Contact us

3 Secrets to Developing a Killer E-commerce RFP

Jan 03, 2022

If you want your new e-commerce platform to deliver big business benefits, then you need to lay the right groundwork.

The Request for Proposal (RFP) process can be intimidating, maybe even more so when it comes to e-commerce. It can definitely take a lot of time and energy.

But it’s absolutely necessary if you want to avoid being stuck with technology that isn’t suited to your needs. Or, just as bad, getting trapped working with vendors who do not understand your business.

If you do your homework, plan and set objectives at the RFP stage, then you won’t be stuck dealing with the consequences of having the wrong e-commerce platform.

Remember that you’re looking to find an e-commerce platform that can support your growth for the next five years or more. Getting your e-commerce RFP wrong can be a waste of time and money, but it can also set you back in achieving your corporate goals.

To help you avoid this, we’ve come up with three secrets to developing an e-commerce RFP that will aid your success.


1. Identify Your E-Commerce Goals Before Starting Your RFP

>Developing an e-commerce RFP starts with identifying your business goals. 

A good way to do this is to take your corporate goals – for example, keeping up a growth pace of X% year-over-year with a margin no less than Y% – and consider how your e-commerce offering contributes to them.

Your e-commerce goals might be to decrease returns, reduce reliance on your call center through self-serve channels or optimize your quote-to-cash process. You need to make sure that they are as measurable as possible – for example, improving conversions by 15% or increasing e-commerce traffic by 25%.

By understanding what your aspirations are and the timeline for delivering them, you can construct an e-commerce RFP that will get vendors to demonstrate how you can achieve your goals.

2. Look Internally and Externally at Your E-Commerce Organization

A well thought out e-commerce RFP process needs to take both an internal and external perspective.

Looking internally will ensure that you have a clear view of your organization and stakeholders. 

By conducting an inventory of all your systems, business processes, and examining how these fit together, you can understand what you need from an e-commerce platform. Bear in mind that your chosen solution needs to align with your technical roadmap and how your website’s needs might change in the next few years.

It’s also vital that you look externally to ensure you have a thorough understanding of your end consumer.

You can use the customer data you already have to create high-level persona profiles. This includes demographics, lifestyles, expectations, ways of engaging with your brand and so on. A customer journey mapping exercise will help you to understand key touchpoints and how to drive traffic between channels.

Again, it’s important to consider how your customer base or the channels you sell through may change in the near future. With this thorough customer understanding you’ll be able to develop an RFP to find the e-commerce platform and vendor that truly helps you serve your customers – today and tomorrow.


3. Always Be Specific in Your E-Commerce Needs

It can be easy to end up creating a checklist of desired e-commerce capabilities and features for your RFP vendors. 

While you may find this useful, retailers often fall into the trap of being too open-ended or too general when listing what they want. 

If a vendor can simply reply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a request, few are likely to say ‘no’ given that they’re in competition for your business. Yet, they may not be able to deliver what you really need. Being specific with your demands will be much more likely to get you what you want.

While you may find this useful, retailers often fall into the trap of being too open-ended or too general when listing what they want.

If you consider that all major e-commerce platforms can deliver most of the key features you might need, what becomes important is how what they offer meets your specific business needs. 

One way to establish this is to build questions around real-life scenarios in your business that highlight your goals or challenges. Vendors will then respond with recommended approaches and show how they can deliver the best outcomes for you.

By first understanding your business goals, and then understanding the internal and external realities of your organization, you’ll be able to craft an e-commerce RFP that addresses the specific needs of your business. 

Get more top tips on the e-commerce RFP process with our new white paper on how to develop a killer e-commerce RFP. Download your copy now to get the most out of your RFP and take your e-commerce business to the next level.