The Great Debate: 3PL vs. Running Your Own Warehouse

Before we jump in, let’s get one thing clear. This article aims to be neutral. We’re not pushing you to choose a 3PL company over running your own warehouse or vice versa. The reality is both options have their pros and cons, and what works for one business might not work for another.

Be careful who you listen to when making a big decision like this. A lot of the advice out there is biased, especially from companies that want to sell you their services. They might give you a lot of reasons to use a 3PL (that’s a company that handles storage and shipping for you) and just a couple of reasons to do it yourself. So, keep that in mind as you read on. This article aims to give you a fair look at both choices.

Quick Refresher on What a 3PL Company Does

A Third-Party Logistics (3PL) company is a service provider that takes care of various logistics needs for businesses. These services can range from warehousing and distribution to transportation and freight forwarding. Essentially, a 3PL company acts as an outsourced logistics department, allowing businesses to focus on their core activities while the 3PL handles the logistical operations.

Why Do Companies Outsource to 3PLs?

Outsourcing logistics to a 3PL company can offer various advantages. Below are some of the top reasons why companies opt for this route:

  • No Need for Fixed Cost Infrastructure and Headcount: When you outsource, you eliminate the need to invest in warehousing, transportation, and personnel. This is especially beneficial for smaller or startup businesses that may find these costs prohibitive.
  • Industry Expertise, Partnerships: 3PL companies bring expertise in logistics and supply chain management, offering you insights and efficiencies you might not have otherwise.
  • Volume Buying Power: Due to their volume, 3PLs often have better rates and terms with carriers, passing some of those savings on to you.
  • Seamless Sales Channel Integration and IT Capabilities: Most 3PL companies offer advanced technology for inventory management, order processing, and tracking, saving you the trouble and expense of setting up these systems yourself.
  • Large Geographic Footprint for Affordable 2-Day Shipping and Global Reach: 3PLs often have multiple locations, making it easier for you to enter new markets or take advantage of more strategic locations.

What Is a In-House Warehousing?

In-house warehousing is when a business handles all aspects of the warehouse process by themselves rather than outsourcing. The primary warehouse function is to serve as a storage hub, but it often goes beyond that to include order fulfillment, inventory management, and shipping logistics.

Why Do Companies Manage Their Own Fulfillment Warehouses?

Running your own warehouse has its strong points. Let’s explore why some companies prefer to keep things in-house.

  • Control Over Inventory and Operations: You’re the boss! When you run your own warehouse, you make the rules. You have full control over how things are done, from how products are stored to how orders are packed and shipped.
  • Quick Decisions When Necessary: If you spot a problem or see an opportunity for improvement, you can act on it right away. No need to go through a third party.
  • Fully Customizable Experience Done Your Way, Always: In your own warehouse, you can set things up exactly how you want. You’re not stuck with the ways a 3PL service does things.
  • Ability to Adapt and Change: If your business grows or changes, your warehouse can easily adapt. You can add new features or change processes without having to consult anyone else.
  • Direct Oversight and Quality Assurance: You care the most about your products and your business. Let’s be honest; no one will care more about your products than you do. When you manage your own warehouse, you can ensure everything always meets your high standards. The details matter, so whether it’s making sure orders are shipped on time—even if it’s 5:00 on a Friday night—or not being okay with even a small error rate, you have the final say.
  • In-House Expertise and Product Knowledge: Who knows your products better than you? In your own warehouse, your team can become experts on what you sell. This helps with everything from storage to shipping.
  • Business Smarts: Every business has its special needs and quirks. When you manage your own warehouse, you can use your deep understanding of your business to make everything run smoother.

What are the Key Differences between 3PL versus Running Your Own Warehouse?

Both have their pros and cons. Let’s see what sets them apart.


  • 3PL: Using a 3PL means another company handles your stuff. This could be fine if you trust them, but remember, you won’t have the last word on many things.
  • Your Warehouse: If you like calling the shots, having your own place lets you control everything from A to Z.


  • 3PL: These services have their own methods. They might adjust a bit for you, but mostly, you’ll need to follow their lead.
  • Your Warehouse: In your own place, you decide how things work. Need special shelves or a different way to handle returns? You make it happen.


  • 3PL: A big plus of 3PL is you don’t pay for a building, trucks, or a team. This can help small businesses or new ones.
  • Your Warehouse: You’ll need to pay for everything, but if you sell a lot, it might save you money in the end.


  • 3PL: With a 3PL, you can pay more attention to selling or bringing out new stuff since you’re not worrying about storage and shipping.
  • Your Warehouse: Having your own place takes time and energy. You’ll need to manage it, which could take you away from other parts of the business.

Quality and Care

  • 3PL: They’re good at what they do, but they won’t care about your stuff as much as you do.
  • Your Warehouse: When you run the show, you ensure everything’s up to your standards.

Choosing the Right Option for Your Business

Deciding between running your own warehouse and outsourcing to a 3PL company is a big step. Each option has its benefits and challenges, and what’s right for one business may not be the best fit for another. That’s why it’s crucial to weigh your options carefully.

If you’d like more information on becoming in-house warehousing solutions or finding a company to handle fulfillment for your growing business, contact us now. Let us help you pick what’s best for your business.

FAQs about 3PL versus Warehouse

What are the Five Basic Steps in Warehouse Layout?

The first step in warehouse layout is allocating space for different functions like storage, packing, and shipping. The second step is designing the workflow to ensure products move efficiently through the warehouse, followed by selecting the right equipment, like shelves and forklifts. Fourth is integrating technology for tracking and management. The fifth step is putting in place safety measures to protect both workers and goods.

What is the Purpose of a Warehouse?

A warehouse serves as a storage space for products until they are sold or shipped to various locations.

Why is 3PL Important to a Company?

A 3PL company takes over logistics tasks, allowing a business to focus on its core activities like product development or marketing.

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