What is 3PL?

3PL — short for third-party logistics — is the all-in-one solution for outsourcing all or part of your warehousing, transportation, and fulfillment services to a professional supply chain service provider.

It is as close as you can come to having your own warehouse, secondary packaging operations, and shipping fleet without the headaches of daily operations or the cost of ownership. By letting experienced logistics specialists handle these critical responsibilities, you can focus on expanding your markets, products, and the quality of your offerings.

Typical 3PL services include a combination of the following:

  • Inventory and order management
  • Warehousing
  • Picking and packing (fulfillment)
  • Co-packaging
  • Shipping (parcel, LTL pool consolidation, and TL)
  • International shipping

A 3PL partner can be the critical link between production and points of sale. Working with an experienced 3PL provider brings significant benefits, such as:

  • Improved scalability: As your company grows, you can leverage the resources of your 3PL partner to scale accordingly.
  • Flexibility: A 3PL provider can efficiently meet the fluctuations in demand as your sales naturally ebb and flow due to seasonality or other factors.
  • Low capital investment: Save the costly capital expenses of investing in warehouse space, technology, and staff.
  • Free up resources: Without the need to tie up internal resources in logistics, your company can focus on developing your core competencies.
  • Access to expertise: Benefit from a 3PLs knowledge and experience to secure lower shipping costs, reduced cycle time, handle shipping documentation and compliance, and open access into new regions and markets.

Any business can utilize the inherent advantages of 3PLs for greater efficiency and growth, from a small company that has outgrown its initial startup to a multi-national corporation looking for more capacity and flexibility in its supply chain.

Few industries have not partnered with 3PLs to improve their overall performance, increase their capacity, or reduce their costs. Whether through eCommerce or more traditional distribution models, industries as diverse as food and beverage manufacturers, pharmaceuticals, automotive, and consumer packaged goods (CPG)have expanded their businesses via 3PLs.

The key to a successful 3PL integration is to find a provider who will take the time to ask the right questions, understand how your industry and business work, and not attempt to squeeze you into a one-size-fits-all solution.

3PL partnerships

Once you decide to partner with a new 3PL business, there are a couple of points to keep in mind for a successful transition:

1. Communication

Make sure you share and coordinate your existing procedures and processes with your 3PL partner so they can adapt to them. Process improvement is essential but does not happen without understanding the context around the customer’s business processes.

2. Transitions must be Transparent

During the move to your new 3PL partner, recognize your customers won’t be sympathetic to a drop in service quality during the transition. Plan accordingly; ensure shipping, receiving, and communication continues to meet or exceed customer expectations.

For a more comprehensive guide on how to transition to a 3PL model, read our blog here.

Building a 3PL Partnership with Atlanta Bonded Warehouse

Atlanta Bonded Warehouse specializes in third-party logistics, proudly serving local, national, and international businesses both large and small. We possess over 70 years of experience operating warehouses, freight consolidation, cross-docking, and co-packaging across the Southeast and Southwest. We are known for our unparalleled service, industry-specific know-how, well-trained staff, and the most advanced warehouse management systems to propel your business forward.

Our primary service sectors include food and beverage manufacturers, food ingredients, industrial and food grade packaging, pharmaceuticals, confectionery, and consumer packaged goods (CPG).

Our co-packaging service, developed over years of continuous investment in equipment, staffing, and technology, offers today’s multi-channel, instant fulfillment market the flexibility and scalability it demands.

Together with our in-house LTL carrier, Colonial Cartage, we facilitate refrigerated and ambient LTL transportation across 26 states using our fleet of over 260 power units and trailers. All are food-grade and equipped with real-time tracking. We make weekly deliveries to every retailer and distributor in our 26 state service areas where we have orders.

Why Atlanta Bonded Warehouse?

What makes Atlanta Bonded Warehouse (ABW) a better choice for your 3PL solutions?


ABW has been delivering integrated warehousing services for over seven decades. Our focus is on continuously upgrading and refining our processes, equipment, and skills. We are tried and tested and have worked with companies of different sizes across many industries. We believe in learning from our experiences and focusing on servicing and anticipating your company’s needs.


With 15 facilities offering both shared and dedicated warehousing and our fleet of new model equipment, we offer unrivaled capacity for your 3PL needs. Regardless of your current or future requirements, rest assured that we have the coverage and the scope to meet them and fuel your continued growth.


We understand there are many 3PL providers from which to choose. While it is common to check a list of similar services, what is uncommon is a proven track record of satisfied customers that stretches back decades, who continue to partner with us today. We accomplished this by focusing on integrity, work ethic, and above all, accountability.

We are honored to be trusted by so many businesses and proud of the following awards that recognize our dedicated work as a team:

  • Hershey DC Operator of the Year: six consecutive years
  • Wrigley Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Named a Top 100 3PL and Cold Storage Provider by Food Logistics Magazine: 7 consecutive years
  • Named a Top 100 3PL by Inbound Logistics Magazine: 8 consecutive years
  • Named Barilla’s Warehouse Partner of the Year for 2015, 2016 and 2017
  • CaseStack’s Warehouse of the Year for 2017 and 2018

For a 3PL service with the expertise and infrastructure to help you maintain or gain a competitive edge, make the switch to Atlanta Bonded Warehouse.

Frequently Asked Questions

How large is Atlanta Bonded Warehouse’s transportation service area?

We cover 26 states throughout the Southeast, Southwest, Midwest, Upper Midwest, and the Great Plains.

What is the difference between LTL and TL shipping?

LTL refers to orders of less-than-truckload quantity co-mingled with other smaller shipments headed for the same destination, while truckload (TL) shipping is for high-volume products requiring the use of an entire vehicle.

How does freight consolidation work?

Freight consolidation commingles multiple LTL shipments from various shippers into a single truckload to create one large shipment headed for the same location. The shipper of each LTL shipment benefits from lower costs by paying bulk rates, faster transit times (as there is no need for smaller retailers to wait for a full truck of products before shipping), and reduced risks of damaged products.

What is cross-docking?

Cross-docking is the transfer of products from a truck or rail car to one or more outbound vehicles across a staging area within a short amount of time — eliminating the additional handling and storage required in a standard warehousing process. This strategy helps reduce costs and increase efficiencies.

What is co-packaging?

Co-packaging, short for “contract packaging,” is a service where a third-party company (i.e., the co-packager) provides secondary packaging and labeling services for your products before shipping. It is not to be confused with “co-manufacturing,” where a third party blends, cooks, bakes, forms, or manufactures products they do not own or market.

What does a warehouse management system do?

Warehouse management system (WMS) software enables real-time visibility into a company’s inventory, fulfillment, and shipping operations. It offers superior tracking, planning, integration, and execution of different warehouse processes.

How large is your LTL and TL fleet?

Our asset-based carier, Colonial Cartage,has more than 200 refrigerated trucks and dry trailers. All equipment is food-grade and uses ELDs for drivers’ logs and GPS systems for tracking.