How to Start a 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) Business

Find out what you need to know to start a 3PL business today.

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Third-party logistics (3PL) has become an indispensable cog in the dynamic world of commerce. Powering modern commerce, 3PL ensures that goods move seamlessly from manufacturers to consumers.

As we navigate the age of e-commerce and instant gratifications, the 3PL industry presents boundless growth potential and opportunities. With companies increasingly outsourcing their logistics to boost efficiency and cut costs, stepping into the 3PL sector might be the next big move for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Understanding 3PL and Its Market Demand

A 3PL business refers to third-party logistics companies that handle another company’s logistics operations.

These businesses deal with transportation, warehousing, picking and packing, inventory forecasting, order fulfillment, or a combination of these services.

As a 3PL provider, the responsibility doesn’t just end with transportation or warehousing. It’s about becoming an integral part of your client’s supply chain, ensuring goods are stored correctly, transported safely, and delivered timely.

Today, the market is rife with demand. Companies, big and small, are seeking efficient logistics and supply chain solutions. They want partners who can help them navigate the complex maze of logistics, ensuring that their goods reach consumers promptly and in pristine condition.

Steps to Establish Your 3PL Business

Before venturing into the vast ocean of 3PL, let’s anchor ourselves with a clear roadmap.

1. Research and Planning

Launching a 3PL business isn’t about diving in head-first; it’s about charting the waters. Understand the logistics landscape in your region. Each region has its unique challenges and opportunities.

Next, identify your niche.

What type of goods or sectors resonate with your interest and expertise? Is it perishable goods, catering to the e-commerce boom, or handling industrial machinery?

Furthermore, remember the age-old saying: “Know thy enemy.” Evaluate your competition. Understand their strengths and weaknesses. But more importantly, find your unique selling proposition (USP). This includes determining your warehousing pricing and pallet storage fee structure.

What can you offer that others can’t? That can be a game-changer in this competitive space.

2. Securing Necessary Licenses and Permits

Regulations in the logistics sector are stringent. For good reason, too; it’s a business where small errors can have significant ramifications.

Familiarize yourself with the regulatory requirements of a 3PL business in your region.

Additionally, the right warehouse insurance, commercial trucking insurance, and risk management strategies must be stressed more in a business where the unforeseen is almost routine. It’s not just about compliance; it’s about ensuring business continuity, even when the tide turns.

3. Setting Up Infrastructure

Your location can either propel your fulfillment center or bog it down. Find a strategic location for your warehouse close to major transport hubs, with good connectivity, that offers easy warehouse access. Securing a warehouse lease for your company is critical to business operations.

Moreover, in an era of digital transformation, investing in technology isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity. A robust IT system enables better tracking, streamlined communication, and effective management, ensuring you stay ahead in the race.

And if you’re looking for a way to connect with potential clients for your warehouse, consider checking out our lead generation platform. It’s a valuable resource to find 3PL customers.

Starting a 3PL business is a journey filled with challenges, but the rewards can be immensely gratifying with preparation and perseverance. Dive in– the logistics world awaits!

4. Building a Network

In the 3PL sector, your network is your net worth. Building a robust network is akin to laying the foundation of a skyscraper; it determines how high you can soar.

Start by partnering with reliable transport providers. Collaborations with trucking companies, shipping lines, and airlines can drastically expand your operational capacity. But don’t stop there.

Establish relationships with manufacturers, retailers, and other potential clients. These connections can bring in business and offer valuable insights into the evolving demands of the market.

5. Hiring and Training

A ship is only as good as its crew. And in the 3PL business, your team is your most valuable asset.

Roles such as operations managers, customer service representatives, and logistical planners are essential cogs in the 3PL machine. While hiring the right logistics talent is crucial, investing in training is equally vital.

Proper training ensures smooth operations, adherence to logistics protocols, and a deep understanding of the client’s requirements. It’s what turns a good 3PL business into a great one.

6. Marketing Your 3PL Business

Once your operations are in place, it’s time to let the world know. Start by developing a distinct brand identity. Your logo, website, and marketing materials should echo the professionalism and efficiency of your services.

However, more than having a website is needed in today’s digital age. Implement digital marketing strategies tailored for B2B services. That could range from LinkedIn campaigns, and PPC ads, to SEO practices aimed at businesses searching for 3PL services.

Additionally, the world of logistics is filled with industry events and trade shows. These platforms offer golden opportunities for networking, brand exposure, and even securing deals on the spot.

Finally, check out our ultimate guide to growing your 3PL sales. It walks you through more specifics about how to grow your business.

Challenges to Anticipate

Regardless of the industry, the realm of business is a landscape dotted with challenges.

The 3PL sector, pivotal in the global commerce ecosystem, is susceptible to these hurdles. Economic tides, ever-shifting, can dramatically alter the currents of global trade. A sudden downturn or boom can influence both demand and the very mechanics of day-to-day operations.

Moreover, the regulatory environment enveloping the logistics arena is constantly in flux. Adapting to these changes often requires a minor tweak and a comprehensive overhaul of processes, ensuring that every facet of the operation remains compliant and efficient.

The exponential pace at which technology is advancing adds another layer of complexity. In an industry where real-time tracking, efficient communication, and streamlined operations hinge on tech, staying abreast of the newest innovations isn’t just a competitive advantage—it’s an imperative.

For those in the 3PL sector, this means continuous learning, investing in tech infrastructure, and fostering a culture of adaptability. This proactive approach mitigates potential disruptions and paves the way for growth and innovation.

Finally, the 3PL industry is both hyper competitive AND low margin, and it will be a challenge to break through these barriers against long-standing competition. Knowing what you’re getting into before embarking on the journey is paramount to your ultimate success. This industry isn’t for the faint of heart, and it will take an iron-clad and well thought out plan and tremendous execution to succeed.

Concluding Thoughts on Starting a 3PL Business

Embarking on a 3PL business journey promises potential rewards as vast as the oceans these goods traverse.

Yet, like any voyage, it’s filled with its share of challenges. The key lies in continual innovation, adaptability, and an undying spirit to navigate the dynamic waters of logistics. To prospective entrepreneurs, the horizon beckons.

With diligence, foresight, and daring, you might set the next gold standard in logistics.

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How IT Works

  • Businesses fill out a form online on one of our websites
  • Live agents screen the leads, with only 50% of the leads passing through the screening process
  • We match them to up to 5 warehouses based upon your filters you set up in our system (usually only sent to an average of 3 due to location and commodity restrictions of the project)
  • We send you an email with all of the lead details, including: Contact information, orders processed per month, storage space requirements, description of the product, where they want the warehouse to be located, and why they’re looking to outsource
  • You contact the lead, get them a proposal, and compete for their business!

Are You a Good Fit ?

  • IF YOUR COMPANY: Is Entrepreneurial
  • Is looking for Qualified Prospects
  • Targets SMALL to MEDIUM sized businesses
  • Works with a multitude of Commodities
  • Is Quick & Persistent with Leads
Vendor Reviews & Awards

warehouse review

We were named a “2016 Best Fulfillment Service” by Fit Small Business”. As a part of their review process, they conduct “undercover” surveys, interview customers, and speak with industry experts, factoring in the service level of each provider. Their list of top fulfillment services includes the top 3-5 businesses in the sector.

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warehouse review

In 2017, we were named the Best Fulfillment Warehouse Matchmaker Service by Fit Small Business. It was noted that our company “reviews, screens, and constantly updates their listing of more than 500 individual fulfillment warehouse solutions, large and small. Plus, they understand the many factors that make up a successful logistics partnership, from warehouse locations, to price, to shipping specialties, to customer service.”

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warehouse review

In 2017, was awarded top 25 status for best Warehouse and Fulfillment blogs on the Web by Feed Spot. This particular list of blogs is the most comprehensive list of warehouse blogs on the Internet.

warehouse review

In 2018, was awarded top 50 status for best Warehousing and Fulfillment blogs on the Web by 6 River Systems.

“Our family owned and operated logistic company was at a serious turning point when we reached out to This decision was the best move possible as provided instant success landing B2C clients. The solid leads we received allowed us to change the course of our business. We were able to connect with businesses requiring our exact services. The greatest asset is these potential clients are real leads not tire kickers. We plan to continue growing through this long term relationship.”

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warehouse review

We just wanted to thank you for your innovation in business leads.  We had a close ratio of 35% in 2015 which equated to a 60% increase in our warehouse division.  We are pleased to notify you that 2016 started off with a BANG!  We officially closed the biggest deal from the website with a customer out of California.  Because of this sale, we are expanding into a bigger footprint to sustain their current business and expected growth.  Thank you again and Cheers to you and your team!!”

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warehouse review has helped grow our business through their qualified leads. We use several different sources for leads but the highest percentage of closings come from provides us with pre filtered leads based off of our company profile. We only get the leads that we can provide a service to the customer.

As the owner and president of DFW Distribution, I am always on the lookout for a better, cheaper, more efficient way to find new customers. provides all that and more with their pre-qualified leads.

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warehouse review

Merlin Logistics is proud and values our partnership with Warehousing and Fulfillment. Warehousing and Fulfillment services is so vital to growth of our company. The difference is astounding in the sales numbers we saw increased from the time we started services with Warehousing and Fulfillment. We saw these numbers increase by 98.5% in our sales volumes in our first year with this great service. Our Sales Manager didn’t get just prospects or cold calling numbers, what they found were warm reception on the other end of the line. It just goes to shows the quality of these prospects were really well harness and thoroughly verified by the great folks at Warehousing and Fulfillment.

When we first started our business of providing third party logistics services, we did numerous marketing campaigns to drive in customers, but these campaigns can be very expensive to implement and not to mention the time spent managing each project. With prospects from Warehousing and Fulfillment, we found to be very cost effective. So the only thing we manage now is customers. We also found that if we had any issue we were able to get a warm voice on the other end of the line with solutions to our problems.

To make this long story short, Warehousing and Fulfillment expect nothing but the best service, great product, and a great partner to grow your business. They are heads and shoulders above any prospecting lead sourcing companies in the U.S.A. Best in the business. I highly recommend Warehousing and Fulfillment.

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warehouse review

I have been a client of since August of 2010.  I love them!  I started out by limiting them to $250 per month, however as time went on, I’ve set it up where they notify me in any specific month when I have reached that point and then I get to decide if I want more leads for that month. I do say yes when that happens.

The leads are always within my specifications.  Occasionally, one of my sales reps is already working on a lead that they send me.  All I do is email them, and they deduct it from my invoice.  They’ve never questioned me and their response time is EXTREMELY Timely!

Our capture rate for turning their leads into clients is about 18%.  The response rate to my initial inquiry is 90%.  The leads are real. is built into my marketing budget indefinitely.  I like to use them when I’m training new sales people, because the information provided is set up for the salesperson.  They are also great incentives to my seasoned sales team as well.

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warehouse review

We have really grown with your program…You have a great program!

warehouse review has helped us grow our business dramatically and is well worth the investment.

warehouse review

Our four largest clients all came from and we have actually had to stop taking leads for the next several months as we need to add space. Over the years I have been extremely impressed with the quality of leads that truly are searching for a fulfillment solution.

What Our Customers Say About Us And Our Work

Jo-Ann Hill

I want to say thank you for your help in finding a warehouse so quickly. Your service was amazing. I received replies the same day and have selected a company that will work well for us. I definitely recommend your services.

Vee Zeniuk

I wanted to express my gratitude for your services and let you know that it was a very enjoyable experience! We have selected one of the companies and they are awesome!


You are doing such a great job and this service that you provide is a life saver for people especially startups like me....We cannot spend budgets on researching as much as the big firms can...and you provide us one stop solution which will answer all our questions.

Joyce Sloss

I just wanted to let you know that I selected one of your vendors as our fulfillment house. They can do what we need and we’re looking forward to working with them. They can handle our “special projects” fulfillment, which was key to our decision in bringing them onboard. I appreciate this service. It was great for our company.

Jeffrey Schmidt

I didn’t know there was so much difference in fulfillment companies — this was my first time in need of this sort of service. After a Google search I luckily stumbled upon They saved me an incredible amount of time and money. Within minutes I had a couple of emails from good companies that fit my situation. I am very appreciative of their help.

Eric Kolb

Warehousing and Fulfillment was the perfect matchmaker in finding us a fulfillment partner. They provided several great options, all of whom were very responsive and willing to take the time to talk through our needs. We ended up going with W&F’s top match and we couldn’t be happier. I highly recommend W&F, particularly to anyone whose business relies on a strong fulfillment partner.

Paul Sauer

We were having multiple issues with our 3PL fulfilling warranty replacement parts. Our company needed to make a change and make one fast. I reached out to to facilitate my search for a reputable, service oriented 3PL that can handle the demands of a highly seasonal business to pick, pack and ship parts quickly. I received several qualified 3PL leads that matched what we were looking for. After reviewing and speaking with many one stood out from the rest, and we found a great partner. We could not recommend enough.

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Denis Mills

We found the perfect third-party fulfillment vendor through insightQuote. We never would have found them on our own. We can’t thank you enough and our customers thank you too.

Sarah De Munck

Thanks for all of your help. This was a huge undertaking for us and your guidance was extremely helpful!

Gwynne MacHattie

Thank you so much for your excellent service. We have chosen one to go forward with. This has saved us a great deal of time.

Ash Cook

They really listened to our requirements and then matched us with great vendors that could meet our specific challenges.

Corky Bless

I just wanted to say thank you so much for setting me up with these vendors. I have found pricing better than I ever expected to find.

Brian Chui

Legit, this was such a good experience ... I was shocked how fast the vendors contacted me and got the ball rolling. This was such a pleasant experience

Donald Willick

What an awesome service. A problem I fought with daily for over 3 weeks, solved in less than 24 hours.