Inbound Logistics | January 2022

As the pandemic continues to impact supply chains, retailers go shopping for third-party logistics providers to gain end-to-end control. By Debra Phillips

F or years, retailers have selected third-party logistics (3PL) providers with varying degrees of integration between retail operations and the functions typically outsourced—carrier or mode selection, transportation and delivery to distribution centers or retail outlets, and in recent years, home deliveries. That dynamic is changing as some major retailers choose to own a 3PL, rather than pay one to provide services. In the fourth quarter of 2021, American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) acquired Quiet Logistics, a company with eight fulfillment centers in six cities where workers and robots fulfill orders. This deal is the second step in AEO’s desire for greater control over its supply chain. In May 2021, American Eagle acquired AirTerra, a delivery company. Another major retail firm, Ashley Furniture, also chose to buy rather than build its own logistics operation when it acquired certain assets of Wilson Logistics. Since 1974, Ashley Furniture has managed a private transportation fleet, creating Ashley Delivery Services (ADS). Today, ADS operates more than 900 tractors and 2,000 trailers—almost equal to the number of assets owned by Wilson Logistics with 800 tractors and 2,000 trailers.

January 2022 • Inbound Logistics 235

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