Choosing 3PL vs In-House Logistics for eCommerce Success

Feb 13, 2024 • read
Choosing 3PL vs In-House Logistics

In the dynamic world of eCommerce, the decision between managing logistics in-house or outsourcing to a Third-Party Logistics (3PL) provider like eShipper is more than just a strategic choice; it's a pivotal decision that can significantly impact your business's efficiency and scalability. 

A recent study from Koncept Analytics revealed that the global contract logistics market is continually evolving and expected to reach US$329.7 billion by 2026. This highlights the growing importance of making a measured and correct choice between in-house solutions and a 3PL. 

This article explores the nuances of this decision, helping eCommerce store owners and employees understand when it's time to transition from in-house operations to a 3PL solution.

Understanding In-House Logistics

  • What is In-House Logistics?

In-house logistics involves managing the supply chain and logistics operations within your organization. This includes tasks like inventory management, order processing, and shipping. While this approach offers direct control over these processes, it also requires significant resources and expertise – especially as your business grows. 

Benefits of In-House Logistics

Managing logistics in-house can be beneficial, especially for smaller operations or businesses with specific, unique needs. The direct control over operations allows for a tailored approach to logistics, potentially leading to enhanced customer satisfaction.

  • Limitations of In-House Logistics

As your business grows, the limitations of in-house logistics can become apparent. These limitations often include scalability challenges, increased operational costs, and the need for more advanced technology and infrastructure. When these in-house challenges begin to impact your business’ efficiency and customer satisfaction, it may be time to make the transition

Understanding 3PL (Third-Party Logistics)

  • Defining 3PL

Third-Party Logistics (3PL) involves outsourcing your logistics operations to an external provider. This includes inventory management, warehousing, and transportation services. 3PL providers specialize in logistics and can offer more extensive networks, technology, and expertise.

  • Benefits of 3PL

The transition to 3PL can bring a multitude of benefits to eCommerce businesses. The benefits of switching to 3PL include scalability, cost savings, access to advanced technology, and the ability to focus on core business activities. A 3PL partner can adapt to fluctuating order volumes, reducing costs during slower periods and efficiently handling increased demand during peak times. 

Consider a small online retailer that experiences a 50% increase in orders during the holiday season. By partnering with a 3PL provider, they are able to scale their operations seamlessly, handling the surge without any disruption to their service quality.

3PL providers like eShipper can handle complex logistics requirements, allowing businesses to expand their reach without the burden of managing logistics in-house.

Choosing 3PL vs In-House Logistics Hero

Comparing Costs and Efficiency

  • Cost-Effectiveness

Comparing the costs of in-house logistics and 3PL is crucial. While in-house logistics may seem less expensive initially, the long-term costs of infrastructure, technology, and staffing can add up. Additionally, 3PL providers often offer more cost-effective solutions due to their scale and efficiency. For example, eShipper’s courier partnerships with major carriers allow us to offer up to 70% discounts on shipping rates.

  • Efficiency in Logistics

3PL providers typically have more efficient logistics processes, thanks to their expertise and investment in technology. This efficiency can lead to faster delivery times, better inventory management, and overall improved customer satisfaction.

For example, an overwhelmed apparel eCommerce company making the switch to a 3PL partner can easily enjoy a 30% reduction in delivery times, thanks to the provider's advanced logistics network and technology, leading to higher customer satisfaction and repeat business.

Making the Right Choice for Your Business

  • Guidance on Decision Making

Choosing between in-house management and 3PL depends on various factors, including your business size, scalability needs, and specific logistics requirements. When making this decision, it's essential to assess your current logistics capabilities and future growth plans.

  • Factors to Consider

Consider factors such as the complexity of your logistics needs, the geographical reach of your operations, and the level of control you require over your supply chain. Weighing these factors will help you determine the most suitable logistics approach for your business.

When to Seriously Consider 3PL

  • Rapid Business Growth: Your business is experiencing rapid growth, and your current in-house logistics can't keep up with the increasing order volume.
  • Global Expansion: You're expanding your market reach globally and need a logistics partner with international expertise and capabilities.
  • Complex Supply Chain Needs: Your logistics requirements are becoming more complex, involving multi-channel distribution, varied inventory types, or specialized handling.
  • Cost Inefficiencies: You're noticing escalating costs in managing logistics in-house, including warehousing, staffing, and transportation.
  • Technology Limitations: Your current logistics system lacks advanced technology for efficient inventory management, tracking, and analytics.
  • Seasonal Volume Fluctuations: Your business faces significant seasonal peaks and troughs, requiring flexible logistics solutions that can scale up or down as needed.
  • Focus on Core Business: You want to refocus resources and attention on core business activities, such as product development and marketing, rather than logistics.


The decision between in-house logistics and 3PL is a strategic one that can significantly impact the efficiency, scalability, and overall success of your eCommerce business. By carefully evaluating your business needs and understanding the benefits and limitations of each option, you can make an informed decision that best supports your business goals.

As we've seen with numerous eShipper clients, the right logistics decision can transform an eCommerce business, turning logistical challenges into opportunities for growth and customer satisfaction.

Get a free instant quote from eShipper to explore how making the 3PL transition can help your business grow (with much less in-house stress) in 2024!

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