R&D equipment supplier Labfriend launches in NZ

The Sydney-based online laboratory equipment supplier, Labfriend, launched in New Zealand on June 18th, 2014, to provide students, researchers, and scientists with affordable laboratory equipment and consumables.

Unlike many other suppliers, Labfriend operates their business 100% online, which allows them to offer some of the lowest prices in the industry.

Karl Wyzenbeek, founder and managing director of Labfriend, said in an email, “We created LabFriend to help save scientists and research organisations money on the best equipment. We know that there is limited budget for research, and compromising on quality, spending huge amount of times trying to find information and overpaying is just in no one’s interest.”

In 2013, the online retailer was founded in Australia with no external investment in an effort to battle the challenges around funding and importing specialist equipment. Since then, the e-commerce retailer has found that selling scientific equipment is a profitable niche market, and that operating solely online allows them to keep costs to a minimum. For example, the startup only needs a handful of full-time employees. Karl Wyzanbeek is the managing director, and Anna Peppou is the e-commerce manager and friendly customer service representative behind Labfriend’s pop-up chat.

Karl says that Kiwis haven’t been as quick their counterparts across the Tasman have to take advantage of the low prices that Labfriend is offering.

“In Australia, we started receiving orders one day after launching which actually caught us off guard,” Karl explains. “New Zealand has been a little slower. Instead of one day, it took one week to receive our first order since launch.”

“We think the potential in New Zealand is huge,” Karl added. “NZ has a very active research base within the universities and agriculture sector, and it has also been home to some amazing international companies, like Fisher & Paykel and Fonterra, who are global leaders in R &D.”

Another aspect of Labfriend that has been surprising to Karl is the diversity of customers that purchase from the website. Chefs have bought pH meters to measure the acidity of their food. Libraries have bought humidity monitors. Factories use Labfriend’s equipment to check food, and the world’s leading cancer researchers have ordered items for use in critical lab applications.

Karl says that the site’s ease of use and accessibility is partly responsible for the large amount of clients they’ve seen so far.

“LabFriend offers a number of different payment options to our customers,” he says. “You can purchase online and pay via Master Card, Amex, Visa or PayPal.”

“Also, because we do a lot of work with companies who have their own internal purchasing systems, customers can place orders online with internal purchase order numbers, and then pay via EFT.”

At the moment, Labfriend is offering nation-wide shipping to New Zealand customers through PBT couriers.

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