A Step-By-Step Guide To eCommerce RFP [+ Free Template]

A Step-By-Step Guide To eCommerce RFP [+ Free Template]
Article by DesignRush DesignRush
Last Updated: April 15, 2022
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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. We'll also share an example of what an eCommerce RFP template should contain.

We also provide a free, downloadable eCommerce development RFP template that you can use for your project.

Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here
Agency description goes here

What Is An eCommerce RFP?

An eCommerce Request for Proposal (RFP) is a document that outlines the scope and requirements of your eCommerce project. The purpose of an RFP is to find a vendor for your project.

You can use a Request for Information (RFI) to gather information about prospective agencies before issuing an RFP.

Depending on your needs, your eCommerce RFP may focus on:

Why Do You Need An eCommerce RFP?

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.
ecommerce-rfp-shopping-cart
The time to receive eCommerce proposals can range between six and 12 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:

  • Website design
  • Website redesign
  • Website development

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:

  • Cost reduction
  • 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
  • Improved cybersecurity
  • Payment gateways
  • Analytics tools
  • Reporting options

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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6. Your Evaluation Metrics And Criteria

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:

  • Length
  • Details provided
  • 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.

procurement team writing an ecommerce rfp
Preparing and issuing a concise RFP allows you to collect proposals and find the desired solutions 

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:

  1. Is your design solution mobile-responsive?
  2. Do you have a local development environment to manage and test code customizations before publishing?
  3. What is the way to support products with multiple configurations (in terms of size, color, etc.)?
  4. Does the new solution have an ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification for Information Security Management?
  5. Does the solution include Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) certificates?
  6. Are built-in security patches provided with the new solution?
  7. How is your eCommerce solution hosted (on premise, through a third-party, on cloud)?
  8. Can the existing payment gateway be migrated to the new platform?
  9. Does your solution support shipping from multiple warehouses?
  10. Does your platform support Google Custom Reviews?
  11. Who will be working on this project and what kind of experience do they have?
  12. Do you have a portfolio of similar projects and solutions?
  13. How do you measure success?
  14. Can my project be completed within my desired timeframe and within my allocated budget?
  15. 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.

eCommerce RFP Template

eCommerce RFP template is useful for creating your own request for proposal from scratch, because it already contains all the essential fields and questions that just need filling out by the agency.

You can also download your copy of a free eCommerce RFP template to the right on this page.

Here is an example of what a well-rounded B2B eCommerce RFP template should contain:

Our Company

Project Description

Basic Goals

Dates and Timeline

Budget

Our Competitors

Functionality

Shopping Cart

Technology / Programming Language Requirements

Shipping

Payment Gateway

Custom Features and Integrations

Support & Maintenance

What We Need From You

  • Team overview and office location
  • Project scope and custom functionality
  • Shopping cart selection or suggestions
  • Content management system capabilities and customizations
  • Your development and account management process overview
  • Search marketing details
  • Support and maintenance policy
  • Hosting information or recommendations
  • Payment and pricing structure
  • Project timeline
  • Agreement and / or contract

The Best eCommerce Agencies to Send an RFP to in 2022

1. Vocso

  • Location: Orange, CA
  • Average Hourly Rate: Inquire
  • Expertise: eCommerce, Web Development, Digital Marketing, Mobile App Development, UX Design...

Vocso is a certified digital agency providing 360-degree digital services helping their clients outperform their competitors with specialized data-tested strategy for better ranking and clicks leading up to 97% conversion. 

With unmatched transparency, results-driven process and a proven track record by a skilled in-house team, Vocso provides regular communication to their clients, as well as transparent reporting on every step of their creative process and product output.

Their clients include Litigation Monk, Okinawa, Ventorio and Photo Becho.

2. Net Magnet

  • Location: Budějovická 121, Český Krumlov, 38101, Czech Republic
  • Average Hourly Rate: $45/hr
  • Expertise: Graphic Design, Responsive Web Design, Web Design, eCommerce Development, Website Development, UI/UX Design, Conversion Rate Optimization, SEO, PPC.

From custom-built websites, online marketing and mobile app development to conversion rate optimization and eCommerce development – Net Magnet has you totally covered when it comes to launching your online sales.

First founded in 2013, Net Magnet has made it its mission to provide businesses with high-quality services and products that will make them stand out from the crowd. And with their focus placed solidly on a thorough analysis of their clients’ needs, creating human-centered designs, driving high traffic to your site and offering world-class services, you simply cannot go wrong when opting for Net Magnet as your go-to eCommerce Agency.

3. Sandcastle Web Design & Development

  • Location: 1930 6th Avenue South, Suite 303, Seattle, Washington 98134, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $125/hr
  • Expertise: eCommerce Development, Responsive Website Design, Web Design, Mobile App Development...

Sandcastle is a full-service web design and development company working with a wide variety of businesses, from Fortune 1000 companies to entrepreneurial start-ups. They focus on crafting solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of any business, which may include: third-party integrations, mobile apps and tools, custom e-commerce logic and order processing, and unique (but appropriate) user interfaces.

Their proven design process focuses on your communication goals, brand guidelines, target audience, and sales objectives to produce a custom website matching your specific needs. They offer e-commerce solutions that support any business objectives, drive sales, and offer the flexibility to customize the solution to meet clients' requirements.

4. Five Star Commerce

  • Location: 42 North University Avenue, Suite 205, Provo, Utah 84604, United States
  • Average Hourly Rate: $80
  • Expertise: eCommerce Development, Amazon Marketing, SEO, PPC...

Five Star Commerce provides on-demand marketing services for the Amazon and Walmart marketplaces. The agency's team members are located in their physical office in Provo, Utah. Their flexible model allows them to customize how they work with clients and for their direct needs.

Whether that means managing the clients' whole Amazon and/or Walmart selling accounts, managing certain parts, training team members, or being on-call when they need help, Five Star Commerce (Amazon Advertising Partner and A+ rated & accredited from the Better Business Bureau) is there for any company in any industry.

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:

  • Company background
  • Project overview
  • Project goals
  • Project scope
  • Current challenges
  • Evaluation criteria
  • Budget
  • Schedule
  • 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.

Get connected with the right eCommerce agency for your project.
GET STARTED
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