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Types of logistic operators: 1PL,2PL,3PL,4PL

logistics operators

The role of the logistics operator has taken on considerable importance in recent years. This is due to the exponential growth of e-commerce and a supply chain that is becoming increasingly complex to manage. For these and other reasons, companies often decide to outsource their logistics management. In this article, we will first explain what a logistics operator is, what it does and discover the different types that exist. 

What is a logistics operator?

Let’s start with a definition: logistics operators are companies that provide logistics services to a third party, enabling other companies to outsource their logistics. They therefore stand between suppliers and end customers.


The infrastructure of logistics operators changes according to the type of service offered or according to the size of the company. An operator working on a national level has different characteristics from those of operators integrated in a supply chain spread over several countries.

Types of logistics operators

Logistics operators can be classified according to their area of specialization (always related to the supply chain). There are five types that can be categorized under the term Party Logistics (abbreviated as PL):


  • 1PL (First Party Logistics): This is the first level of outsourcing. 1PL operators are only responsible for the transportation and distribution of the contracting company’s products.
  • 2PL (Second Party Logistics): The logistics operator handles both the transportation and warehousing of the products. These companies offer standard warehousing and transportation services, while the contracting company is responsible for fleet organization and material flow management. They are usually national logistics operators.
  • 3PL (Second Party Logistics): in addition to infrastructure, they organize and manage warehousing and transportation operations. 3PL operators offer tailor-made integrated services and, therefore, work under long-term agreements.
  • 4PL (Fourth Party Logistics): act as highly specialized logistics consultants and work closely with the contractor.
  • 5PL (Fifth Party Logistics): they offer integrated supply chain management and specialize in the optimization of complex operations, such as the management of e-commerce-related goods flows.

Logistics operators are often the first to be confronted with changes in the industry. For this reason, they must continually adapt to the trends set by the market. For this reason, using their services is a valid strategy to improve logistics management and achieve greater efficiency in the storage and transport of goods.

If you are interested in streamlining these aspects of your business, do not hesitate to contact us at FR Logistics. In our company we proactively take care of the relationship with employees, customers and suppliers so that, together, we can achieve the common objectives we pursue in a methodical and constant way.


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