Innovation | Supply Chain | Supplier Consolidation

3 Supplier Diversification Pro-Tips for a Cost-Effective, Resilient Lab Supply Chain

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for supply chain resilience. However, a Gartner survey found 60% of leaders say their supply chains were designed for cost efficiency, not resiliency. The challenge for life sciences is to build a diversified supply chain that is cost-effective, yet resilient. In the March 2024 webinar, “The AI-Powered Supply Chain: How Supplier Diversity and New Tech Build Resilience”, ZAGENO’s supplier relationship partnership team offered pro tips to harness the power of supplier diversification without slowing down the procurement process.

Why diversify your supply chain?

Supply chain diversification for pharma and biopharma is vital. It's the key to mitigating risks, enhancing resilience, promoting innovation, and ensuring the continuity and efficiency of operations. It’s how labs can navigate market shifts, minimize disruptions, and maintain a competitive edge.

In life sciences, customer spend is often concentrated among a handful of major suppliers. While sticking to familiar brands might seem convenient, it forgoes the benefits of a diverse supplier base. A robust supply chain thrives on a wide array of suppliers across regions and production capabilities, which mitigates unexpected disruptions. Additionally, being able to access multiple suppliers for the same product fosters competition on price and quality, leading to cost reductions and a more efficient network. A diverse supply chain also enhances both the discovery and evaluation of new products and technical equivalents. 

Pro-tip 1: Consolidate vendor management with a lab supply marketplace

Building and maintaining relationships with the thousands of suppliers necessary to achieve sufficient diversification is time-consuming and inefficient, eating up hours each week on vendor set-up, contracting, relationship management, catalog maintenance, invoicing, and order tracking. Lab supply marketplaces offer a solution, providing instant access to a diversified network and streamlining the procurement process.

One account, access to thousands of brands

Through these platforms, users can build a single cart from millions of products from thousands of global suppliers, eliminating the need to navigate multiple supplier catalogs and manage thousands of supplier relationships. By leveraging marketplaces for consolidated vendor management, research, finance, and procurement professionals can achieve efficiency gains, cost savings, and improved risk management without sacrificing innovation. For example, the ZAGENO lab supply marketplace operates as a single supplier of record through which all of your lab supply purchases flow, seamlessly integrating with your existing processes, controls, and systems. This allows your lab to benefit from supplier diversification, without the added burden of supplier management.

Go deeper: Supplier Onboarding: How Labs can Offload the Supplier Addition Process

Pro-tip 2: Utilize an agnostic search engine to optimize product discovery

A strategically diversified supply chain provides researchers with access to large, trusted brands, as well as exposure to small and medium-sized brands that offer niche and innovative products. Empowering scientists to explore products from many types of suppliers increases the likelihood of finding the exact items needed. However, without the proper tools it can also complicate and slow down the product discovery process. 

More choices, less decision paralysis

In today's digital age, whether you're browsing a life sciences distributor or navigating platforms like Google, Amazon, Wayfair, or Etsy, product searches often present a curated view that favors specific products and brands. If the overall objective is to make it easy for scientists to find the right item, burying valuable products within pages of search results is counterproductive. 

Supplier-agnostic search engines, like the one used by ZAGENO, display unbiased search results based on relevance to the user's query and specific requirements rather than favoring specific suppliers or brands due to marketing or promotional tactics. AI-driven, supplier-agnostic search streamlines the product discovery process by presenting users with relevant, unbiased search results. Users can easily filter and refine their search criteria to narrow down their options, saving time and effort in locating the right products for their experiments or projects. This efficiency translates into accelerated research timelines and faster progress towards achieving scientific goals.

Example of Supplier-Agnostic Search

By featuring products from a diverse range of suppliers, including smaller and innovative companies, supplier-agnostic search engines foster innovation and discovery. Users may discover new and groundbreaking products that they may not have encountered through traditional supplier channels, leading to novel research opportunities and advancements in their fields.

Regardless of supplier partnership status or margin, ZAGENO’s supplier-agnostic search engine shows customers the products that are most applicable to their search.

Pro-tip 3: Resolve the paradox of supplier diversification by minimizing bottlenecks

Maintaining a diverse supplier list that caters to scientific choice demands significant time and resources. At many companies, setting up a new supplier or adding a new product can last days or even weeks. Lab supply marketplaces address this challenge by offering extensive existing supplier coverage and a streamlined process for onboarding new suppliers. For example, ZAGENO’s customer service team typically adds new suppliers within 24-48 hours, as well as proactively identifies and recruits innovative, competitive suppliers to the marketplace. 

Technology must also be optimized to enable rapid integration of new products to address the scientist’s niche research needs. In the case of ZAGENO, orders for new products are typically processed within 24 hours. This agility is crucial in meeting the evolving needs of R&D projects and demanding experimental timelines.

A supply chain that balances efficiency and resilience

In the pursuit of a resilient and cost-effective lab supply chain, diversification is paramount. Yet, the challenge lies in balancing efficiency with resilience. Supply chain diversification isn’t just about spreading risk—it's about accelerating innovation, having options, and staying ahead in a competitive landscape. 

For more insights into how to future-proof your supply chain, download ZAGENO’s free eBook, “The AI-Powered Supply Chain: How Supplier Diversity and New Tech Build Resilience.”

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