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Ecommerce RFP Template + Top Questions To Ask (2024)

Ecommerce RFP Template + Top Questions To Ask (2024)

Replatforming can be a daunting decision if you’re ready to scale but unsure where to begin. If you’re considering changing to a new ecommerce platform, you’re not alone. Recent data shows that 67% of companies are changing or planning to change their commerce architecture to prepare for the future. 

The investment in replatforming is hefty. You’re considering not just buying the technology itself but also the total cost of ownership to maintain it yearly. That’s why almost all (91%) of surveyed enterprises said a low total cost of ownership (TCO) is important when changing enterprise ecommerce platforms

Ahead, you’ll learn how an ecommerce RFP can help reach your replatforming goals, and how Shopify’s TCO is on average 33% better than that of its competitors*.

What is an ecommerce RFP?

A request for proposal (RFP) is a formal document announcing the bidding process and initial terms. RFPs can be shared publicly or with a select group of vendors.

The goal of issuing an ecommerce RFP is twofold: it helps solidify your intentions and requirements internally, and it will formalize those business objectives in a way that lets you examine and evaluate prospective solutions on your terms. 

Benefits of using an ecommerce RFP

Ecommerce brands create an RFP for the following reasons:

  • To outline replatforming details and expectations: Stakeholders explain the project’s requirements and include details to help vendors understand the scope of the project and the criteria for choosing one. By working with the right vendor, you can get to market faster and more cost-effectively. 

  • To solicit bids from vendors: An RFP asks vendors to present their best offerings. By receiving bids from multiple vendors, you can compare prices and services side-by-side. 

  • To assess vendors: RFPs provide a structured framework for evaluating vendors. They help you compare vendors on the same criteria and find the best fit. 

How to prepare an ecommerce RFP for replatforming

Before using the RFP template itself, we’ve compiled the main questions and concerns you need to consider in a replatforming scenario: business goals, operating costs, and functionality requirements.

It’s crucial during the RFP process to bring together internal stakeholders and external partners with whom you want to continue working to align on three main concerns: why now, total operating costs, and functionality. 

Why now? 

Knowing your why in commerce is powerful—why you created your business, what gaps it fills, and why it needs to grow. When thinking about replatforming, it’s crucial to ask why now. Next to compiling an exhaustive list of must-keep features, tools, and partners, this will likely be your most detailed and crucial question.

A great way to start to understand if you should replatform is by making lists. Jot down your current pain points, frustrations, and limitations. Be sure to have both quantitative and qualitative reasons for those pain points, such as lost sales, increased costs, downtimes, poor customer experience, or low conversion rates or retention.

While it’s important to sketch out a tentative timeline for relaunch, a good sales team will put that together for you and come prepared with an evaluation of the project. Like the saying goes, “A deliverable without a due date never gets done.” 

What sales channels do you use?

Beyond your ecommerce website, list out your various sales channels and their impact, like if you run them through your current platform or through a third-party. Some channels you may consider include: 

  • Mail-order catalogs

  • POS (brick-and-mortar retail)

  • Customer service reps (telephone or email)

  • Social networks

  • Marketplaces

  • Comparison shopping platforms

  • Online communities

Another point to consider: what is your current—or future—approach to wholesale and B2B ecommerce?

What are your replatforming goals?

With your team, rank the following in order of importance and briefly describe the role each objective will play in replatforming:

As you compose your objectives, carefully consider why customers buy from you. If your business goals, customer preferences, and reasons for replatforming aren’t aligned—like investing more in what you’re best at—that can be a recipe for heartache and wasted effort.

Total operating costs

What are your operating costs? 

Be as exhaustive as possible on this front to calculate your total cost of ownership (TCO):

  • Initial costs: design, development, servers, hosting, security, licensing

  • Ongoing costs: design and development (in-house or agency), server, maintenance fees, hosting, security, licensing, CDN, applications

During the sales process with a new platform, expect and demand a total cost of ownership or return on investment exercise. You can check out our TCO calculator to see the total cost you may incur from your initial purchase to the recurring expenses needed to maintain your digital storefront.

???? Shopify’s TCO is on average 33% better than that of its competitors, and up to 36% better. Recent data shows that compared to competing platforms like Adobe Commerce (Magento) and BigCommerce:

  • Shopify’s platform costs are 23% better.

  • Shopify’s operating costs are 19% better.

  • Shopify’s implementation costs are 33% better.

What features and integrations are must-keep but have added costs?

Here is a detailed—but not exhaustive—list of some features that may be must-keeps for your business, and something to include in your TCO: 

  • Payment gateways

  • Retail point-of-sale (POS)

  • Proprietary software

  • Hosting services

  • Front-end frameworks 

  • Digital asset manager 

  • Personalization

  • A/B testing

  • Analytics

  • Pixels

  • Marketing tools (onsite or offsite)

  • Onsite search solution

  • Merchandising software

  • Customer service or CRM

  • Shipping and fulfillment (3PL)

  • Inventory management (IMS)

  • Order management (OMS)

  • Warehousing (WMS)

  • Multichannel or omnichannel enterprise integrations

  • Supply chain management

  • Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

  • Additional solutions (analytics, ratings and reviews, recommendations, etc.)

How do you currently implement content, design, product, and UX changes?

How long does it take to get your content or design needs up on your site? Whether it’s manual labor or an automated process, you need to understand how replatforming can help in these areas to achieve the scale and growth of your business. Briefly describe your operating process—that may include an in-house team of designers and developers, marketing team, ecommerce manager, third-party agency—along with the team sizes and speed of implementation to see the full scope.


What is your current approach to international ecommerce?

List out the countries you sell from and ones you sell to. Consider the legality of selling to certain countries. What about your go-to-market strategy, operations, and product assortment based on each country? Going global is more than just adding multiple currencies and language options to your website: it’s also how you target and customize your messaging based on geography. If you don’t have an international ecommerce strategy yet, note that and consider adding it as a specific business objective above.

Do you have any special customizations or product configurations?

Let’s focus on features that are unique to your business or current platform: 

  • Product builders

  • Pricing structures

  • Recurring shipments

  • Partial returns

  • Data importing and exporting

  • Complex variants

  • Custom onsite search

  • Product rules

  • Upsells

  • Bundle

  • Cross-sells

Free ecommerce RFP template: A 157-point checklist

After you’ve aligned your goals, next consult our free RFP template, which is designed with flexibility to help your business create an ecommerce RFP. You won’t need to address every point, but the template provides an easy-to-use outline you can pick and choose from. Enter your company profile and replatforming needs into the executive summary section. Customize what you need to know in the solutions section.

Sample pages from Ecommerce RFP Checklist and Questionnaire

Get to market faster with Shopify for enterprises

When brands migrate, speed to market is a must-have for 75% of companies. Shopify has that and is the most operationally efficient platform in commerce. With Shopify, you can also develop features that keep you ahead and access a large ecosystem of partners and developers, with enterprise-heavy partners like Accenture, Deloitte, and Ernst & Young.

The best part? You’re not locked into a long contract or monolithic ecommerce architecture where you can’t innovate. If you’re looking for a multitenant SaaS digital commerce platform with a proven track record in DTC, a vast 3P ecosystem, low TCO, and built-in payments, Shopify is the perfect ecommerce solution for your brand.

Ecommerce RFP FAQ

What is an RFP in ecommerce?

In ecommerce, an RFP is a document used by companies to ask vendors for proposals on replatforming projects. Basically, it lays out the project requirements, expectations, and evaluation criteria, so potential vendors can come up with their own solutions.

What should be included in an RFP?

An RFP should cover the project scope, objectives, deliverables, and any technical requirements. It should also include selection criteria, submission guidelines, timelines, and budgets to set clear expectations for vendors.

Who usually writes the RFP?

Writing an RFP is a collaborative process between the company’s procurement and IT departments and any specific departments the ecommerce project may impact, such as legal and compliance or marketing. When multiple departments write the RFP, the vendor can get a better understanding of the project’s scope and requirements. 

*According to research commissioned by Shopify from a leading independent consulting firm to study TCO across major platforms in North America through objective research methods.

This article originally appeared on Shopify Plus and is available here for further discovery.
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