To Build or Not to Build: Do E-commerce Players Need Third-Party Logistics Providers? 

Ecommerce & RetailMay 29, 2024
To Build or Not to Build: Do E-commerce Players Need Third-Party Logistics Providers? 

E-commerce is reshaping retail, and the key question is: Should companies build their own logistics or rely on third-party experts? Let's discover the surprising truth and shocking stats behind each strategy! 


Building In-House Logistics: Benefits and Challenges 

Building an in-house logistics network offers e-commerce players complete control over their distribution and fulfillment operations. This control can lead to optimized logistics tailored specifically to the company’s needs, potentially enhancing efficiency. According to a 2021 report by McKinsey, companies with in-house logistics can see up to a 15% reduction in delivery times due to streamlined processes tailored specifically for their products and delivery models. 

However, the challenges are significant. The initial capital expenditure for warehousing, technology, and fleet can be prohibitively high. For example, Amazon spent approximately $61 billion on fulfillment in 2020 alone, illustrating the scale of investment required (Amazon Annual Report, 2020). Additionally, the complexity of logistics management, including technology integration, staffing, and regulatory compliance, can divert focus from core e-commerce activities. 


Utilizing Third-Party Logistics Providers: Benefits and Challenges 

On the other hand, utilizing 3PL providers allows e-commerce businesses to leverage expertise and infrastructure specifically designed for logistics. This can lead to cost efficiencies and scalability that is difficult to achieve independently. The 2020 Third-Party Logistics Study revealed that 75% of companies using 3PL services reported reduced logistics costs, and 86% noted improvements in service delivery. 

Despite these advantages, relying on 3PLs comes with potential downsides. Loss of control over the shipping and handling process can result in inconsistencies in customer experience. Moreover, integration issues between the company’s systems and those of the 3PL can arise, potentially leading to delays and information silos. A survey by Capgemini (2019) found that 35% of businesses reported challenges in integrating IT systems with their 3PL providers, affecting real-time data access and process transparency. 


In conclusion, the decision to build an in-house logistics network or partner with a 3PL provider depends on an e-commerce player's unique needs, scale, and goals, balancing control and potential long-term savings with the expertise, flexibility, and scalability of 3PLs. What strategy will you choose to enhance your logistics and boost customer satisfaction? 



  • 2020 Third-Party Logistics Study. (2020). The State of Logistics Outsourcing.  
  • Amazon. (2020). 2020 Annual Report.  
  • Capgemini. (2019). The 2019 Third-Party Logistics Study. 
  • McKinsey & Company. (2021). Logistics reimagined: An essential guide to the supply chain of the future.