Writing eCommerce RFP Template for B2B Explained!

eCommerce RFP Template

What are your biggest risks when it comes to procuring B2B vendors? Most organizations find themselves in great uncertainties during the post-pandemic period, marked by volatility in supply chains.

Today, more than 35% of businesses rely on purchases through digital channels. Only 1/3 of these businesses believe that digital vendors have the capacity to match their expectations. 

The other 2/3 highlights various challenges they experience with new digital vendors, including slow and inefficient responses, inconsistent pricing, and lack of transparency.

As a B2B operator, the costs of doing business while experiencing these challenges can be pretty overwhelming. That’s where an eCommerce RFP template comes to save the day. 

A well-written and thought-out RFP has the potential to generate high-quality responses, saving you time when handpicking vendors. You’ll end up with interesting proposals and resourceful partnerships that complement your business’ goals, policies, and vision. In return, you get to experience quality supply chain consistency, translating to more revenues.

If poorly written, your RPF will confuse bidders and trigger vendors to undermine your startup’s reputation. 

Fortunately, creating a superb RFP is not a big hassle if you get it right from the word go. Following a clear structure featuring all elements of RFP will help you nail it. Here is a quick guide. 

RFP: Definition

An RFP (request for proposal) document enables a B2B venture to evaluate vendors during startup or re-platforming and eventually secure bids.

It levels the playground for all potential vendors, making it easy to identify the best company that can match your business needs and expectations. If you’re going to secure bids from the best vendors, crafting concise and relevant content for your RFP document should be a priority. 

In reality, this requires a lot of work, more than it seems. The Association of Proposal Management Professionals in the US notes that its members spend more than 40 hours every week drafting and sending RFPs. What’s more, 45% of these professionals have to juggle secondary duties such as marketing and writing RFPs. At the end of it, you give in what it takes for you to win. 

Who Benefits From this RFP Guide?

Whether you’re launching, rebranding, or re-platforming your B2B venture, knowing the basics of writing a winning RPF is essential for long-term growth and profitability in as far as you’re going to procure goods and services from eCommerce vendors.

Responses from RFP will help you highlight discrepancies and build consensus internally with your team when deciding on vendors to partner with.

Our guide is insightful for in-house B2B procurement teams as well as agencies researching potential vendors on behalf of their clients. Other groups that benefit from this guide include:

  • Chief executive officers
  • IT managers and executives
  • Startup owners
  • Business development and digitization consultants
  • Online eCommerce managers

RFP Essentials: The Process of Writing RFP Template

Writing a well-thought RFP starts with the person doing the job. They have to be knowledgeable about the matter at hand and provide as many details as possible to help vendors understand your B2B venture well.

On top of that, they must follow the right process to ensure the final draft is consistent with your procurement needs and has a greater potential to achieve your business goals. 

Your RFP writing process should highlight the following components:

Vendor Profile Questionnaire

It will help if you know the vendor you’re likely to get into business with, in detail, even before contacting them. This gives you a better insight into their background, including vision, mission, and business policies. This information will help you determine whether they can match the potential you expect once you open the supply chains. 

Sections to include in the vendor profile questionnaire should touch on the general information, including company name, address, phone, and website. You also want to know about their contact information, ownership structure and their number of employees.   

B2B eCommerce Feature List

This section contains the list of features you might want to inquire about from potential vendors. For example, you want to know about the type of system they use for catalogue management.

You want to know their onboarding process for new customers, in this case, your B2B venture. Other issues to include in this section are:

  • The name of their product and whether it’s an open-source or proprietary software
  • How their solution mitigates GDPR requirements
  • What differentiates their product from other market vendors
  • Implementation timeline
  • Account hierarchies
  • Checkout flows 

Technical Questionnaire

The technical questionnaire will likely be the longest part of your RFP because it touches bases that directly affect your B2B startup.

For instance, you want to know the security technologies used by the vendors and whether they guarantee long-term reliability. You also want to know whether their IT infrastructure can support the framework of doing business with them. 

Other questions to include about technicalities should touch on:

  • Whether the vendor’s platform is responsive/ mobile-friendly
  • Whether their platform support web integration for third-party services such as inventory management tools 
  • Their preferred options for online payments and whether they are secure

Licensing and Pricing Questionnaire

Digital vendors usually have hidden fees that they never raise at the RFP stage. However, your B2B venture needs clarity before committing to any supply contract.

Be blatant with pricing questions, asking them to describe the criteria of pricing their products and services. For instance, do they have a fixed rate pricing? How about % discount levels on bulk orders? 

You also want to have a better insight into their licensing requirements. Ask pertinent questions that point to that. 

Tips for Creating a Winning RFP for Your B2B Startup

The main goal of an RFP is to determine whether the vendor will help meet your business needs and goals. Your questions should be objective and geared towards elaborating your expectations. If the vendor can’t answer that, they are not what you need.  

It’s imperative to note that there are varying B2B vendor breeds, depending on their approach and background. However, most vendors often give the same approach to their solutions, skewed towards facilitating sales, marketing, and service. 

Watch out for approaches that suit your business needs and goals from the start before shortlisting potential vendors. Your options can include an experience-driven vendor, headless commerce, a core commerce platform, and point solutions. 

After that, employ the following tips when preparing questions or requirements for your RFP.

01. Identify Your Major User Personas

Intuitive user experience is what drives many eCommerce platforms. You should customize your RFP to layout the ideal experience you envision for your business by persona.

Discuss with your stakeholders to determine critical personas and map them into specific questions. That way, you’ll get perfect responses and eliminate vendors that try to sell features your business doesn’t need. 

Some user personas for B2B vendors include:

  • Customer user portals- Does the vendor’s platform support subscriptions management? What about shipment tracking and order history access?
  • Public site users- New prospects discover your business through public forums such as social media. Inquire about the onboarding process for these people and whether the vendor’s platform supports guest checkout.
  • Sales representatives- You might use salespeople to create and approve orders on your behalf. Inquire about the process of tracking their KPIs and whether they can file sales reports on a dashboard. 

02. Clarify Your Product Management Needs

Besides catering to the customer needs, you also want to have a good experience managing your products on the vendor’s platform.

In your RFP, include requirements that support product data feeds creation and syndication to online channels. You can also inquire whether the vendor’s platform supports multiple units of measurements. 

03. What Do You Need in Terms of Content Management and Marketing?

Efficient content management is critical if you’re going to market your B2B venture successfully. Include the following questions or requirements in your RFP:

  • Ability to scale sites or create new ones swiftly
  • Integrated content management system with support for content pages
  • Customizable landing pages
  •  Multilanguage capabilities
  • Integrated digital asset management system

04. Account Management

Account management requirements should reflect the needs of your business and the customer. For instance, does the vendor offer a seamless account registration process? How about password reset and subscription management processes? Other issues to highlight in your RPF regarding account management include:

  • Ability to save multiple billing addresses
  • Access to quotes and invoices
  • Custom roles for buying teams

05. Other Integrations

Include inquiries about these integrations in your RFP:

  • Inventory management system
  • Tax management system
  • Live chatbots
  • Marketing automation system
  • Warehouse management system 

Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a B2B RFP

  • Creating inadequate profiles for prospective vendors
  • Asking questions that trigger generalized responses
  • Skipping vital technical requirements
  • Problem-driven RFP content

Takeaway: Be Specific and Clarify Your Expectations

Vendors will hardly accept a dubious or unclear RFP, let alone responding to it. They go through every question and ask for clarity where possible before forwarding the document to you.

That’s why it’s imperative to make it easy for them and get the responses that will enable you to make an informed decision. The conciseness of your RFP is a strong precursor for a successful partnership now and in the future. The clearer you are, the more likely you’ll achieve your set goals. 

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