3PL KPIs: Why They Matter and How to Set Them

keeping track of performance should be a business's "north star"

  • Written by Paola Olivera
  • Published on December 12, 2023
  • Time to read 9 minutes


Keeping track of your performance in any industry is like the North Star guiding your ship. And that’s where Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) come into play. In this blog, we’ll teach you the basics of 3PL KPIs, why they’re crucial, how to set them, measure their performance, and even toss in some examples to keep things crystal clear.

What is a 3PL KPI?

Let’s start with the basics: What is a 3PL KPI? KPI stands for Key Performance Indicator, a compass for your business. It’s a metric, a number that tells you how well you’re doing in various aspects of your logistics game. Regarding 3PL (Third-Party Logistics), these KPIs focus on evaluating how efficiently a company manages its logistics and supply chain operations, often on behalf of other businesses.

Why Setting 3PL KPIs is Crucial

You might wonder, “Why should I even bother setting these KPI things in the first place?” Well, here’s the scoop: 

1. Alignment with Goals: KPIs help keep your business on track by aligning your efforts with your objectives. They’re like signposts on your journey, showing you the path to your goals.

2. Measurement of Progress: You can measure your progress with 3PL KPIs. Are you moving in the right direction? Are you getting closer to your targets? KPIs give you a clear yes or no.

3. Accountability: KPIs assign responsibility. They say, “Hey, you’re in charge of this, so make sure it gets done!” This helps motivate your team to take ownership of their tasks.

4. Data-Driven Decisions: KPIs are all about numbers, and numbers don’t lie. They help you make informed decisions based on actual data, not just gut feelings.

5. Spotting Trouble Early: You can spot issues early by regularly checking your KPIs. It’s like a car’s dashboard warning you when something’s wrong, allowing you to fix it before it becomes a significant problem.

6. Comparisons and Benchmarking: KPIs let you compare your performance to industry benchmarks or past performance. This helps you gauge how well you’re doing compared to others.

How to Set 3PL KPIs

Setting up 3PL KPIs isn’t rocket science; it’s more like crafting a roadmap. Here’s how you can do it:

1. Define Clear Objectives: Know what you want to achieve. Are you aiming for faster deliveries, lower costs, or happier customers? Your objectives will guide your KPI selection.

2. Talk to Your Clients: Your clients know what they expect from you. So, have a chat with them and understand their specific requirements. This will help you tailor your KPIs to their needs.

3. Research Industry Standards: Look into industry best practices and standards. They can give you a head start in choosing the right KPIs for your business.

4. Map Your Processes: Document your logistics and supply chain processes. This will help you identify the areas where KPIs can make the most impact.

5. Choose Relevant KPIs: Not all KPIs are created equal. Select the ones that align with your goals, client expectations, and operational priorities.

6. Set Targets: KPIs need targets or benchmarks to measure against. Define clear, achievable targets for each KPI.

7. Collect and Analyze Data: Implement data collection and analysis systems. This might involve using software, sensors, or good old-fashioned spreadsheets.

8. Regular Monitoring and Review: Keep an eye on your KPIs. Regularly review them to track your progress and assess whether you’re meeting your targets.

9. Communication is Key: Share your KPI information with your team and clients. It’s all about transparency and collaboration.

10. Periodic Reevaluation: As your business evolves, so should your KPIs. Regularly review and adapt them to keep them aligned with your objectives.

How to Measure KPI Performance

So, you’ve set your 3PL KPIs. Now, let’s talk about how to measure their performance. It’s like checking your progress on a road trip:

1. Data Collection: Collect data for each KPI using your chosen methods, whether it’s through software, surveys, or manual input.

2. Set a Collection Frequency: Determine how often you collect data. Some KPIs require daily tracking, while others can be measured monthly or quarterly.

3. Aggregate Data: Crunch those numbers and calculate your KPIs. This might involve some mathematical magic to get meaningful metrics.

4. Compare to Targets: Measure your performance against your established targets. Are you hitting the bullseye or missing the mark?

5. Visualize the Data: Make your data easy to understand with charts, graphs, or dashboards. Visualization helps you see trends and patterns.

6. Analyze Trends: Dive into the data history. Are there any trends or patterns emerging? Understanding these can inform your decisions.

7. Identify Variances: Spot the differences between actual performance and your targets. Figure out why these variances exist, whether they’re good or bad.

8. Take Action: Based on your analysis, take action. If you’re falling short, implement corrective measures. If you’re exceeding targets, find out how to replicate that success.

9. Continuous Monitoring: KPIs are a forever thing. Keep collecting data, track your progress, and adapt your strategies.

10. Communication is Still Key: Share your KPI results regularly with your team and clients. It keeps everyone in the loop and accountable.

Examples of 3PL KPIs

Now, let’s look at some real-world examples of 3PL KPIs. These are the numbers that can tell you how well you’re doing in the logistics game:

1. On-Time Delivery (OTD): Are you consistently delivering orders on time?

2. Order Accuracy: What percentage of orders are shipped without errors?

3. Inventory Turnover Rate: How fast is your inventory moving off the shelves?

4. Cost per Order: What’s the average cost of processing and fulfilling an order?

5. Fill Rate: Are you consistently meeting customer demand?

6. Warehouse Utilization Rate: Are you maximizing your warehouse space?

7. Transportation Cost as a Percentage of Revenue: How much of your earnings go into transportation?

8. Carrier Performance Metrics: Are your carriers reliable and on time?

9. Return Rate: How many products or orders are coming back?

10. Lead Time: How quickly are you processing and delivering orders?

Remember, these KPIs are like your business’s vital signs. Keep an eye on them, and you’ll keep your logistics and supply chain running smoothly.


In the world of 3PL, KPIs are your secret weapon for success. They guide you, measure your progress, and help you make data-driven decisions. 

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