RFP for Ecommerce Website: Hunting Out the Best Vendor to Replatform

Guides & Advice
19mid read July 5, 2022
Guides & Advice
RFP for Ecommerce Website: Hunting Out the Best Vendor to Replatform
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Another sales season has hit you hard. You’ve lost on sales, the downtime of your website increased, and you’ve detected yet another bug too costly to fix. At another company board meeting, you take a drastic decision: it’s time to replatform.

But how do you find the best ecommerce platform and the most reliable partner for you? Ecommerce RFP is your answer!

As an ecommerce development company with 13+ years of experience in the market, we receive ecommerce RFPs all the time. Some are better than others in terms of setting expectations, others just briefly articulate the requirements. 

We can say for sure: a solid RFP for an ecommerce website shouldn’t necessarily have pitchy taglines or fancy flowcharts. 

In this blog post, we’ll bring you some best practices on how to write a proposal for a website redesign. 

You’ll learn what is an RFP process, why you need one, and which questions are most common in an ecommerce RFP template.

No time to read? Scroll down to find a free ecommerce RFP with a list of questions to ask your potential vendor.

What is RFP?

An RFP stands for a Request for Proposal and is a formal document that announces the bidding process between B2B industry players. It includes a list of questions tech companies have to answer for you to select the ecommerce platform that will suit your business needs.

The reason to write an ecommerce RFP is twofold:

  • on the one hand, you set clear objectives and goals for your business,
  • on the other, you articulate them to the vendors and specify your expectations so that no SaaS company sells you what they have and affects your judgment.

Mind that a B2B ecommerce RFP is not the same as RFI (a Request for Information) which aims at getting broad information about an agency and its projects and precedes the RFP process. An RFP also differs from an ecommerce website specification document which is written after the agency selection process and specifies the e-store functionalities you want to see in the end product.

An RFP is also different from RFQ (a Request for Quote). The latter is sent when you already know which service you want, and the only thing to need is to learn the price. Instead of questions, an RFQ lists requirements and deliverables for a particular service and/or ecommerce platform. 

For instance, if you’re looking for Adobe Commerce integration or performance optimization, you should send us your Magento RFQ in the form below.

Request a quote for Magento development services

Send a Magento RFQ

How to Use an RFP for Ecommerce Website

Use ecommerce RFP to articulate your business-critical requirements about the project and evaluate the vendor’s potential to fulfill them.

Your RFP should be tailored to the needs of your project and include specific questions and requirements for a vendor. You might still be open to the vendor’s suggestions, but your RFP must present a clear idea of your business plan and goals.

A few more tips & tricks on using your B2B ecommerce website RFP:

  • Shoot straight. Some of the best ecommerce RFPs we’ve received were soaked with honesty, with clients using clear language, articulating their needs and current limitations, and seeking an equally straightforward ecommerce website development proposal. Cutting to the chase is never a sign of weakness. Instead, it saves tons of time and allows your vendor to meet your needs from the project kick-off.
  • Include your budget. Again, you’ll save a lot of time on later RFQs and filter all pricey vendors. If you’re not sure about your budget, let the vendor provide initial estimates based on what you requested. This way, in the final stages of your RFP process, you can engage in further conversations with the shortlisted candidates.
  • Show off your personality. A business proposal for an ecommerce website serves not only for you to find your perfect vendor but also for a vendor to evaluate you. So don’t hesitate to include some information on your company and create an impression of what it will look like to work with YOU.
  • Send your RFP to quality vendors. Check their portfolios, certifications, and customer reviews. Conduct a pre-emptive Q&A, if needed (by the way, the first consultation at Elogic is free specifically for such cases). Overall, don’t try to send your RFP to everyone you find on the web: you don’t want to face information overload before your project even starts.

As a response to your ecommerce RFP, you should receive an ecommerce website proposal template with the vendor’s answers and suggestions. It will be later used in the planning stage of your ecommerce development process. 

Find an ecommerce proposal sample in a related article on our blog: Ecommerce Website Development Project Plan [+Examples]

A Guide to an RFP Process: How to Write a Proposal for a Website Redesign

Knowing that the future of your project depends on a properly written ecommerce RFP can be intimidating. But it gets better if you break it down into bite-sized tasks or steps.

Standard RFP process

Any RFP process includes project planning, drafting, issuing, and evaluation stages. Here are a few steps we recommend taking to obtain a killer RFP for an ecommerce website — and actually use it.

Step #1: Ask Yourself Why You Need Replatforming 

Before you start searching for ecommerce platform vendors, ask yourself why you need replatforming and why now. The answers to these questions will guide your project goals and objectives. Make a list of your project weaknesses and limitations. Look for the obvious signs of ecommerce replatforming; think of all the lost sales, downtimes, and poor customer experience.

Talk it over with your colleagues to identify what you want, where you need improvements, and how you can achieve them. Explaining things to yourself is the first step to finding a solution.

Step #2: Set Your Goals

You should clearly see where you’re going with the whole replatforming thing. Are you trying to reduce the cost of running an e-store? Or increase revenues by upgrading ecommerce software? Or improve website performance and UX? Write out about 4-5 goals, each having at least three objectives, and prioritize them. The goal plan will keep you focused on your plan and choose relevant questions for your RFP. You can also use some help from ecommerce consultants to set a plan for this step.

Step #3: List Your Website’s Integrations & Features

To improve the efficiency of your replatforming and spend the budget wisely, you might want to talk to your IT department to see what your e-store is integrated with and which other systems you want to connect. It might be a good stage to consider which third-party systems you want to preserve and expand (like payment gateways or cybersecurity services) after migration to another platform.

For instance, when our potential client at the time sent us their RFP, they clearly specified that they were looking for Visma ERP integration on a new ecommerce platform. And since Elogic is a registered Visma partner, the brand received a Magento website proposal they couldn’t say no to. 

Read the complete Benum success story here.

Step #4: Determine Your Users’ and Customers’ Needs

Running an online store, you must already have an idea of your working team’s needs as well as your customer’s profile. Create a plan of what might be optimized during replatforming: maybe your marketing team will appreciate a new CRM or your accountant might want to change the tax system.

Ask the same questions in relation to the customers: what they do for life, why they use your service (or why they stopped using it), and what they’d recommend changing. You might even send them a short survey asking for feedback and recommendations.

Step #5: Write an RFP

Create a structured document with all the questions you wish to ask the software vendors based on the info obtained in the previous steps. Organize the questions in logically arranged sequences or categories starting from the most general inquiries about an agency to more specific questions about their specifications. 

Quick advice: you might want to put the questions in your RFP in an Excel document or use an RFP ecommerce platform, like Loopio or RFP360, to generate an ecommerce RFP template for you. This way, agencies will answer quicker, and you will have an easy-to-compare spreadsheet.

Step #6: Create a Timeline and Evaluation Criteria

To keep things under control, you’d better set the timeline for your RFP process. Decide on how much time the agencies will have to fill out an RFP, when it should be returned (include the actual date in your B2B ecommerce RFP), and how long the negotiations will last after a successful candidate is shortlisted.

It’s also a good idea to establish some criteria for RFP evaluation. Some of the questions that may guide the scoring are

  • What are the most important aspects we should factor in the assessment?
  • How important is each category (for instance, can we sacrifice ecommerce platform security for the speed of implementation of the solution)?
  • Is pricing a weighted criterion?

A timeline and a scoring table will bring clarity and transparency to the selection process. They will also prevent you from building a piecemeal and let you stay focused on your project goals.

Read more: How to Build an Ecommerce Team: A Best Practices Guide

There’s another article in our blog with tips & tricks to choose the best B2B ecommerce platform. Check it out! Be sure to find more ideas there to include in your RFP evaluation criteria list.
Guides & Advice
The Best B2B Ecommerce Platform: How to Choose the Right Solution For Manufacturers And Wholesalers

Step #7: Identify Potential Partners and Issue an RFP

Research potential partners and agencies ready to implement an ecommerce solution for you. Don’t send an RFP to everyone you find on your way because you’ll only get swamped with responses. Instead, do your homework and come up with a decent list of candidates whose answers you can compare later. Issue an ecommerce RFP with your project name and details, the deadline for submission, and relevant questions for an agency. 

If you’re looking for a perfect Magento project proposal, make sure to send your RFP to us at Elogic. With our portfolio and Adobe Commerce certifications, we have the right talent to fulfill your project needs and dreams.

Step #8: Review Responses

Response evaluation is probably the most important step in the whole RFP process. You’re about to entrust a third party with your project budget and tasks, so you thoroughly review each response in the survey against the backdrop of your business goals, set timeline, and criteria established in the previous steps. Compare the RFP responses apple-to-apple and shortlist 2-4 candidates to continue negotiation with.

Quick tip

On average, an RFP is scored by 4-5 people, and 35% of the cases report a gap in consensus. To optimize the time for review and prevent any misunderstanding, limiting the number of RFP evaluators by section or topic. This way, each stakeholder will evaluate only those aspects they’re proficient in.

Step #9: Make a Choice

In the second round of negotiations, you might actually meet vendors and interview them in person. This way, they will provide you with further answers to the questions not listed in your RFP for the ecommerce website and maybe even present a demo. Discuss the pricing and the terms of agreement, and make a final decision.

Once you’re past an RFP and settle down with an ecommerce agency, you might actually want to tap into writing website specifications. Check out our step-by-step guide on the matter.
Guides & Advice
How To Write an Ecommerce Website Requirements Document: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

Most Common Questions to Be Listed in a Website RFP Template

Apart from your project overview, its description and pricing expectation, the timeline, a B2B ecommerce RFP should include a list of questions towards an ecommerce platform vendor. Organize them in a spreadsheet or in a Word document. You might place a separate scoring column for RFP ecommerce platform vendors to evaluate the answers as you review them.

B2B ecommerce RFP template
B2B ecommerce RFP template

Here are 100+ ideas for your ecommerce RFP template that you might want to ask while facing the platform migration issue.

Disclaimer: The questions below are universal but may vary from one business to another.

Company Overview Questions

  1. What is your company structure and how long have you been in business?
  2. Describe your company products and services.
  3. Share a case study of your clients in our business niche.
  4. How many people do you employ and how many would be working on our project?
  5. What makes your services stand out from the ones of your competitors?

Web Design & Front-End Development

  1. Do you provide any front-end developers & UX designers to work on our project?
  2. Can you migrate the existing design of our website with slight/no changes?
  3. What are the available themes/storefront templates on your ecommerce platform?
  4. Can we preview our product catalog in any theme, without purchasing the theme?
  5. Is your design mobile responsive?
  6. Is there a local development environment to manage code customizations before publication?
  7. Can we install additional apps and plug-ins?
  8. Is a CMS embedded in the solution or should a third-party system be integrated?
  9. Does your ecommerce solution provide multilingual support for our storefront content?
  10. Can the design be customized in a local development environment and edited in-browser?

Hosting Solutions & IT

  1. How is the software hosted (on cloud, on-premise, or through a third party)?
  2. How is the performance of the IT components and capacity of the server monitored?
  3. How many customers share a single instance/server?
  4. How can the software be monitored for performance and availability?
  5. How does your platform maintain scalability (high-load traffic, increased sales, etc.)?
  6. List your uptime results. What uptime did you experience during the last holiday season/Black Friday/summer sales?
  7. What is the average downtime during upgrades and patches?
  8. How often do you backup?
  9. Can the software be scaled to support additional user and API load?
  10. How many servers (dev/test/uat/staging/etc.) does a typical client use to manage the implementation of enhancements?

Security

  1. How is sensitive data encrypted and audited in your solution?
  2. Can you configure security notifications and alerts?
  3. Does your solution provide any built-in security patches?
  4. What are the most common security vulnerabilities of your ecommerce solution and how can they be mitigated?
  5. Is your software PCI-DSS compliant?
  6. Are SSL certificates included?
  7. Do you implement 3D-Secure for online credit and debit card transactions?
  8. What admin roles and permissions are available for users?
  9. Does your solution have an ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification for Information Security Management?
  10. How does your ecommerce software support GDPR compliance?

Products & Categories

  1. What is the maximum number of products/categories your platform can handle?
  2. Is there a limit on the size of the image/video uploaded in a product description?
  3. How product options are managed in your system? Can they be configured?
  4. Do you support digital and physical products?
  5. How does your platform support real-time inventory synchronization across multiple sales channels?
  6. Can you customize related product pages? It is possible to automatically generate them?
  7. Are product reviews built-in or is it a third-party app?
  8. Do products and categories have breadcrumbs?
  9. Does the platform support mega-menus and multi-level category navigation?
  10. How do you support products with multiple variants/configurations (e.g., color, size, length, etc.)?

Ease of Use & Administration

  1. How can we manage product catalogs in your platform?
  2. Can product and price lists be imported/exported in bulk?
  3. Can we manage multiple storefronts from a single account (e.g. sales that come from a website and a social media account)?
  4. Is a drag-and-drop editor available?
  5. How are returns and refunds managed?

Ecommerce Analytics & SEO RFP Template

  1. How SEO-friendly is your platform?
  2. How do you support 301 redirects and broken links?
  3. Is a sitemap included?
  4. Can marketers customize full URLs? Are there any words or symbols that cannot be removed?
  5. Does the platform support rich product descriptions?
  6. Does your software provide out-of-the-box integration to Analytics platforms? Specify which ones.
  7. What out-of-the-box reports and dashboards are available on your platform?
  8. How do you support Google Tag Manager Integration? Can we customize data flow to it?
  9. How is the tax report generated? Does it require third-party integration?
  10. Does the platform allow marketers to analyze how content publishing impacts site traffic?

Payment Gateways & Checkout Process

  1. How many payment gateways does your platform support?
  2. Can you migrate our existing payment gateway to a new platform?
  3. Is single-page, mobile-optimized checkout available?
  4. Can customers check out as a guest?
  5. Can a customer see tax and shipping fees?
  6. How do you support recurring payments and subscription orders?
  7. Can customers save their shopping cart and use it across different devices?
  8. Can customers ship to multiple addresses?
  9. Does your platform allow pre-orders?
  10. How can the customer track their order after checkout?

Marketing

  1. Does the platform support A/B Testing with content & template capabilities?
  2. Are there built-in modules/functions for upselling and cross-selling or do you create them from scratch?
  3. Do you integrate with third-party email marketing services?
  4. Is there a possibility to run category-specific promotions? If yes, is it a native functionality or a third-party integration?
  5. Are coupons and promocodes supported (e.g., unique promo codes, one-time use promo, one-per-customer promo, etc.)?
  6. How are the functionalities of multi-tier and volume pricing implemented?
  7. Does the platform support online and offline gift cards?
  8. How is cart abandonment rate managed? Can we include promotions in abandoned cart emails? 
  9. Can your platform display external social media websites content?
  10. Does your platform provide a built-in, integrated blog or is it a third-party app?
  1. How do we create email subscription forms on the website? How can we integrate a Contact Us form?
  2. Are email templates mobile-optimized?
  3. Does your platform integrate with third-party email marketing apps (e.g. Klaviyo, MailChimp, etc.)?

Social Media Questions

  1. Which social media sales channels are available out-of-the-box?
  2. How can we upload our product catalog to Facebook/Instagram?
  3. Are social media sharing links displayed on blog pages, on PDPs, or after checkout?

Ecommerce Questions About Customer Support

  1. Can we integrate a chatbot on the ecommerce website? If yes, which one would you recommend?
  2. Which CRM does your ecommerce platform support?
  3. Does your platform allow placing an order via phone and displaying it to the customer online in their personal account?
  4. Do you provide dedicated customer support services?

B2B Capabilities

  1. Does your platform support dynamic pricing?
  2. Can you display different catalogs from the same site for B2C and B2B users?
  3. Is it possible to enable bulk ordering and set price limits?
  4. Do our B2B customers have multiple payment options (e.g., paying in installments, subscription payment model, payment in debt, etc.)
  5. Does your platform offer extensive inventory data visible to a customer (including order tracking, shipping information, one-click reordering, quote approvals, etc.)?

Headless Ecommerce & Omnichannel

  1. Which third-party systems can be integrated with your solution via APIs (if any)?
  2. Does your solution allow for a full ecommerce site built using other front-end frameworks, like React? Do you host and manage such projects?
  3. Does your solution allow a headless deployment with enterprise CMS/PIM/ERP/etc?
  4. Is there a centralized view of all our orders across all channels?
  5. Do you support Pinterest buy buttons and Instagram/Facebook marketplaces?

RPF for Ecommerce Website: Wrap-Up

Writing an RFP for an ecommerce website is like setting your rules for competition. You specify the context and clearly articulate your expectations of what it takes to win the game. With a few tips & tricks listed in this article, you should be able to make the RFP process more manageable and less daunting.

If you’re looking forward to any ecommerce development project and already have your RFP in place, be sure to send a copy our way. We’d love to participate in your game and bring our ideas to the table to find a perfect tech solution to your ecommerce issues.

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Ecommerce Website Proposal FAQs

What is an ecommerce RFP?

A Request for Proposal (RFP) is a formal document that consists of a list of questions SaaS companies have to answer for a merchant to select an ecommerce platform and a vendor to implement the solution. An RFP is sent out at the initiation stage of the project management process and serves as a formal document that announces the bidding process between B2B software vendors.

How to write an ecommerce RFP?

Write an ecommerce RFP in seven steps:

  1. Ask yourself why you need replatforming.
  2. Set your goals for a new project.
  3. List your current website integrations and features and identify which ones you wish to preserve and which ones to eliminate.
  4. Determine your users’ and customers’ needs and come up with new solutions to address their problems.
  5. Create a structured document with all the questions you wish to ask the software vendors based on the info obtained in the previous steps.
  6. Set the timeline for the RFP process and the criteria to evaluate the vendors.
  7. Issue an RFP and review responses when the time comes.

What you should consider when reviewing a vendor’s ecommerce RFP?

Consider a vendor’s expertise in managing projects in your business niche, certifications to work with your chosen ecommerce platform, any web development and design issues you want to focus on, and the pricing.

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