The cash flow advantages of 3PLS as supply chain orchestrators
With an increasingly open global economy and advanced technologies, some third-party logistics providers (3PLs), such as Eternal Asia, have emerged as supply chain orchestrators, linking buyers with manufacturers worldwide. In addition to their traditional transportation services, these orchestrators provide procurement and financial assistance to buyers in the supply network, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries. Oftentimes, the 3PLs can obtain payment delay arrangements from the financially stronger manufacturers, which in turn can be partially extended to the SME buyers, alleviating their high costs of capital. To illustrate the efficiency improvements of the aforementioned practice, we use a model to explicitly capture the cash-flow dynamics in a supply chain consisting of a manufacturer, a buyer, and a 3PL firm and explore the conditions under which this innovation benefits all parties in the supply chain so that the business model is sustainable. We characterize these conditions and show that the supply chain profit can be higher under leadership by the 3PL than by the manufacturer. The intermediary role of the 3PL is crucial, in that its benefit may vanish if the manufacturer chooses to directly grant payment delay to the buyers. We demonstrate that the benefit is more likely to occur with more buyers. We further identify the unique Nash bargaining solution for the transportation time and the payment delay grace period.
Chen, X; Cai, G; Song, JS
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