In 2021, retail eCommerce sales around the globe reached $4.9 trillion. This figure is expected to reach a whopping $7.4 trillion by 2025.
If you are looking for a platform to launch an e-store or you already have one but are planning to move to a different platform, an eCommerce RFP will help you collect proposals and find the right agency for your project.
But where do you start?
We’ll share everything you need to know about creating a request for proposal, from the benefits of creating one to what you should include.
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Whether you're creating a B2B eCommerce RFP or a B2C eCommerce RFP, an RFP document will:
Allow you to reach more agencies and choose the one with the expertise you need
Help agencies understand what you are looking for and evaluate whether they have the resources to deliver solutions
Provide you with accurate and transparent quotes for your eCommerce project
How Long Does It Take To Receive eCommerce Proposals?
So, when can you expect your RFP response for the eCommerce project? Depending on different factors, such as the number of vendors you send your RFP to and the type of questions included, the eCommerce RFP process typically takes between six and 12 weeks, including:
RFP planning and creation: Identifying the need for a new platform, determining your eCommerce priorities and preparing the document typically takes between one and three weeks.
RFP administration: Selecting vendors and waiting for them to submit their proposals can take between three and six weeks.
RFP evaluation: Reviewing the proposals, shortlisting vendors, making a decision and notifying the agencies typically takes between one and four weeks.
What To Include In Your RFP For eCommerce Websites?
Typically, an eCommerce RFP is used when you plan to change the platform of your e-store. However, it can also be used if you’re looking for a first-time solution to launch your business.
Here’s what your eCommerce RFP should include:
1. Your Company Background
Providing background information such as your company’s history and core values will help vendors get to know your brand and understand your project.
Having the full context of your project will allow prospective agencies to address your particular project requirements and provide recommendations and suggestions that can benefit your company beyond the project’s scope.
2. Your Project Overview
Depending on the scale of your eCommerce project, list the type of services you are looking for. These might include:
For a website design RFP, outline the requirements and the purpose of your new website such as selling products, educating customers or a combination of both.
For a website redesign RFP, describe your existing website along with the things you would like to keep and those that need to be improved or changed.
For a website development RFP, list your requirements in terms of website speed, navigation and traffic.
3. Your Project Goals
Set specific goals for your eCommerce project. These may include:
Improved user experience
Improved website performance
List at least 4-5 goals and prioritize them in the document so prospective agencies are clear on the “why” behind your project.
4. Your Project Scope
List your current integrations and features.
Outline what you would like to keep and what additional features you’re looking for, such as:
A new CRM
Specify your requirements for the new platform. Group the functionalities you are looking for into three main types: required, preferred or desired.
An example of a required functionality might include the support of international stores while a preferred functionality might be integration with a new CMS.
In addition, specify if you expect the new platform to work on site or be integrated with third-party solutions.
5. Your Current Challenges
Identify the reasons that make switching to a new eCommerce platform necessary, such as:
Poor customer experience
Inability to deliver omnichannel customer experience
Lost sales or downtime
Lack of support for your current solution
Shopping cart abandonment
Explaining your challenges and platform limitations will allow responding agencies to suggest specific solutions to resolve your pain points.
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Establish criteria for evaluating the submitted RFPs to ensure clarity and transparency of the selection process. These may include criteria such as capabilities, technical expertise of the team, pricing or data security. Providing prospective agencies with this criteria upfront will help ensure they respond appropriately to each of your evaluation metrics.
7. Your Budget
Include your budget for the project to ensure transparency and allow prospective agencies to respond appropriately. Specify whether you expect pricing to be broken up per role, per hour, if you prefer working with a fixed time or are inclined to accept a more flexible approach.
If an agency is unable to complete the project within your allotted budget, they should explain why, and offer a revised budget for consideration.
8. Your Schedule
Add a preferred timeline to your RFP to help agencies determine whether they’ll be able to complete your project within the time scope. If your timeline is unreasonable, make sure agencies explain exactly why it’s not possible and offer a revised timeline as a solution.
9. Your Submission Requirements And Deadline
Set your response guidelines for agencies in terms of:
Document format or style
Provision of a hard copy along with a digital version
Include your contract terms and conditions and list contact information so agencies know where to send proposals when they’re complete.
Set a final deadline for responses and also add a decision date so agencies know when they’ll hear from you.
Interview Questions For Prospective Agencies
Once you receive submissions from prospective agencies, the next step is to evaluate them and narrow them down. Choose your top contenders and reach out to the agencies to set up an interview.
A key aspect of any partnership is the people who you will be working with, so an interview is a crucial step in the selection process.
Before the interview, write down questions you want to ask your potential partners. Your questions might include platform capabilities in terms of design and development, security, hosting, payment gateways, marketing, analytics, customer support and more.
Categorize your questions and keep notes during the interview to ensure all of your questions are answered. Examples of questions you might ask include:
Is your design solution mobile-responsive?
Do you have a local development environment to manage and test code customizations before publishing?
What is the way to support products with multiple configurations (in terms of size, color, etc.)?
Does the new solution have an ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification for Information Security Management?
Are built-in security patches provided with the new solution?
How is your eCommerce solution hosted (on premise, through a third-party, on cloud)?
Can the existing payment gateway be migrated to the new platform?
Does your solution support shipping from multiple warehouses?
Does your platform support Google Custom Reviews?
Who will be working on this project and what kind of experience do they have?
Do you have a portfolio of similar projects and solutions?
How do you measure success?
Can my project be completed within my desired timeframe and within my allocated budget?
Do you have any additional recommendations for my project?
A thorough interview with each prospective agency will help you find and choose the right agency for your eCommerce project.
Wrapping Up On eCommerce Website Proposal
Choosing the eCommerce platform that meets your business goals and customers’ expectations is crucial to attract traffic, provide an excellent user experience and boost conversion.
An eCommerce RFP can help you outline the details of your project and find prospective agencies that can provide you with an encompassing solution.
Make sure that your eCommerce RFP contains your:
Submission requirements and deadline
After you receive submissions from prospective agencies, review each one and narrow down your top contenders. Then, set up an interview with each agency to meet the people who will work on your project and get answers to all of your remaining questions, from questions about the team’s experience to technical details about their eCommerce solution.
The interview an important step in the process and will ultimately help you make a decision about which agency to partner with for your eCommerce project.
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