Five dominant 3PL trends in Asia today

Five dominant 3PL trends in Asia today

By Nick Bartlett on July 17, 2021
For international businesses sourcing production in Asia, a knowledgeable and trusted 3PL partner in the region is essential to your success.

For any international businesses sourcing production in Asia, a knowledgeable and trusting 3PL partner in the region is essential to your success.

Logistics throughout Asia requires dealing with a head-splitting patchwork of trade agreements, shifting logistical hubs, and shipping routes of varying quality and usability, not to mention ever-changing policies for everything from transportation regulations to company ownership.

Find Out About CBIP’s Tailor-made Logistics Solutions For Companies in Asia & Beyond

Any logistics company involved in this quickly-evolving region needs to have local teams on the ground, often across multiple locations. They serve as a way to keep on the pulse of shifting local regulations and to be there to quickly chase the bottom line as new companies continue to form and disappear. 

Because of the level and breadth of insider knowledge required, the logistics landscape in Asia has, until now, only been open to a handful of companies with expansive networks. Consequently, this has also frequently left clients largely in the dark as to the specifics of their operations abroad.

However, with the growth experienced across the industry, including the growing reliance on the role technology is playing, 3PL is poised to change drastically in Asia.

  1. A shift towards client-facing technology to get customers more involved in tracking and on-the-fly decisions.
  2. Better and more efficient route planning and vehicle loading due to AI-assisted technology.
  3. A growing number of options for routing and sourcing materials including airways.
  4. A move away from retailer shipping models to e-commerce models.
  5. Increased 3PL specialization and 4PL network reliance

Here’s how these trends may affect your business in Asia today:


Technology, specifically artificial intelligence and improved data gathering, is making logistics more efficient, transparent, and cost-effective at every link of the chain. These upgrades are shifting the role of 3PLs into data centers necessary for coordinating large networks of warehouses and shipping providers.


Throughout much of southeast Asia, optimizing trucking routes is a constant hassle. There are few major highways designed for high-volume cargo throughput and, usually, the few that do are plagued by congestion, toll roads, and border stops. This means costs are higher overall and headaches abound.

Using increasingly-accurate GPS route planning technology, 3PLs today in Asia can enlist the help of AI to most accurately optimize routes based on speed, cost, and driver rest time. They can also adapt quickly to obstacles posed by new construction as well as new routes opened or closed.

RELATED: 5 Must Dos When Considering a 3PL Provider



Today, AI is also helping logistics companies to use every spare centimeter of their shipping options.

Until now, under-utilized shipping space in trucks has been a scourge to the industry. According to some sources, trucks will frequently embark on long-distance trips utilizing only 50-60% of their cargo capacity due to inefficient packing and lack of communication between fulfillment centers.

Better AI and more comprehensive databases can help 3PLs know exactly how to pack items to reach an optimal carrying capacity as well as to better keep track of extra space across clients.


Picture this: you have a shipment scheduled to leave Shenzhen today and arrive in Laem Chabang in the next three days. At the last minute, however, the Shenzhen port suddenly closes due to a flash flood. You now must route your goods by land to Dongguan in one day or else risk delaying orders by over a month. 

While a good 3PL could help you find a reputable trucking service on short notice, they may only know one or two service providers who charge a hefty rush fee causing you to lose your profit margin on this round of goods.

But with the expansion of online databases, logistical options are becoming increasingly transparent for both 3PLs and their clients. You as a client can have a greater role in snap decision processes that could save you millions.


Today, consumers around the world—specifically in Asia—take same-day delivery for granted and logistics companies are taking notice.

Recent events like the clogging of the Suez Canal have made clear the dangers of entrusting global trade almost entirely to a couple of narrow sea routes. Now, 3PLs are racing against the clock for better alternatives.

Today, according to logistics news site MH&L, 3PL logistics companies make up 29.6% of activity in major airport submarkets — a number that’s only likely to increase as these organizations continue to buy office space near major airports.

In the future this could spur heavy growth in the aerospace industry and lead to much faster overseas delivery to landlocked regions.


Speaking of same-day delivery, it’s now easy to see that the retail store is dying. As more people obtain goods directly online and have them shipped home, it’s no longer the mall’s job to hold the goods and it’s no longer the customer’s job to take them home. This means 3PLs need to pick up the slack in planning for storage and last-step fulfillment:

Successful 3PLs increasingly must focus on sourcing fulfillment centers and warehouses within hot consumer regions. To fully take advantage of this logistics sector, these fulfillment centers need to not only accommodate a wide range of goods, but also efficiently service deliveries to the entire region. 

While this remains a novel concept in the west, logistics providers in Asia have been following this model for years. In turn, they know much more about the dos and don’ts of a model centering on dynamic storage and last-mile shipping.

This may signal increased migration of Asia-based 3PLs to the west as they can get local businesses up to speed much faster.


There is increasing evidence that 3PL is shifting towards a “barbell-shaped” industry.

On one end, many 3PLs are becoming smaller and more highly-specialized in the movement of hyper-specific types of goods. As labor in Asia becomes increasingly skilled and specialized, these 3PLs will become crucial to sourcing the best talent at the lowest prices.

On the other end, faced with an increasing need for multinational coverage, 3PLs are blowing up into large international organizations. Many of these closely resemble 4PLs with offices and influence in multiple countries and major logistics hubs.

These two types of logistics companies will likely have an increasingly symbiotic relationship, with large institutions sourcing labor to small institutions. Those in the middle may have to choose which side their services fall on or become obsolete.


As the 3PL industry shifts, large organizations trying to enter Asia may find it more beneficial to work with logistics companies that have access to more data, know-how, and facilities across the region.

4PLs with their wider global networks and bespoke warehousing and shipping options can offer a higher level of security, stability, knowledge, and accountability than 3PLs for businesses.

CBIP Logistics, we’re a 4th party logistics firm that wants to help make your existing business or transition to Asia as easy and profitable as possible. 

With a track record of successful relationships, we can take your business through every step of the logistics process in Asia with the latest technology and information available. From optimizing shipping and warehousing to supply chain consulting, we can help your business in any stage of the logistics process.

Interested? Schedule a free consultation with us today. We’d love to get you started.

About Author

Nick Bartlett

Nick Bartlett is CBIP’s director of sales and marketing. His expertise lies in marketing, supply chain management, and corporate retail experience. He honed his skills over 10+ years working across the Asia Pacific region and beyond.

Nick keeps a close eye on new markets and believes successful business operations come through value-based relationships.


Powered by the latest in logistics technology

Asia’s first carbon-neutral 4PL firm

We are an extension to your in-house logistics team

Our Service

E-Commerce Logistics

Full-Service Logistics


Subscribe Now

Get the latest insights from the CBIP team on global logistics & supply chain.

Grow your business with a partner that puts your needs first. Schedule a Call Today

Please enter a valid business email.


Every e-commerce brand or seller is a little different. So, the best way for us to provide you with a detailed quote is to fill out our online questionnaire here and from here we can walk you through the various options available to you with CBIP Logistics.

No, we do not charge the higher fee associated with long-term storage. No matter how long the goods remain in our warehouse. They are charged the same rate for inventory storage.

Yes! We can store your inventory and replenish Amazon as necessary, helping you adhere to Amazon’s strict rules and regulations for packaging, labeling and shipping.

We charge for storage by either cubic meter, sqft or per pallet / racking space per week. It depends on the request from the customer as one-size doesn’t fit all. It would be better if you schedule a call with us

We provide a variety of services in the logistics landscape which includes Ocean Freight, Airfreight, Domestic Delivery, Warehouse & Distribution and Customs Clearance & Brokerage.

We offer several types of warehouses that are tailored to your requirements and vary among countries, e.g. Bonded Warehouse, General Warehouse, Consolidated Warehouse and Distribution Center.

Yes, you can track it from our platform by using the “Log In” function and access to “B2B” which is dedicated to track any shipment you have with us. This is a real-time platform which integrates with some major carriers so from here you can get the visibility of vessels on the globe map.

  • Origin Management: digital PO management and connected suppliers supported by agnostic 3PL vendor management capabilities.

  • Shipment Tracker: real time tracking also vessel tracking to let you know where the goods are.

  • Destination Management: platform manage the delivery to Distribution Centre and update frequently on platform.

  • Paperless Handling: we centralize the document hub on the platform for shipment-by-shipment. From here you can get the full documentation of a particular shipment within a click.

We offer the consulting services to enterprises who looking for either:

  • Optimizing their existing operations for cost, operation & performance effectiveness.

  • Scale their B2C or B2B business

Yes, our consulting services range from completing assessments on existing business, strategy & planning, tendering & RFP development, vendor selection and transitions & special projects.

Every business, we have a dedicated Account Manager who is the focal contact point that you can get in touch for daily operation.

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are any gases that contribute to climate change through the effect of global warming (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and more). As more of these gases are released, the atmosphere traps more heat from the sun every year. This is causing the climate to change. GHGs and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are often used interchangeably with carbon emissions when talking about the climate.

Like most websites CBIP uses cookies in order to optimize your experience and deliver a more responsive user experience. These cookies are safe and secure, and we only use this data within the CBIP Organization. Privacy Policy