The Influence of E-commerce for Third-party Logistics : Typical demands for 3PL services and the adaptation by 3PL
Problem The use of e-commerce has become increasingly popular, largely due to its benefits help firms to improve the competitiveness and the integration. However, not all of the firms using e-commerce are successful. Many new promising e-commerce com-panies are now struggling with economic survival, even have failed, often due to ne-glecting the role of logistics. This is because using e-commerce requires them to review and design a new logistical approach in order to deal with the customers’ demands. To build entirely new logistical functions for e-commerce, it seems to be difficult since not all of firms have an ability to solve this matter. Using 3PL services, thus, seems to be the best option for e-commerce. It leads to the need of 3PL firms to change the services in order to adapt to e-commerce. But the previous studies have not paid much attention on this issue, so it should be explored.
Purpose The purpose of this thesis is to investigate services and adaption of 3PL pro-vider to e-commerce customers. It consists of two parts. Firstly, we investigate the typi-cal services provided for e-commerce customers from 3PL providers and how these dif-fer to regular customers. Secondly, how 3PL providers adapt to the presence of e-commerce customers will be clarified.
Method This thesis employs an exploratory study with a mixed method. Data are col-lected through survey questionnaires and semi-structured interviews by phone with sev-en 3PL firms in Sweden. The findings then have been analyzed by using the theoretical framework.
Conclusion Firstly, we conclude that the services 3PL providers typically offer for e-commerce customers are warehousing, packaging, transportation, labeling, product re-turn and inventory management. The 3PL providers have made some changes in their services in order to adapt to e-commerce customers. For example, different 3PL provid-ers have different distribution channels to serve e-commerce customers. Secondly, our findings support the conclusion that there are five specific challenges 3PL providers face with e-commerce customers. These challenges are product return handling, fore-casting, warehousing, distribution, and integrated IT system. Finally, the degree of ad-aptation of 3PL providers to e-commerce customers is dependent on the current type of 3PL providers for regular customers.
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