4pl logistics
22 Feb

Top 15 Considerations for Selecting 4PL Logistics Partners

When it comes to effective and profitable road transport management, it is undeniably crucial you get a reliable 4PL provider to handle your logistics. First, understand the difference between 3PL and 4PL in logistics. Knowing the potential value of a 4PL integrated early into the process is key to saving you more and delivering greater service.

What is 4PL? The idea of a 4PL is an innovative service that gathers capabilities, resources, and technological advancement to run a business completely. How Does A 4PL Benefit My Business? A 4PL combines an existing network of valued carrier relations and a clear understanding of how to enhance performance on selected routes. 

Nunners’ 4PL experts develop, implement, and manage solutions that streamline your supply chain to make it lean, agile, and demand-driven. 3PL and 4PL have been commonly used terms in the industry for a long time, but it is always a good idea to revise the difference between the two.


4PL Logistics Definition


4PL logistics, also known as fourth-party logistics, offers a smart approach to managing supply chains. Unlike traditional logistics models where companies directly handle tasks or hire different providers for different jobs, a 4PL takes charge of everything from start to finish. Acting as the central orchestrator, a 4PL integrates various elements of the supply chain, including purchasing, transportation, warehousing, and distribution, into a cohesive and efficient system.


By assuming this comprehensive role, a 4PL acts as the captain of the team, overseeing all logistics activities and ensuring they work seamlessly together. This approach allows companies to focus on their core competencies while entrusting the complexities of logistics management to a specialized partner. In essence, 4PL logistics offers a holistic solution to streamline operations, minimize costs, and optimize supply chain performance.


4pl logistics


The Difference Between 3PL and 4PL 


A 3PL, also called TPL, is a third-party logistics provider while a 4PL is a fourth-party logistics. A 3PL aids organization by offering expertise and best practices that can efficiently integrate into your existing supply chain. 3PLs focus on various logistical areas and topographical locations. 3PL is the act of contracting out activities that are connected to distribution and logistics.

Learning the difference between 4PL (Fourth Party Logistics) and 3PL (Third-Party Logistics) might be confusing as they are still highly debatable. It is also important to identify the key players as you select your 4PL. The 4PL handles the whole process while the 3PL targets a single function. A 4PL often handles the 3PL. The 3PL provider typically focuses on:

  • Cross-docking
  • Freight forwarding
  • Integrating operations
  • Inventory management
  • Package Services
  • Transportation services
  • Warehousing. 

They are arranged and customized to the client’s precise requests based on the marketplace settings and the various demands and delivery requirement options for their materials or products. There are plenty of 3PLs present in today’s marketplace offering various models that perform individual tasks. For instance, some 3PLs may only work for certain industries, unlike 4PL. 

For 4PL, you get a larger footprint all over the industry. This makes it feasible for businesses to service customers in isolated areas at a much lower rate than 3PL instead of doing it traditionally. The functions offered by a 4PL business for handling logistics include:

  • Distribution
  • Supply Chain Optimisation and Value Engineering
  • Process
  • Career Management and Procurement
  • Business Intelligence & Technology Solution
  • Storage
  • Supply Chain Control Tower Operations.
  • People


Read more on Logistics Service Providers (LSP): 3PL vs 4PL vs 5PL on our website SCMDOJO!


Why Customers Need to Learn and Understand Consideration to Select 4PL 


A 4PL provider handles the complete logistics process of any business. It could be the whole process or a part commercial that is vital to have as part of the major business. A good instance here would be a car importer. The foremost function here is to import cars however, some cars would require certain spare parts in place for it to remain unique. As a 4PL company, everything relating to handling the complete logistic operations for your business would be fully handled.


15 Considerations for Selecting 4PL 


The following 15 considerations for selecting 4PL are the next step after having your data prepared to know exactly what to search for in any contract. 15 may sound big, but handling the management of a whole business with divisions like transport services, which can amount to 50% of your supply chain outlays, and somewhere from 5 to 10% of your proceeds, to some extent requires full focus and not taken lightly.


1. Consider Attaining Outside Assistance.


You know your logistics operations better than anybody else, but you may not fully comprehend what the use of 4PL can do to your whole operation and income too. Obtaining assistance from outside like picking an excellent 4PL process would make your whole process easier, make use of the necessary workforce, and quality time assurance. 

TIP: Seeking the services of some knowledgeable Fourth–Party Logistics with proven experience can broaden your organizational scope, operations, and services. 


2. Outline A Clear Path for Growth with Suitable 4PLs.


Amongst the biggest frustrations stated by professionals who tried to assess fourth-party logistics providers is that most times no well-defined goal is outlined. No one is clear as to what outcomes are expected and in what order. Nevertheless, if you recognize your desires through some handy checklist or collecting data, and you know what to seek in a contract, you are off to an excellent start.


3. A Maximum of Three 4PLs Should Be Considered 


With or without outside support, you should carry out forward-thinking research on possible 4PLs providers that match your needs and offer a comprehensive assessment of only those demands that matter to you and your business. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you can adjust the whole process or explore other options. 

TIP: Evaluating more than three potential 4PLs meticulously will prove challenging. So, keep it simple with three (and we hope Nunner Logistics is one of them!).


4. Avoid An RFP.


An RFP restricts you to mostly functional costs. A respectable 4PL relationship should yield in more quantifiable outcome that is significantly better than any RFP can detect. It is also vital that you select a 4PL that provides the strongest quantitative value to your business.


5. Establish an Inner 4PL Assessment Team.


This assessment team must consist of representatives from the finance, information technology, purchasing, sales/marketing, and supply chain/logistics departments. Taking this step would make sure the whole corporate process buys into your idea and individual performance meets your ultimate decision. It also validates the individual impact each section has on the bigger picture and offers insight needed to improve your value characterized in the final agreement.


4pl logistics


6. Implement an Enforceable and Shared Non-Disclosure Arrangement.


Implement this agreement before you start any formal meetings with possible 4PL logistics provider contenders. You can always ask your legal team for assistance on related matters. Executing this agreement before initiating the development of any valued plan keeps your business safe.


7. Financial Stability.


Having your 4PL unpredictably collapse could turn out to be one of the most upsetting trials your business may face. Finding a partner that has recognized financial stability will in any case keep your operations from coming to a total halt while you make an effort to recuperate from any form of mismanagement.


8. Payment History.


While assessing potential 4PL logistics providers, you should enquire about the list of partners and also their history. You should check how consistently they make payments. Has any form of disagreement or lack of trust been recorded against them before? How potential 4PL providers handle older partners will provide a good indication of how your business will be handled. You can also take time to talk to older partners of such providers rather than their hand-picked reference list. This would give you a clearer view of what you are getting into.


9. Proven Track Record.


Going past the financial and payment history of a possible 4PL provider, you also need to check their overall track record. Are they recognized as a state-of-the-art brand? Do they have a long-standing customer base? As a service-focused business, the reputation of a potential 4PL provider says a lot about the effectiveness and dependability that you can expect.


10. Exceptional Industrial References.


The references from possible 4PL logistics providers should not be just okay, they should be flattering. For a 4PL provider to be worth your time, older customers should not have any hesitation to speak more about their flexibility, reliability, and security. They should also rave about the positive outcomes they have gotten. In addition, references should be able to tell you about the character and values of a 4PL provider. 

TIP: Whether products or service-focused, 4PL logistics providers should be able to deliver an effective overall business process with a higher value proposition.


11. Improved Sales Impact Through Their Process.


Every business wants to make a profit. When assessing the true numerical value plan of possible 4PL providers, ensure you take note of their impact on sales. Every so often, getting the lowest prices as determined from normal RFP can cause some customer service issues, resulting in a harmful impact on sales.


12. Insist on Consistent Meetings with Senior Representatives.


Any arrangement must necessitate that senior representatives from the 4PL provider take part in trimestral meetings, at least, with heads of each departmental crew including logistics. Treating 4PL as an essential piece of management, instead of a salesperson, arouses a degree of interest and accountability in attaining overall business goals.


13. Scalability.


Most importantly, can the 4PL logistics provider proficiently scale operations to fit changing demands? The use of scalability directly impacts how well-organized your supply chain can be. As you continuously strive to grow your business, the fact remains you will always experience ups and downs. Demand might fall for various reasons, you need a 4PL that can quickly scale down the overall process from within.


14. Open to the Newest Trends.


On the other hand, you also need a 4PL logistics provider that can seamlessly solve unexpected spikes in demand deprived of skipping any beat. Pains of Growth happen to anyone in a successful business, but if you find a 4PL that has already gone through such events with another establishment, you will spare yourself the burden of such issues. Settle for a 4PL that has managed both larger and smaller clients when compared to your organization and is open to learning from the newest trends. 

TIP: They should be open to making small adjustments to the process like combining or increasing deliveries, as your demands move in one direction.


15. Clearly Defined Timetable.


Have a defined timetable for reviewing activities and tasks of the 4PL, and document the duties you wish to retain. The new rapport should not be introduced until you have this in place. As the new-fangled 4PL bond ramps up, regular communication becomes key. Failure to communicate regularly may lead to unending problems with your selected provider.




How have you estimated 4PLs as you lean towards creating a new connection? The idea of a 4PL provider is a service that gathers capabilities, resources, and technological advancement to completely run your business, besides the logistics part. Knowing the potential value of a 4PL integrated early into the process is key to saving you more and delivering greater service. 

Here at Nunner Logistics, we aim to be your best 4PL Partner, and remember, the body Goes Further!!


About the Author – Dr Muddassir Ahmed

Dr Muddassir Ahmed is the Founder & CEO of SCMDOJO. He is a global speakervlogger, and supply chain industry expert with 17 years of experience in the Manufacturing Industry in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and South East Asia in various Supply Chain leadership roles.  Dr. Muddassir has received a PhD in Management Science from Lancaster University Management School. Muddassir is a Six Sigma black belt and founded the leading supply chain platform SCMDOJO to enable supply chain professionals and teams to thrive by providing best-in-class knowledge content, tools, and access to experts.

You can follow him on LinkedInFacebookTwitter or Instagram.