When you consider which of the dozens of biological reagents companies to work with, how can you determine which one is the right fit? There is, of course, a business aspect to making and distributing quality antibody reagents. The source of the antibodies that you rely on for your research will matter in terms of supply consistency, lead time, cost, and the associated services to support your product.
Original Manufacturers Vs. Distributors
Broadly speaking, there are two types of antibody supplies in the market: original manufacturers and distributors. The majority of antibody suppliers are distributors, including some of the biggest names in the market. As an original manufacturer, ABclonal Technology offers over 14,500 antibody products, and develops multiple antibodies for new targets every year, all in-house. Think of original manufacturers like ABclonal as the ones providing the materials that is then bought and sold by Amazon or a grocery store to the general public. For example, companies like ThermoFisher and VWR are like the Amazon of the biological reagents world, where they will have their own brands for antibodies, but that brand contains antibodies from mixed sources as they pull from multiple original manufacturers.
What Are the Differences?
Ultimately, it boils down to manufacturing ownership and distribution channels. An original manufacturer will develop, test, and mass-produce its antibody products in a facility owned and managed by the company. This type of company may sell the antibodies directly to customers, although they might also use distributors as well.
Conversely, a distributor does not own its facilities to develop or manufacture antibodies. Instead, they acquire products from original manufacturers. In this case, the manufacturer that supplies products to a distributor is called an original equipment manufacturer (OEM). OEM is a common model in the business world, including the life sciences research supply industry. There are some distributors that will relabel and sell the OEM products under their own brand, while others sell under the original manufacturer's brand. Although some distributors may perform additional testing on the OEM antibodies to satisfy their own criteria, typically they sell the product as-is. Distributors are also free to dilute the OEM antibodies so they can get more product output from the same material. Due to the necessity of setting a profit margin, prices from a distributor are invariably higher than the original manufacturer's list prices.
Does It Matter?
Purchasing your antibody from an original manufacturer as opposed to a distributor will matter for multiple reasons. We can look at the advantages and disadvantages of each below.
Advantages of an original manufacturer
- You can expect product consistency.
- You can request to test multiple lots.
- Lead time and customer service are quicker and better.
- The cost to you is invariably lower.
Disadvantages of an original manufacturer
- Our "signal" is usually not as strong or wide as the larger distributors.
- Our branding is often masked by the distributor's relabeling policies.
Advantages of a distributor
- Usually offer a larger selection of antibodies as they are able to pull from various companies to fill their portfolio.
- May offer multiple different antibodies that recognize the same target.
Disadvantages of a distributor
- Prices are usually much higher than the original manufacturer.
- Products may become discontinued.
- Lead time may be longer due to having to ship from the original manufacturer before it can get to you.
- Technical support may be inadequate due to lack of expertise with the original product.
- Distributor may not have a satisfactory refund or replacement policy.
You Have Questions, We Have Answers
By now you probably have a number of burning questions. While we cannot always tell you whether the antibody supplied to you by a distributor was manufactured by them or by an original manufacturer like ABclonal, here are some hints about where your key product might be coming from.
Why did my supplier discontinue an antibody?
Unfortunately, most of the time it is because the supplier was just a distributor, and their own supplier (the original manufacturer) has ended the distribution agreement or discontinued the product on their end.
How do I know if my supplier is a distributor?
Your supplier is most likely a distributor if:
- They cannot offer a different antibody lot;
- Their bulk size order lead time is unusually long (greater than two weeks);
- They are unable to answer technical questions immediately.
How ABclonal Can Help
ABclonal Technology is an original antibody manufacturer, which means we develop, produce, and validate every antibody product we list for sale. Additionally, we provide in-house customized antibody development and production services. Because ABclonal produces and sells the reagent directly to you, all of our antibodies start at $128 in multiple convenient sizes to fit your budget and needs. Please feel free to browse our extensive catalog, or contact us directly to find out more about your favorite target or to get a quotation.