Lab Efficiency

How to stop timeline slide and seamlessly deal with lab supply backorders

Do you hold your breath and cross your fingers until certain lab supply orders actually arrive at your lab? Have you ever waited for an order for weeks only to find out that it’s gone on backorder, and you weren’t notified? Nothing can derail an experiment like an unexpected backorder, which can occur at any point in the purchasing process. Certain protocols require specific supplies, and finding qualified, in-stock product alternatives from onboarded suppliers can take time that your experiment can’t spare.

How common is the dreaded experiment timeline slide?

Throughout 2021 and 2022, ZAGENO, the leading lab supply marketplace, surveyed hundreds of research scientists, lab operations, and procurement professionals across various biotech and pharmaceutical R&D labs about their lab supply purchasing processes.


Graphic showing 10 beakers, 9 of which are green and one grey.

ZAGENO’s study discovered that 9 out of 10 research scientists have experienced experiment delays as a result of product backorders.

Backorder-related delays can occur at any time during the lab supply ordering process

  • PunchOut catalogs may not be current, with products incorrectly listed as currently available
  • Suppliers often don’t proactively notify purchasers about backorders and shipping delays
  • During a slow approval process, item(s) in the order may have gone on backorder

When faced with an unexpected backorder, the lab must decide whether to wait for the product to become available or search for an in-stock alternative, often from a long tail supplier which can take days or weeks to be added to the system. These delays add an average of 3 hours per week to find suitable alternative solutions to keep experiments going.

As organizations scale, so does the amount of time spent on finding alternatives. On average, scientists in more established R&D labs spend 26% more time each week on such tasks than their counterparts in early-stage biotechs.


Three pie charts. Early-stage biotech with 85% of share; Late-stage biotech with 78% of share; Pharma with 90% of share.

Percentage of Scientists Who Have Experienced Experiment Delays Due to Backorders, by Organization Size.

To address these issues, many life sciences organizations are turning to a lab supply marketplace, such as ZAGENO, to automate the purchasing process and make ordering lab supplies as Amazon-like as possible. ZAGENO users can build a cart from over 40 million products across 5,300 suppliers with ZAGENO as the sole vendor of record, meaning that there is only one consolidated invoice each month.

7 must-have features to stop timeline slide before it starts, with a lab supply marketplace

  1. One place to access millions of products from thousands of vetted suppliers
  2. Self-service access to real-time product availability and delivery estimates
  3. Streamlined approval flows
  4. Quick turnaround from order submission to purchase order
  5. Automated backorder notification
  6. Peer-reviewed alternatives for backordered items
  7. White-glove customer service to help address backorders

Even though scientists carefully plan experiments to try to control every variable, not every bump in the road can be avoided. However, using a lab supply marketplace such as ZAGENO can help the lab make informed ordering decisions and quickly react to procure qualified, in-stock product alternatives and keep experiments running on schedule.

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