This article answers the most common questions we receive about 4PL Network Manager.
What is 4PL Network Manager?
4PL Network Manager is a paid program of software, services, and tools that link 3PL warehouse providers together to build a network of warehouse capacity, which we refer to as the "4PL network". This network is designed to help 3PLs better serve their customers by opening up new markets, allowing for geographic distribution of inventory, and extending new value-added services across the supply chain.
What are the main benefits of 4PL Network Manager for 3PLs?
There are a number of advantages to participating in the 4PL network, but here are benefits we think you'll care about most:
- Expand geographic reach: Connect with other 3PLs all over the country to open regional and national opportunities
- Increase service offerings: Offer additional value-added services to your customers, like faster shipping times and greater storage capacities
- Gain competitive edge: Complete jobs at scale with a network of trusted peers to assist in ecommerce fulfillment, inventory control, Amazon fulfillment services, and more
In addition, joining the 4PL network brings referral opportunities:
- Get matched with the right company: 3PL Central can match you with companies that fit your needs
- Own your relationships: Once a match is made, you own contracting and working with your 3PL partner
- Evaluate performance: Assess your partnership with standardized and measured key performance indicators (KPIs)
What is included with 4PL Network Manager?
The initial rollout of 4PL Network Manager is focused on connecting 3PLs who have growing fulfillment volumes with 3PLs who have available warehouse capacity and are looking to help service brands and shippers on an outsourced and referral basis. We're collecting warehouse service availability details from participating 3PLs to help best match fulfillment needs with capacity around the country. (To learn more about this, see Entering Warehouse Details for 4PL Network.)
Participants in this stage of the 4PL network will also receive access to a program-specific version of our order management platform used to display inventory and route orders between facilities across multiple 3PLs. Order management access can also be extended to your customers for complete inventory and order fulfillment visibility.
What are some upcoming enhancements that I can expect in the future?
3PL Central's Development team is working on an interface specific to the 4PL network with single-sign-on (SSO) capabilities, which will consolidate all 4PL network activity into a dedicated user experience. This will include not only inventory and order routing that we have available today but also receiving, work orders, and billing functions to streamline the 4PL and invoicing process.
Am I eligible to participate in the 4PL network?
To join the 4PL network, one of these statements must apply to your business:
- You have existing business and need partner capacity to help scale your sales and service offerings.
- You have available capacity to take on referral business from other 3PL warehouse providers.
3PLs who are bringing business to the network are known as "owning 3PLs", as they own the relationship with the customer. 3PLs that provide capacity and services are known as "servicing 3PLs". It is possible to be both an owning and servicing 3PL at the same time.
Do 3PLs have direct relationships with the customers/brands they're servicing through the 4PL network?
Every customer has a direct relationship with a 3PL who owns the relationship for billing, customer service, support, strategy, and other services that a 3PL would generally perform for their customers. When business is outsourced to additional 3PLs, those servicing 3PLs have a relationship with the owning 3PL and not directly with the customer.
What does typical referral business look like?
Referral business is focused on ecommerce fulfillment with emerging brands shipping 100–250 small parcel orders per day. These customers are often looking for distributed inventory across several facilities, negotiated small parcel rates to reduce shipping costs, and other specialty services like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) replenishment.
How is pricing managed?
As the 3PL that owns the relationship with the customer, you are able to set your own tariff rates for services. A 4PL network standardized tariff is put in place between warehouses for consistent pricing. This model reduces friction in the onboarding process and gives the 3PL confidence in selling new business at a known cost.
How do I know that my warehouse partners are good service fits?
Partner 3PLs that service business within the 4PL network are thoroughly vetted by 3PL Central subject-matter experts (SMEs) and must meet certain standards for volume and service excellence. Additionally, 3PL Central actively engages in all partnership aspects to ensure business contacts are running smoothly and can take correction if they are not.
I am looking for 3PL partners to help extend my services. Can 4PL Network Manager help?
This is precisely why we built 4PL Network Manager. Our growing network of participating 3PLs are located across the country and offer a wide variety of specialty services—from storage to pick and pack to Seller Fulfilled Prime and more. We are expertly matching your service needs with best fit warehouse partners.
If you're interested in participating, please complete our 4PL Network Manager Survey to get started.
I know a shipper/brand that is looking for a distributed inventory and 3PL services. Can they use 4PL Network Manager?
Yes, we believe in strong relationships between 3PLs and brands. We are consistently matching brands with best fit 3PLs that participate in the 4PL network to ensure the best business fit. If their needs are focused on high-volume ecommerce, FBA, storage, geographic distribution, and reduced costs, please direct them to our 3PL Service Finder form.