• Challenges Faced by Small and Medium-Sized 3PL Service Providers
  • Large Companies: Capacity to Invest in 3PL Solutions
  • Comparison of Existing CRM Software in the Market
  • Impacts of Using Mismatched CRMs for 3PL Solutions
  • Questions to Ask When Choosing a CRM Software for 3PL Solutions
  • Conclusion: Bridging the Gap Between Existing CRM Offerings and the Needs of 3PL Solutions Providers



    In today's business world, CRM systems work wonders by organizing customer data, tracking sales, and managing communication across various platforms. But amid this progress, a big question arises: why aren't CRM companies meeting the needs of 3PL solutions providers?

    The lack of the right software builds a gap for 3PL solution providers, thus hampering the growth of the industry. Therefore, there is an evident need for tailored 3PL solutions that address the distinct nature of the logistics industry.

    3pl expert looking for a CRM software

    Challenges Faced by Small and Medium-Sized 3PL Service Providers

    For small and medium-sized 3PLs, the quest for suitable CRM systems poses significant hurdles. While numerous CRMs cater to logistics needs, they often fall short in critical areas:

    • Scalability As these companies grow, they hit a wall with CRMs that cannot keep up. These systems might struggle to handle the growing data load or adapt to the changing dynamics of a budding 3PL solutions provider.
    • Customization Off-the-shelf CRMs fail to align perfectly with the unique workflows and specialized services of 3PLs.
    • Integration Generic CRMs don’t easily integrate with logistics applications, such as LOADPlus, BlueGrace, and PC*MILER.
    • Cost The price of many CRMs poses financial constraints for smaller players. Reducing the cost is primarily the priority of small and medium-sized 3PLs.
    • End-to-End Visibility Lack of full visibility leads to increased costs. Small 3PLs need solutions offering comprehensive insights on truckload rates, market conditions, email exchanges, mileage information, accurate routes, and ultimately, shipments secured.

    The logistics industry has unique needs that regular CRMs cannot handle well. This gap between what logistics needs and what typical CRMs offer leaves the industry underserved.

    Read more here: 7 Freight Broker Challenges in Sales and Their Solutions


      Small/Medium-Sized vs. Large Companies: Capacity to Invest in 3PL Solutions

      The big difference is their capacity to invest in a highly specialized CRM software solution.

      Large companies can afford either the customization of existing software or the development of solutions tailored precisely to their needs. This gives them a competitive edge by streamlining operations, enhancing efficiency, and offering advanced functionalities that cater to their specific workflows.

      However, smaller and mid-sized companies face a different scenario. Their budgets may not accommodate the high costs of building a 3PL software from scratch. Off-the-shelf solutions may lack specific logistics features to meet their unique requirements, leaving them disadvantaged compared to larger 3PL companies.

      This disparity creates a barrier to entry for smaller players, limiting their ability to compete effectively. They might struggle with outdated or inadequate software that doesn't fully align with their operational demands. As a result, they are left behind in terms of efficiency, data analysis, and customer service, impacting their overall competitiveness in the market.

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      Comparison of Existing CRM Software in the Market

      In the logistics industry, precision and adaptability matter most. The existing CRM options are not a perfect match for the industry's needs. Delving deeper into the specifics, the popular CRM solutions present a mixed bag of strengths and limitations:


      • Salesforce is an expert on product management and workflow automation
      • However, limited email integration into the CRM software promotes manual data entry.
      • This consumes time and diminishes overall productivity for 3PL teams handling numerous communications daily.

      HubSpot CRM

      • This CRM is acknowledged for its robust capabilities in customer communication and effective lead management.
      • However, its data management falls short for 3PL companies.
      • The logistics industry demands specific features, such as displaying real-time pricing for truckload rates, shipment counts, truck routing, and accurate mileage information.

      Zoho CRM

      • Zoho CRM is known for its clean interface and intuitive design
      • Even so, they fall short in comprehensive data migration features.


      • Pipedrive is renowned for its user-friendly interface.
      • However, it doesn't meet the logistics industry's needs due to its limitations on customer service, data importing process, and presenting logistics data.
      • In order to communicate with your clients, you also need to purchase another module from Pipedrive.
      • Meanwhile, if you have loads of data, Pipedrive may not be able to import it right away in their CRM.

      These limitations across the board highlight the gaps between existing CRM offerings and the specific requirements of the logistics industry, especially for small and medium-sized 3PL companies; thus leaving 3PL solutions underserved by the CRM industry.

      Learn more about the best CRMs for freight brokers here.

      Impacts of Using Mismatched CRMs for 3PL Solutions

      A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that doesn't precisely match the unique needs of a 3PL provider brings uncertainty to various operational aspects.

      Below are three possible reasons why 3PL companies fail to choose the right CRM for their business:

      • Inadequate assessment of how a CRM can address specific 3PL requirements
      • Prioritizing price over crucial functionalities necessary for effective logistics management
      • Insufficient product research in the market

      As a result, these four issues arise from using the wrong CRM system as a 3PL service provider:

      • Missed Opportunities A CRM not customized for 3PL operations disrupts workflows and coordination such that the call process needs to be done manually, and the quoting process takes longer. This scenario leads to decreasing chances of winning more lanes.
      • Inaccurate Decision-Making Mismatched CRMs can fail to provide real-time data required in logistics, such as truckload rates, LTL pricing information, truck-compatible mileage information, and shipment data. This can lead to ineffective quotes, lost profits, and less revenue.
      • Inefficient Operations It is ineffective to use a CRM that cannot provide real-time information and cannot integrate with the existing logistics system. This results in inefficient operations caused by delays and errors.
      • Inability to Scale A CRM unsuited to the evolving needs of a 3PL provider restrains adaptability and scalability. As your 3PL business grows, a mismatched CRM will struggle to accommodate the changes you require since you are using the generic features of a CRM.

      If you want to learn more about CRM for logistics, read more here.

      Questions to Ask When Choosing a CRM Software for 3PL Solutions

      We have listed down essential questions tailored to the logistics industry. These will guide you in selecting the perfect software for your logistics needs.

      • Can the CRM handle all transportation modes and logistics services used in the industry?
      • Does the CRM create logistic quotes for multiple transport modes and services, such as FTL, LTL, FCL, LCL, ocean, air, and warehousing?
      • Does the CRM provide access to market conditions and historical data for quicker quotations?
      • Can the CRM show how the company is performing in the logistics industry, including comparisons over time and sales?
      • Is the CRM dashboard adaptable for different levels of the organization, such that it fits the needs of small to large 3PL companies?
      • Does the CRM show data on shipment counts, awarded lanes, shipment frequency, last shipments made, last quote provided, and other relevant logistics data?
      • Can the CRM help facilitate a consistent sales process such as recurring calls, emails, and meetings, and assign them to the right sales teams?
      • Does the CRM automatically capture and sort email exchanges in the right places within the system?
      • Can the CRM integrate with other necessary logistics applications for smooth data flow and efficient operations?

      Use these questions as a comprehensive set of criteria to assess and align your 3PL software selection with the unique needs and growth trajectory of your logistics business.

      3PL experts

      Conclusion: Bridging the Gap Between Existing CRM Offerings and the Needs of 3PL Solutions Providers

      While software solutions are available for 3PL companies in the market, they often need more specific requirements of the fast-paced logistics industry. Most CRMs are only accessible to companies with financial capability, leaving behind small and medium-sized companies. To address this gap in the market, we have developed SCRM (Supply Chain Relationship Management), a CRM optimized specifically for 3PL solution providers of all sizes.

      essential features of logistics CRM

      If you are looking for a CRM solution that will help you grow your business, you should look for these features:

      A CRM with features specifically developed for the logistics industry will allow you to boost your sales and operational efficiency, unlike any other CRM in the market.

      If you are a 3PL solutions provider seeking guidance on selecting the optimal logistics CRM, we would love to help you choose the best CRM solution.


      Hector Sunol Information Technology Expert

      Hector is IFS’s co-founder and CEO, with over 21 years of experience leading and managing companies and IT operations for large and mid-size businesses. Hector is also the co-founder and CEO of Cyzerg, a technology company specializing in innovating software solutions for warehouses and DCs. Before IFS and Cyzerg, Hector was senior director of technical operations, overseeing an e-commerce website with more than one million monthly transactions.