Taking Your 3PL Beyond TMS Basics


Every 3PL has similar objectives: Win more of their customers’ freight; become an increasingly important business partner to each customer; and be able to handle as many customers as they’re able to win. What’s one common element to achieving all three? The TMS, and its ability to move a 3PL (and its freight) beyond the basics.  

What does “beyond TMS basics” mean? 

Most TMS products stay within “basic” territory for one of two reasons: they handle multiple operations, but only at the most surface level, or they are very narrowly focused on one specific kind aspect of transportation. Going beyond the basics means plugging gaps – either advancing operations beyond what a surface level TMS can handle or consolidating all operations in one place. Only moving beyond the basics, with a single TMS, will enable a 3PL to meet its core objectives. 

Winning more freight 

What’s one of the biggest impediments to winning all of your current customers’ freight? How about breadth and depth of managed services supported by your TMS. After all, it’s difficult to win that which your system isn’t set up to manage. Many customers’ needs span multiple over the road modes, and while many TMS offerings cover LTL and even TL, few feature parcel or drayage, and almost none include all four – which may well be necessary to winning all of their shipments. Shipper loads will also vary in their complexity, and certain loads will not be manageable without advanced planning and optimization algorithms. 

Becoming a key partner 

The more integral a partner you become, the less you have to worry about competitors swooping in and winning away your customers. Many customers today look to 3PL partners not only to provide transportation services, but technology access, too. Offering a sufficient number of services is absolutely key to winning every load today, but being that technology partner requires consolidation around a single TMS for two reasons. First is the ability to integrate, and share data, with customers’ systems. Second, it is essential to provide customer access via portals, as many want to be able to self-manage certain aspects of transportation. These advanced TMS features help cement your position as an indispensable partner well into the future. 

Never turning away business 

Nobody ever wants to turn away business because they lack the capacity to service additional accounts, but each team member can only handle so much. However, the amount each person is able to manage is highly dependent on the tools they are using and their ability to automate multiple workflows. The more basic the technology, the less “scalable” each person is. Learning multiple systems, constantly switching back and forth between them, and frequent manual intervention take time. Adding additional headcount, too, is often neither feasible nor sustainable. The only answer is enhancing the human-technology partnership through the greatest possible degree of automation. 

So, what’s next? 

Are you nodding along, saying: “Yup, that’s exactly what we’re trying to do,” while realizing that maybe it’s your TMS holding you back? Connect with us, and one of our TMS experts will demonstrate the three modules only found together in 3G’s TMS.  




Publish date

November 15, 2023



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