Each year the demand for new and more specialized lab supplies increases and the supply procurement process grows more complex. This is particularly prevalent in the biotech space as innovation and R&D for pharmaceuticals continues to evolve.
With advancements in science and medicine happening so quickly these days, scientists need to be smarter about their lab supply shopping processes than ever before — especially when you consider ongoing supply chain disruptions, budgetary restrictions, and consistently high demand on labs to produce results.
With those challenges and complexities in mind, lab managers, operation managers, procurement specialists, and lab supply purchasing teams have had to adapt to new tech and develop new digital processes to navigate lab supply management and maintain research timelines.
For suppliers, the first step toward effectively setting your customers up to streamline the lab supply sourcing and ordering process is to familiarize yourself with all of the ways these scientists are having a complicated time and address them in your own offerings.
Here are some of the top concerns, complaints, and problems scientists have with the lab supply ordering process, and how suppliers can create a more seamless shopping experience.
Here is a closer look at the top lab supply procurement concerns facing scientists, lab managers, and lab supply procurement teams and how you can avoid them in the upcoming years.
1. Difficulty navigating lab supply chain shortages
Source: u/ms_old_field on Reddit
The most prominent complaint scientists have right now is how difficult it has been to navigate these ongoing supply chain shortages. While nearly every industry has been forced to address these recent supply chain restrictions and delays, the current pressure on scientists to produce results in the face of the pandemic has resulted in extreme shortages in research-specific products.
For example, a recent shortage of pipette tips threw labs around the world into disarray as many struggled to obtain even the bare minimum that they needed to proceed with their projects as planned.
Suppliers can make it easier for scientists to be prepared for delays by consistently practicing open communication with your buyers and providing up-to-date shipping information and progress.
There’s no need to sugar coat supply chain shortages. Instead, it is best practice to use complete transparency with your buyers during this time so that they are better able to plan their projects around supply availability. Suppliers — you can also offer alternate products for when a certain SKU is out of stock or backordered.
2. Lack of supplier diversity
Although the emergence of eProcurement technology and digital life science marketplaces have made it easier for scientists to access a more varied selection of vendors than ever before, many lab managers are still not satisfied with the amount of supplier diversity available to them.
Scientists are becoming more conscious and thoughtful of where their money is going. Many would prefer to support smaller supply companies and local vendors over massive suppliers, and even prefer to support vendors that follow ESG best practices to make sure they are spending their lab supply budget responsibly.
To communicate to your customers that they can be proud of shopping with you as their lab supplier, revisit your supplier diversity statement and protocols to ensure it reflects the consciousness of your company.
3. Hard to find the best deal for supplies
Naturally, scientists and lab supply procurement teams always want to make sure they are paying the best price for the supplies they need. However, the more crowded the lab supply market becomes, the harder it is for scientists to know if they are actually getting the best bang for their buck or not.
It’s additionally frustrating when products that appear to be exactly the same have drastically different prices on them from vendor to vendor, or even month to month at the same vendor. Without complete supply chain transparency, scientists are left to trust their instincts when it comes to choosing the best quality supply for their price point.
To ensure you are consistently offering fair, reasonable, and budget-friendly prices to your customers, suppliers should regularly look at recent benchmark reports to ensure they are continuously offering supplies at industry standard price points. Otherwise, you may find yourself wondering why all your previous customers are suddenly shopping elsewhere.
4. Time consuming to compare prices across different vendors
Comparing prices across vendors can quickly become a time consuming and tedious activity for research scientists. Jumping between multiple browser windows, receiving multiple quotes from various vendors, and showing competitor quotes to your preferred vendor quickly adds up.
Even once a lab has formed a relationship with a vendor they can trust, the comparison process doesn’t just stop. With new lab supply vendors hitting the market seemingly every day, there is always a new supplier to check out and compare prices with.
To reduce price comparison headaches, lab supply vendors should audit their user experience for ease of use. Starting at the beginning of a procurement team’s experience ordering from your company, make sure that it is as simple as possible for buyers to receive product quotes, compare quotes, and customize their orders based on their budget and needs.
As the lab supply market continues to expand and new vendors emerge, it is growing increasingly difficult for scientists, lab managers, and supply procurement teams to seamlessly order the lab supplies they need for their projects.
Therefore it’s up to the vendors themselves to ensure they are continuously creating a hassle-free lab supply procurement process for their customers that’s designed with their needs in mind. To get started, here are 5 R&D Procurement Best Practices you can begin adopting today.