Lab Efficiency

Navigating the lab supply ordering maze: How to solve P2P implementation challenges

Ordering lab supplies can feel like running through a maze. Just when you think you’re finished, another potential dead end appears. As R&D organizations scale, most functions get more complex, especially the lab supply ordering process. A small start-up can get by with a manual process at first, using spreadsheets and Smartsheet, but not for long. The next step is to begin to digitalize procurement, often by implementing a procure-to-pay (P2P) and/or source-to-pay (S2P) platform. While this is a big step towards reducing manual tasks that waste time and resources, the uniqueness of the R&D space complicates P2P implementation and can limit automation. Luckily, there is a way out of the maze.

P2P and R&D

P2P platforms integrate purchasing and accounts payable systems, resulting in an end-to-end process from product selection through payment. S2P platforms incorporate P2P, but also include sourcing and contracting. While these platforms help automate back-end functions and interface with enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, they are not geared towards the lab supply ordering process. P2P/S2P directs lab supply purchasers to PunchOut catalogs, which enable buyers to purchase supplies from pre-determined suppliers through the buyer’s own procurement portal. PunchOut catalogs often have outdated pricing and product availability data, as well as lack the necessary product variety that scientists need to conduct experiments. These limitations lead to maverick spend, loss of bargaining power, lack of price transparency, limited spend visibility, and overall process inefficiencies.

P2P and lab supply ordering end-user satisfaction

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, both with and without P2P/S2P platforms. The results showed extreme dissatisfaction with the lab supply purchasing process that actually worsened post-P2P/S2P implementation.

Graphic showing labs with and without p2p. Without has a score of -54, with has a score of -63.

End-user satisfaction decreases post-P2P/S2P implementation


The complexities of the R&D space combined with the limitations of P2P/S2P platforms actually serve to hinder the goals of procurement automation and end-user process satisfaction.

How lab supply marketplaces can bridge the P2P implementation gap

Research findings show that post-P2P implementation, R&D scientists and lab operations staff feel disconnected from suppliers and procurement and that technology decisions are made on their behalf, without their input. Accessing a self-service lab supply marketplace such as ZAGENO during or after P2P implementation directly connects scientists with purchasing, receiving, and suppliers, drastically improving end-user satisfaction.

P2P Implementation Challenge Lab Supply Marketplace Solution Benefits
Time spent searching, comparing, and purchasing lab supplies triples post-P2P implementation Build one cart from millions of products from thousands of vetted suppliers. Receive one consolidated monthly invoice. Price transparency and comparison via an Amazon-like experience. Significant cost and time savings.
Time spent tracking orders doubles post-P2P implementation Self-service order tracking and automated order, shipping, backorder, delivery, and receiving notifications. Centralized inventory management and order history. Less time spent chasing down orders, freeing up scientists, procurement, and receiving to reinvest effort in more value-added activities.
Time spent finding qualified product alternatives in the face of backorders increases post-P2P Feature-rich marketplace enables easy identification of qualified, in-stock alternatives. ZAGENO team on hand to help source hard-to-find alternatives. Empowers scientists to become active end-users. Reduces time-to-milestone achievement by ensuring supplies are available when needed.
Time to add and onboard suppliers to the system more than post-P2P Thousands of vetted, onboarded suppliers available through the ZAGENO marketplace. Non-catalog vendors added by the ZAGENO team within 24 hours. Eliminates vendor addition delays, free-text requests and maverick spend. Improves SLAs, enhances bargaining power, and reduces long tail spend.


Lab supply marketplaces serve as a central hub on a single platform for scientists and purchasing to find the supplies, equipment, and tools they need from onboarded, vetted suppliers. With thousands of vendors displayed side by side, lab managers reap the benefits of complete cost transparency. In a life science marketplace, specialty vendors are afforded the same visibility as more dominant brands and scientists can find what they need using advanced search functions. They can also save their orders for one-click re-ordering, saving hours of manually adding lab items to the online shopping cart. At the same time, finance and procurement teams benefit from a SaaS-based management solution, ERP integration for centralized invoicing, and analytics to accurately forecast spending and inventory needs. Contact ZAGENO today to learn how to overcome P2P implementation challenges, achieve total procurement automation, and emerge from the maze of lab supply ordering.

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