Lab Supply Ordering from a Scientist’s Perspective: A ZAGENO Interview

ZAGENO interviewed a lead scientist at Duke University to learn more about the lab supply procurement process and understand the pain points from the perspective of someone doing research in the lab.

Since the lab supply shopping experience has changed drastically with the modern ecommerce marketplace, we wanted to learn if scientists have experienced this same transition in their eProcurement experience.

Some difficulties we’ve heard from ZAGENO scientists and others associated with the lab supply purchasing process are:

  • Spending an entire day purchasing supplies
  • Choosing the right unit of measure
  • Engaging in manual, error prone, time consuming tasks
  • Broken technology, like glitching carts

Here is the scientist perspective:

ZAGENO: Can you walk me through your lab supply buying process from beginning to end?

Scientist: At Duke they have a system set up called Buy@Duke and this system works such that it interfaces with a lot of other supplier websites. The idea is that you look through the database on another website, grab the part number, price, how many you want and other details and load those details all in a cart. Once ready to order, you then turn towards your specific funding source and submit that order to your supervisor for approval. Once approved, it gets ordered through that company. The system combines the shopping process with the grant internal payment process.


ZAGENO: What tools do you use to buy lab supplies?

Scientist: Buy@Duke is the primary mechanism, and they also issue corporate credit cards that can be reimbursed with grants if it is a custom order.


ZAGENO: Do your current systems have any challenges or limitations?

Scientist: The Buy@Duke system seems a little antiquated. One area that is challenging is the custom stuff. If you are ordering custom things that aren’t a typical part number at a company then using [our current procurement software] can be difficult.


ZAGENO: If you could change anything about the lab supply procurement process, what would you change?

Scientist: The easiest way it could be set up is if I could just go on a vendor’s website, load everything into a cart, and then it would be nice if there was a button at checkout that just diverted to Duke where then I can type in the grant number and get it authorized there. If you could purchase from the websites directly, it would be more helpful.

The problem is that I can’t go to Buy@Duke to browse, but with vendors, I can search through all the supplies I want before filling my cart.


ZAGENO: What is your favorite thing about the lab supply buying process?

Scientist: Nothing…

.  .  .

ZAGENO seeks to change the response of scientists like this one who find the lab supply purchasing process to be less than seamless.

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