Third-Party Logistics Providers in the Digital Age: Towards a New Competitive Arena?

Item Type Journal paper

This paper looks at the impact of digitalization on third-party logistics (3PL) business models. An eclectic framework for the analysis of digital disruptions in service industries is elaborated by linking Porter’s five forces to insights from research on digitalization and innovation. Applying this framework to the business field of 3PL reveals that logistics service providers face significant digital hardship from new technologies such as autonomous vehicles and 3D printing as well as from platform-based business models and the sharing economy. We see the following changes in the competitive arena: First, 3PLs focusing on standard services may lose significant market share in the near future. Second, management-related 3PL activities seem to be increasingly offered by new external competitors, which may downgrade 3PLs to simple forwarders. Third, digitalization enables the forward or backward integration of 3PL customers and suppliers when they establish their own services. In addition to its threats, the opportunities of digitalization for 3PLs are discussed. These include the customization of standardized logistics services, the provision of cloud logistics services, platform-based asset and logistics infrastructure sharing, the “physical internet” as a future transportation system and the adoption and integration of 3D printing into existing 3PL business models.

Authors Hofmann, Erik & Osterwalder, Florin
Journal or Publication Title Logistics
Language English
Subjects business studies
information management
Institute/School ISCM - Institute of Supply Chain Management
University of St.Gallen
HSG Classification contribution to scientific community
HSG Profile Area SoM - Business Innovation
Refereed Yes
Date 4 November 2017
Publisher MDPI AG
Place of Publication Basel
Volume 1
Number 2
Page Range 1-28
Number of Pages 28
ISSN-Digital 2305-6290
Publisher DOI 10.3390/logistics1020009
Official URL
Depositing User Prof. Dr. Erik Hofmann
Date Deposited 06 Nov 2017 14:52
Last Modified 22 Nov 2017 08:02


Hofmann, Osterwalder (2017) - 3PLs in the digital age - Towards a new competitive arena.pdf

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Hofmann, Erik & Osterwalder, Florin (2017) Third-Party Logistics Providers in the Digital Age: Towards a New Competitive Arena? Logistics, 1 (2). 1-28.

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