The Fastest way to set up an Account With Suppliers

Have a generic credit application on hand. We even made a sample one you can use as a reference below. This is a document to provide basic info to a supplier about your lab that includes

  • Lab shipping and billing addresses, 
  • bank info and contact
  • FEIN and D&B number 
  • date founded and where it was incorporated
  • Contact email addresses for purchasing and invoicing

Credit applications generally also include trade/credit references. These are suppliers who can say your lab reliably pays its bills on time. 

This document can also allow you to get credit terms with a supplier. Rather than pre-paying for everything with a credit card, the supplier will invoice the lab and they will have 30 days to pay that invoice by bank transfer or other means. 

Suppliers Vary in Account Setup

Suppliers vary widely in their requirements to set up an account and extend Net 30 credit terms. The simplest is registering online and ordering (Amazon). Some suppliers require more work to set up account, but extend terms immediately (Thermofisher). Some are draconian, requiring the most stringent requirements like multiple bank accounts to check as well as full financials of the lab (BD Biosciences). 

Some account set up requirements are negotiable, some aren’t. No matter what though, a generic credit app will save your lab time in getting set up to order with suppliers.

Glossary of useful terms

FEIN – Federal employer identification number (like social security number for a business)

D&B number (DUNS number) – The D-U-N-S Number is a unique nine-digit identifier for businesses. It is used to establish a business credit file.

Credit application – vendor application to get Net30 terms extended

Credit terms – the company has extended a line of credit to you for making Net 30 purchases. There is a spending limit.

Example Generic Credit Application

A generic Credit application with key info to set up an account on Net 30 terms or when filling in a web form to set up a new account with a supplier.

Intelligent Negotiating

The purpose of this blog is to help you understand the techniques for negotiate pricing with scientific suppliers. As you look to buy supplies or equipment for the lab, there are plenty of opportunities to overspend. Be careful! So how do you make the most of your money?
There are three concepts/processes you should understand to help you along the way:
  1. How suppliers and sales reps operate
  2. How and when to ask for a discount
  3. Industry pricing and the term “List Price”

List Price

Don't Pay This Price
In simple terms, List Price is the price of an item listed publicly on a supplier’s website. It is helpful to know if the List Price is a “fair” price, and if you have room to negotiate. We performed a case study, go to here, where you can see data showing how much wiggle room there is to negotiate pricing from the big suppliers. Generally, for the suppliers who sell anything and everything (Fisher, VWR, MilliporeSigma, etc.), you should try to NEVER pay list price.
Please take note that the price you should pay can be up to 80% off List Price. Shopping at scientific suppliers is nothing like Amazon where a market dictates pricing based on quality, reviews, and lots of competition between sellers. You have to be much more diligent with scientific shopping.
For companies that sell a specific line of products (Abcam, NEB, Teknova, etc.), paying List Price is acceptable most of the time.

How suppliers and sales reps operate

There are three branches of a supplier that you’ll interact with: Customer service, technical support, and sales reps. Suppliers hire sales reps to visit labs, call scientists, and email you to buy their supplies. A few points you should know:
  • It is their job to get you to buy from them.
  • Their income is based on two things, 1) how much you buy from them and 2) how close to List Price you pay…the closer to List Price, the more money they make.
  • Some have a science background, many don’t.
Most sales rep are in the “field” visiting scientists. Therefore they can be very unresponsive. Set your expectations accordingly when asking them for help. You can call customer service, but rarely can customer service help you with pricing. You should only call customer service when you need an order update or there’s a problem with the order, but not for pricing info or discount quotes.
The process for getting a quote is usually not fast. Your request first goes to the sales rep, who is possibly out in the field. Then, the sales rep might not have the authority to grant a particular discount, so they have to go to their manager for approval. This takes time, so if you need the items ASAP you might not be able to wait for a quote.

How and when to ask for a discount

The best times to request a quote are:
  1. when buying new and used equipment
  2. bulk quantities (five +)
  3. with a set shipping schedule (aka “standing order”)
  4. when your current price is List Price
Some tactics that help:
  • Use data. “We’ve spent $10,050 with your company this year, at what point do we qualify for the next tier of discounts?”
  • Use the competition. “SupplierX has quoted us this price, but we’d much prefer to buy from you. Can you beat or match their price?”
  • Sample request. “We’re interested in trying a new item in the lab – is it possible to get a discount or free sample?”
  • Be nice. Sales reps are people too. Kindness can get you lower pricing.
  • Don’t take no for an answer. If they provide a quote with a small discount and you think you can do better, don’t be afraid to ask for a larger discount – the worst they can say is no.
No matter the price, never ignore these three factors which can significantly increase the backend cost of the item:
  1. Shipping cost
  2. Timeline to deliver (delays mean your lab is paying your salary to wait)
  3. Product quality. Keep in mind…you get what you pay for. Low cost products are probably low quality. If you’re experiment fails because of low quality supplies, what is the cost of that lost experiment? Was it worth saving $50?
Happy spending!

Glossary of useful terms

  • List price – the public price of an item on a supplier website before applying lab discounts or promo codes
  • P.O. – Purchase Order. A document stating what you intend to buy.
  • Quote – a documented price that is not List Price
  • Sales Representative (sales rep) – contact person at a vendor/manufacturer. They responsible for managing your labs account and pricing, and can help out with order issues. They are assigned to regions of the country, state, or city.
  • Standing PO/order – An order for a fixed quantity of items with a recurring shipping schedule.
  • Supplier– a company that sells goods and services to your lab. They may or may not be a Manufacturer.

Thank you for Supporting Our Mission

We are grateful for our scientists, suppliers, and accountants.

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The Virtual Lab Manager team at HappiLabs sends thank you cards to scientists, individuals at suppliers, operations managers, and accountants that genuinely help us in our work to make scientists happy and improve the quality of their research.

We thank scientists for being scientists working to improve our world and our lives.

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HappiLabs knows it takes a team and special effort to change the world and we say thank you to those helping us do that.

What is the Busiest Day for Ordering Lab Supplies?

Wednesdays.

Fridays are 20% slower in terms of orders compared to the rest of the week.

HappiLabs took a snapshot of the last 10,000 orders placed by the Virtual Lab Manager team by day of the week.

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Why ordering slows on Fridays 

Tuesdays and Wednesdays are busiest for order requests, perhaps reflecting scientists ordering for the next work week or VLMs working hard to get orders in that will deliver by week’s end.

Scientists may not be making as many order requests on Fridays because the weekend is calling. Scientists like to have fun too.

Many suppliers will  not ship on Fridays or process an order until the following week (especially if a West coast scientists requests an item from an East Coast supplier on Friday afternoon). VLMs know this and may hold off on ordering until Monday morning because the order will not ship or sometimes even be processed until then anyhow. Scientists likely have a sense of this as well.

It just goes to show that scientists and the scientific supply chain are working for the weekend.

 

 

Handy Glove Guide

Hands are an important tool in science.  Protecting them so you can safely work in the lab is important.

Science often involves being around chemicals, sharps, scalpels, boxes, metal, liquid nitrogen tanks, and more that can be damaging to exposed hands.

Enviro Tech put together this guide matching glove material and their advantageous and disadvantageous shielding properties.

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The first two of ten gloves in Envirotech’s glove chart.

Gloves are only one part of being safe and responsible in the lab, of course (wear all of your PPE!).

The primary tool of staying safe is scientists’ own brains working to develop protocols to address and solve problems that might arise to keep the entire team as safe as possible as progress is made.

Cover Inage Photo credit: MaxPixel, CC0