by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Outrunning the Bear

Author: Ken Whah, President and CEO —

Innovation, transformation, collaboration. . . do it well and do it now. 

Like virtually all businesses, the ‘normal’ pre-pandemic day in the life of a temperature-controlled supply chain always included its fair share of challenges. Our leadership team focused on continuous improvements while Hanson Teammates did the heavy lifting to make sure the right product is delivered to the right door at the right time. We encouraged new ideas and improvements that drove value in the eyes of the customer. 

Then the whole world changed. 

Many believe the pandemic has pushed e-commerce five years into the future. At first, the sudden growth in online meal delivery was an obvious solution to social distancing. Now consumers, including those 55 and older, have become accustomed to the channel, citing convenience as a benefit of online shopping. Channels for foodservice and DTC frozen foods have been pried open by the pandemic and are not likely to close anytime soon, if ever. 

Consider that it wasn’t too long ago that the health of the frozen food industry was based on USDA reports for the volume of product stored 30 days or longer. Today, the frozen food industry is measured in part by Per-capita Receipt Index, the total of transactions, as measured by consumer receipts, that occurred in each online shopping channel indexed to a pre-crisis baseline.

Equally important, I believe, is that both shippers and 3PLs agree that their relationships are evolving from transactional to strategic. According to the 25th Annual 2025 Third-Party Logistics Study, published by Penn State, CSCMP, and others, the future success of 3PLs “will be the ability to understand, anticipate and respond to factors and trends that may impact customers’ supply chains in a general sense. This will require not only the ability to act quickly and appropriately but also to become core competent in being able to innovate, change, and transform. Success will require an ability to ‘outrun the bear,’ but also an ability to determine when the bear may not be the most significant threat.”

Like e-commerce, our agility and responsiveness have also been pushed into the future by the pandemic. Until someone gives us the all-clear, we are focused on helping our clients outrun the bear.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

Hanson Launches Pick, Pack, and Parcel

Hanson Logistics has recently expanded its multi-channel distribution offering by launching a new consumer ecommerce fulfillment program titled “Pick, Pack, and Parcel.” Being a leading provider of temperature controlled logistics, Hanson has recognized the growing demand for home delivery of groceries (including frozen and refrigerated foods) and is implementing a service that will help food manufacturers keep up with the market.

Pick, Pack, and Parcel gives frozen food manufacturers that extra channel to sell their products in a “right to your door” manner, which is becoming increasingly more popular by consumers.

The steps to this program are very simple. Manufacturers ship inventory by truckload to Hanson’s Logansport, Indiana warehouse (we can handle transportation for you as well) where frozen and refrigerated products are kept in top-notch condition until ordered. Then the individual orders are picked, mixed if necessary, packed in usable coolers, and handed off to a parcel carrier for delivery.

The Logansport facility (Lafayette too) is strategically located for parcel delivery to 60% of the United States between one to three days with ground service, assuring efficient coverage of the final mile.

There are very few third-party logistics (3PL) providers in the industry that are qualified to step in and be of assistance with the accuracy, safety, and transparency that is required for consumer frozen and refrigerated food fulfillment.

However, for Hanson these requirements fall right into the sweet spot of what we specialize in when it comes to national retail fulfillment.

Learn how we can specifically help your business streamline operations by contacting us today.

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

How the New Generation of “Fast Food” is Impacting Food Logistics

Much like Uber did to ground transportation and Airbnb is doing to the hotel industry, doorstep food delivery is disrupting the food supply chain with its promise of delivering everything from raw ingredients to hot-and-tasty dishes right to the consumers’ doorstep.

In a world where searching for ingredients, visiting a store for those goods, and then going home to cook meals is giving way to more immediate, on-demand options, the logistics industry has found itself in an interesting position.

And when consumers can get their favorite meals with the tap of a mobile phone, both cold chains and refrigerated warehouses must be able to adapt quickly to that level of order fulfillment.

“The cold chain industry is changing fast. Between the increased development and usage of temperature sensitive biologic pharmaceuticals and consumer preferences for convenient, fresh foods, the cold chain must adapt quickly,” Datex Corp., notes in its 2018 3PL Refrigerated Warehouse & Cold Chain Trends report.

The All-Powerful Consumer is in Charge

With more than 600 refrigerated warehouse operators across the U.S., the cold storage warehouse industry is dominated by the top 10 companies, which own 80% of the market. This trend is poised to continue, Datex reports, as the largest enterprises merge or acquire smaller cold storage warehouse operations.

Consumer power is a major factor dominating the cold chain, where convenience, wholesome food, and just-in-time delivery are converging and creating new supply chain challenges. The shift away from highly-processed foods with a long shelf life to temperature-sensitive perishable food products, for example, requires an adjustment in the food supply chain.

“Because consumers value convenience and fast delivery, there are added complications,” Datex notes. “From U.S. ports to distribution centers, 3PLs and privately-owned refrigerated warehouses, designing a cold chain that meets consumers’ needs can seem daunting.”

More fresh and chilled products are being ordered in smaller quantities and from a wider range of product choices, Datex adds, leading to a proliferation of new product development, product and packaging changes, and updates.

“The food and grocery industry is changing at breakneck speed, due to consumer buying habits and expectations,” Datex concludes. “The cold chain needs to change and must become as flexible and transparent as possible and that will take technology, forward-thinking business executives and investments in innovation.”

Feeling the Impacts

In Blue Apron and the Subscription Retail Supply Chain, Arc Advisory Group’s Chris Cunnane says consumers like the model for its sheer convenience. Suppliers, on the other hand, face some unprecedented challenges in the race to provide that convenience.

Ensuring that ingredients are kept fresh during the delivery process, for example, incorporates both storage and delivery. The last mile, warehousing expenses, and labor also present their own challenges for companies with these new food delivery models.

“With continued innovation, and more companies joining the subscription ranks, the market is poised to continue to put more control over the shopping experience in the hands of the customer,” Cunnane notes. “The big question is whether these companies have the supply chain to accommodate the change.”

by Hanson Logistics Hanson Logistics

The 3PL as a Technology Partner

Buying, implementing, and maintaining supply chain software applications can be an expensive and time-consuming initiative. Whether the projects are managed by your company’s in-house IT team or outsourced to a third party, the costs associated with this function can chip away at a company’s bottom line, put undue stress on a company’s resources, and result in unfavorable levels of system downtime.

To help alleviate these pain points, third-party logistics providers (3PLs) like Hanson Logistics have been investing in supply chain, logistics, and transportation applications that help customers work smarter, better, and faster without the need for big IT investments.

Gaining a Competitive Edge

By leveraging their 3PL’s technology investments, companies are getting systems up and running faster, avoiding lengthy implementation times, and blissfully ignoring ongoing upgrade and maintenance issues.

“To gain an edge in a competitive market, 3PL providers stay up to date with the latest developments in technology so you don’t have to,” writes Global Trade Magazine’s Steve Lowery in “Going it Alone.” “The software that 3PLs create can provide visibility to monitor the entire supply chain through advanced reporting, helping inventory management, logistics planning, and many other business processes.”

In addition, Lowery points out that sophisticated software systems analyze and track processes to eliminate inefficient areas and fast track necessary links in the chain. “By outsourcing logistics needs to a 3PL,” he writes, “a company is able to focus more on its core competencies while being ensured that its logistics needs are being handled by reliable, seasoned professionals who are not only good at what they do but constantly looking for the newest ways to improve clients’ tech options.”

Technology: The Missing Link

Already working directly with shippers to manage transportation of products in the most economically feasible and efficient manner possible, logistics providers rely heavily on technology to determine the best rates, select the best routes, and track shipments as they move around the world.

The same providers are using online platforms, websites, mobile devices, EDI, and password-protected platforms to share information with customers in real-time, thus taking on the technology investment burden and equipping multiple customers in the process.

For example, 3PLs use transportation management systems (TMS) to orchestrate product movement across the supply chain and the related transportation choices. Using reports and data, the software gives the 3PL visibility into the customer’s supply chain performance and supports future decision making.

At Hanson Logistics, we continually invest in upgrades to our supply chain systems. For example, through Infor’s Supply Chain Management System, all customers have secure access to their own inventory information, in addition to real-time order status visibility, inventory availability, and shipment status. The system has built-in parameters that are triggered in the event of back orders, order acknowledgement, shipments, or delays. This enables shippers to manage exceptions via pager, text, fax, email, or other means of communications with their contacts. In addition to dovetailing with our WMS, Hanson’s Transportation Management System (TMS) offers:

  • Track & trace, allowing customers and Hanson staff to track shipments through delivery
  • Customer defined reference numbers for added continuity
  • Secure access that gives shippers and authorized consignees tracking ability for transparent customer service
  • Easy-to-use interface for customizing event management and notification preferences
  • 24/7 access to instant rate information, carrier performance, and costing matrix, and reporting by carrier, location, date, activity, etc.

By leveraging these and other capabilities directly through your 3PL, you gain insights into the TMS-generated data that helps your company supply a high degree of customer service and satisfaction to its own clients. With a bigger emphasis being placed on the customer experience, having these real-time, actionable insights in today’s competitive business environment can mean the difference between a long-term customer and an unsatisfied client.