When you’re browsing for your next lab equipment purchase, it’s helpful to be armed with as much information as possible. Often one of the more important pieces of information is when you could expect the item if you were to purchase it. Knowing roughly when a product is likely to ship is not only helpful with in planning, but it may affect your purchasing decision. A product with a 2-day lead time would almost always be far preferable to a product with a 20-day lead time, but most laboratory equipment suppliers don’t provide this information.

We realize that it can be annoying and time consuming to call up and ask about lead times for every product which you may be considering, so we’ve placed that information (or at least an estimate of it) right on the product pages themselves. We now display median time to fulfillment for every product we offer*.

Why Median Time to Fulfillment?

Like most laboratory equipment suppliers, Laboratory Supply Network’s products are shipped directly from the manufacturer. As is also the case for other distributors, most manufacturers don’t have inventory systems that can integrate into our IT systems. There is also a trend towards more items being built at the time the order is placed, which increases lead times (see below for more on that).

All of these factors combine to make it difficult to know the availability or lead time for a given product. Even many large lab suppliers don’t disclose item availability or lead time, as most scientists have experienced first-hand.

However, based on our extensive experience with our manufacturing partners, we’re now offering a data-driven solution to this problem in the form of median time to fulfillment. We have added this metric near the top of each product page so you can quickly and easily see an estimate of the time it will take to dispatch. For example, the current median time to fulfillment for a BeadBug™ (found on Homogenizers.net) is two business days:

The BeadBug product page.

Note that if that data isn’t available for certain products, we show the median time to fulfillment for that particular manufacturer.

The Incu-Shaker CO2 Mini page.

For example, for the Incu-Shaker™ CO2 Mini on OrbitalShakers.net, we display the median fulfillment time for Benchmark Scientific products, which is also two business days.

In Stock or Made to Order?

Note that the median time to fulfillment is there to give you an idea of how long it generally takes to ship the product. However, it doesn’t tell you if an item is in stock or if it’s built-to-order. For items that fall into the latter category and for which lead times are significant, we try to make a note as such in the product page description.

For example, American Biotech Supply refrigerators and freezers are manufactured at the time the order is placed. They then have to go through extensive testing to ensure superior quality, so lead times are typically about three weeks.

A product page with a note about lead time.

This information is provided as a note at the bottom of the relevant product page descriptions, for example on the Premier Undercounter Built-In Freezers page on LabFreezers.net, as shown above.

Why Not Average Time to Fulfillment?

You may be wondering why we use the median time to fulfillment instead of the average. The problem with using average times is that long lead time outliers would skew the data. In that case, we’d end up significantly overestimating the amount of time it would take for the product order to be fulfilled in most cases. When you’re considering a purchase, you want to know when you might expect your item after you purchase it. We therefore wanted to answer the question: “How long does this item usually take to ship?” as that is the closest question we can answer using our data. The key word there is “usually” – that tells us we’re better off using the median time rather than the mean time.

Need More Certainty?

This new feature is meant to help guide your purchasing decisions, not provide concrete information about anything in the future. If you need to know if an item is in stock and how long it would currently take to ship, please contact us and we’ll get that information for you and can also let you know approximately how long the transit time will be. It usually only takes a 2-minute phone call.

At Laboratory Supply Network, we think YOU should be in charge of your purchasing decisions. We aim to give you as much information as we can to help you find the best lab equipment for your needs as efficiently as possible. We hope that this new feature helps you make faster, better laboratory purchasing decisions.