The Internet has been a key to optimizing the supply chain, enabling real-time data to be shared between supply chain partners, which usually connect together as an e-business network. Nowadays the focus is on building-in value added products/services, thereby enabling the network to differentiate itself from its competitors in a more sustainable manner. In this context, outsourcing has provided significant cost reductions for businesses, with the use of third party logistics providers (3PLs). This is today only a ‘qualifying criterion’ for most businesses, and no longer a competitive advantage. The creation of a fourth party logistics provider (4PL) aims at moving the client to a more competitive position, by analysing relevant business risk, and monitoring relevant KPI’s, and applying these within a 4PL providers efficient alliance network.
Hamilton, John R.; Hughes, Kate; and Selen, Willem, "E-Business Enabled Networks and Fourth Party Logistics (4PL) Providers: An Overview" (2003). ICEB 2003 Proceedings. 133.