The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformations in labs, and led many to adopt more modern ways of procuring biotech supplies. The global lab supply market is growing quickly and rising in demand for new suppliers as biotech research skyrockets.
With ongoing supply chain disruptions over the past few years, biotech R&D labs have turned to systems with better shipment tracking and visibility, like lab supply marketplaces that offer dashboards and shipping alerts.
This shift towards lab supply marketplaces has improved the lives of lab managers, scientists, and vendors alike. It promises quality supplies, better visibility, easy access, and much-needed scalability for new, innovative R&D labs.
For busy labs, the benefits of digital procurement include streamlined processes, less manual tasks, and reduced errors. For vendors, new ways of shopping for lab supplies offer an engaged audience of motivated buyers ready to meet your brand and try your products.
Here’s how lab supply and equipment companies can take advantage of the changing nature of lab supply purchasing that the new generation of biotech researchers has embraced.
New Trends in Scientific Purchasing
Gone are the days where labs relied on a limited network of vendors and manual, outdated methods of supply procurement. With the growing complexities of biotech research and the introduction of technology in R&D labs, lab managers and researchers are now turning to automation for better processes, products, and prices. Here are some of the top trends in scientific purchasing that have become integral parts of growing labs’ operations.
1. Lab Supply Marketplace
Traditional lab supply purchasing workflows with clunky systems and cumbersome ordering processes are no longer the only way for labs to procure the products they need.
Growing R&D labs are driving demand for an information-packed, seamless lab purchasing process that saves time and resources. The focus is now shifting towards lab supply marketplaces that bring better visibility, trust, and standardization to the sourcing process.
Supply chain issues and increased lead times have led biotech scientists to seek out more and more suppliers and choose marketplaces over individual vendor relationships in the past two years. Life science marketplaces are convenient platforms and provide a comprehensive network of vendors for scientists to compare products and prices instantly.
2. Automated Lab Supply Processes
Manual processes and human errors slow down the growth of R&D labs. Manual documentation, inventory management, and procurement processes take up a significant amount of lab employees’ bench time and affect research output.
As with every other industry, labs are replacing manual, tedious tasks like these with technology and automation. With easy-to-use automated lab supply software, scientists can save time and collect digital data on all lab processes. It’s easier to store and access, and has minimal (or nonexistent) errors.
R&D labs of the future are using AI for payment processing, regulatory compliance management, safety alerts, and more.
3. Integrated Lab Supply Management Tools
With comprehensive lab supply management tools, lab managers can stay on top of all lab functions to avoid overspending, waste, and safety risks. Integrated tools eliminate inventory accuracies, assess stock levels in real-time, and can forecast reordering needs.
For example — lab managers can integrate lab supply purchasing tools with lab inventory management systems, then set up automated alerts when products are running low or on backorder. Or they can create safety checks where they receive alerts when a product will expire or require a different type of storage.
This digitization and access to all information on one platform has transformed the way lab managers work, removing the need for hours of uploading, downloading, and data cleanup. Lab supply processes can now be customized and set up for growth.
How Emerging R&D Suppliers can Stand Out Online [+ the Risks of Being "Invisible" to Scientists]
In 2021, Gilson, an industry staple for liquid handling and extraction products, partnered with ZAGENO to bring its products to more scientists and further scientific innovation. Gilson’s Head of Distribution Partnerships, Peter Fleskes, wanted to meet their target customers where they are and provide more access to automated, future-forward lab processes. Gilson’s category-leading portfolio now stands alongside approximately 30 million other SKUs in the ZAGENO life science-specific lab supply marketplace.
Consumers are using online marketplaces more than ever before. Marketplaces have become the best place to tap into a massive and growing audience, meet new customers, and resell to old ones. It’s a place that allows suppliers to build their brand image and use accurate information about their products to strategically position them to the target group.
Suppliers can directly promote their products to the end consumers through an online marketplace without having to manage the backend and technological maintenance that comes along with sophisticated software platforms.
In addition to connecting the buyers and sellers, online marketplaces handle order processing, payment cycles, and digital dashboards so both parties can analyze their lab supply purchasing data.
With their growing popularity, lab managers and scientists are flocking towards digital marketplaces to streamline their supply ordering process and meet new vendors. By bridging the gap between supply and demand, these platforms have the potential to transform a local business into one with national or even international reach.
Why R&D and Biotech Suppliers Should Embrace Vendor Consolidation Through Online Marketplaces
Vendors no longer need to rely on cold pitches, discounted prices, and sales representatives to connect with their target consumers. Today’s shoppers are more informed than ever and scientists are keen on doing their own research to find the supplies they need. Not only that, but with the complexity of scientific research in the biotech field increasing, bench scientists are often searching for highly specific items that their lab manager or PI may not be able to search for as easily as they can.
In addition to meeting potential customers and building long-lasting relationships with them, here are a few more reasons suppliers should embrace online marketplaces to thrive in the competitive life science industry.
1. To reach engaged biotech scientist audiences
Due to the growing sophistication of lab supply information, it’s natural for suppliers to cater to a targeted customer segment. One of the best features of a digital marketplace is its ability to become a central location where the scientists’ demands and sellers’ supply meet. Sellers can appeal to their target consumers and scientists get the supplies they had been looking for.
2. For better product visibility
As growing labs look for lab supply information that goes beyond what’s on the packaging, suppliers can make use of the digital life science world to make their product more visible to the target consumers. Digital marketplaces use advanced technology like user-friendly search features. Vendors can analyze search information to identify what their target consumers are looking for and can customize their product information to be easy to find.
3. To attract and retain loyal users
As lab science marketplaces take over the mundane, tedious tasks out of the way, scientists and lab managers spend more time at the bench, increasing overall lab productivity. Combined with better budget management, less waste, and easily accessible data, labs continue to progress in their research. Lab needs grow over time and they turn to trusted vendors and suppliers for placing bigger, more frequent orders.
Digitization has changed the relationship between buyers and sellers within the life science industry. Without digital marketplaces, sellers are constantly competing for their place in the market and unable to reach their target group. Instead of spending time optimizing for the search intent of the entire internet, suppliers can now optimize for their specific niche audience in an online marketplace and start selling.