Design. They may take a sort of orchestration role among different providers

Scott Clemence 4PL’s are designed to be oversee and optimize your 3PLs. Consider a 4PL to be your outsourced Logistics Department.

Ajay Kumar Chaudhary 3PL is all about physical distribution and logistics. Warehousing, clearing and freight forwarding, packaging, material inward outward, safety, contacting transporter etc. Are some of the services 3PL provides to the consignor. In simple words it’s core on the field job.
On the other hand 4PL is all about supply chain management, planning, analysis, design and optimization. 4PL is outsourced service which can consist of tracking, customer support, supply chain planning, designing and optimization, analytic, reporting. It’s generally corporate job with less field work.
3PL is like executing things presently at real time and 4PL is like planning for future using past information and analysis of past execution for improving supply chain.
Both 3PL and 4PL are outsourced service provider to consignor.


Peter Stieffenhofer Interesting chat. In addition to all what has been said a 3 PL can also manage the full order-2-cash cycle. From order taking via invoicing up to dunning process. To answer Arya’s question how to describe the difference in 2 sentences I would suggest: A 3PL is an outsourced full service provider for all Logistics services where SC Mgmt. stays under control of the buyer (planning, replenishment, intra company shipments, etc.). A 4PL in addition can take over many of these processes and can orchestrate (as Marco already said) multiple 3PLs and in addition the SC of the buyer. The 4PL becomes a control tower.Mostrar menos

Bafaah Emmanuel What is 3PL and 4PL in full and are there challenges of 3PL and 4PLs??. A full service provider offers services in the 3 main categories warehousing, transport & order-2-cash

Nicolas de Mombynes 4PL is an integrator that assembles its
own resources, capacities and technologies with those of other providers
to design and manage complex Supply Chains.
so in other words it is the optimization of the 1pl +2pl+3pl .in my opinion it is a marketing new offer from consultant ?

Anthony Vaz 3PL is strategic partnership,long term commitment,multi-function arrangement,process integration and there are large range of 3PL companies who handle warehousing and transportation primarily. Non-asset owning 3PL companies are called 4PL.

Jon Northorpe I was always taught, in very simple terms: A 3PL is asset heavy, technology light, a 4PL is technology heavy, asset light – the inference here being that the 4PL uses systems and technology to drive value. This may be why few true 4PL models have survived given that 3PL players have become more technology enabled.


Chantal BRICE 3PL Vs 4PL is a great debate. For sure there is a lot of various opinions and definitions in this subject matter. 
We could agree that each of them is a concept that defines a level of “service integration” provided by some actors, respectively the logistics service providers or lead logistics providers and consulting service. 
3PL could be, in a contrat like SLA, all about inbound and outbound logistics, including DC opérations. In this framework, the principles on which each part has to be agreed, are the main part. 
4PL could be all about supply chain management, indeed, the highest service integrated. 

Ray Laurino A 3PL manages the physical inventory, warehousing, and transportation of a client’s material received from suppliers.

Ray Laurino A 4PL manages the transactional paper trail for a client who choses to contract out all aspects of Logistics. This is usually a manufacturer who desires to only put there resources into their core competency.

Sevilay Güven I have a simple definition: 3PL (3rd party logistics) is the company who is doing your logistics between the buyer and seller. 4PL is the company who provides systems for you to control your 3PL and your carrier and even your own staff to ensure the successfull supply chain operation, easy ?

Asma Samadi A 3PL targets a single function, whereas the 4PL manages the entire process.

Muthukannan Shanmuganathan In simple way , 3pl takes care only the logistic part between the supplier and buyer , whereas 4pl manages and incorporates in the whole supply chain process.

Armei Sales From what I know a 4PL employs the VMO (Vendor Managed Operations) concept. Thus, under a 4PL there can be several 3PLs providing the service. A 4PL does the end to end collaboration of a supply chain while a 3PL covers only a certain node or several nodes.


Scott Carson In essence a 3PL service provider is appointed to directly handle a complete domestic freight and/or storage and distribution task by another party.
An integrated outsourced warehousing and transport company such as us (Glen Cameron Group in Australia) is one example of a 3PL.
A 2PL service provider moves or handles freight directly from or to it’s customer to it’s customer’s nominated delivery location – an example of this being a transport company dealing direct with a customer for transport bookings.
A 4PL service provider co-ordinates a complete domestic or international supply chain task as far as origin through to end consignee (depending on their appointed terms) using technology to control/book/track/trace/manage this process, which can encompass 3PL services.
An example of a 4PL provider is DHL or a sophisticated technology based “aggregator” who manages the full supply chain task – this is where in recent years the definition of 4PL has become blurred

Sneha J 3 pl is logistic service providers freight forwarders , courier companies,transport services etc…
4 pl is single link between logistic provides and consultants like a complete SCM package.

Hobayomi AHAMADA 3PL deliver its services base on their own infrastructure(assets) when 4PL delivery a SCM consultant services with no asset

Zain Farooq 3PL and 4PL are same as if we talk about their role. Infact 4PL is also a form of 3PL and difference is that 4PL service provider does use its own name and works on the behalf of 3PL. There is a difference in contractual terms.

Rajiv Menon A key difference is a 4PL may not necessarily be asset owners. They just ochestrate the supply chain as a partner engaging best of breed asset providers( WH, Trans etc) through infomediary services and adapting advanced analytics to calibrate and monitor service performance to achieve competitive advantage. This means different portfolio of asset owners may be used by 4PL depending on the nature of delivery, the geography or different service levels. Multiple systems, processes and delivery methodoloy may be used in combination depending our varied, vast or complex the supply chain is. This also involves key decisions with regard to manufacturing locations, inventory placement and pull/push methodologies etc to achieve desired outcomes for your multiple supply chain requirements.

Nueva identidad corporativa AndSoft 2016 

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