You’ve reached the tipping point.
- One last major site outage.
- One bug undetected for months that could have cost you millions (but you thankfully caught!).
- One more feature that will cost way too much and take much too long to build.
- One last peak season losing sleep wondering if the infrastructure will hold this time around.
It’s time to switch ecommerce platforms. It’s time to get it right this time.
It’s time to empower your brand to focus on marketing and selling your goods, not on being technologists just trying to keep your site alive.
It’s time to find the right ecommerce platform fit for your unique business, which means it’s time to issue an RFP.
What is an RFP?
An RFP (Request for Proposal) standardizes your evaluation criteria across the 3-5 select vendors you choose to send it to.
It effectively puts every platform out there on an equal playing field. You are, after all, asking each vendor the same questions. You can then benchmark answers directly against one another –– without any sales chatter to trip you up.
Implied in this is something rather simple:
If you don’t send an RFP, each vendor will likely sell you on what they have –– removing your ability to judge each platform effectively across the business critical requirements of your brand.
RFPs help you minimize the number of platforms you bring into phase 2 of your re-platforming project: platform demo presentations.
Simply by a vendor responding to an RFP, you are clearly shortlisting which solution will work best for your unique requirements, which vendor took the process seriously and which have already committed to winning your business.
But RFPs aren’t easy. They aren’t designed to be.
The questions you want to ask each vendor span internal departments and needs –– and even within those have various prioritizations.
To help you begin this process as easily as possible, my team is giving away the templatized RFP we offer to large merchants we speak with who are just beginning on this journey.
How to Use an RFP
When handing this document off to brands, I typically accompany it with a few best practices to help them navigate the waters. Here’s what I share with them.
The effort a vendor puts into the RFP is also a signal of their commitment to your requirements.
- Pay attention to the quality of responses you get.
- Make sure the platforms you speak with are putting some skin in the game.
In the RFP itself, there is a column of priority. That’s the first column after the question. For that part, be sure to get internal sign off on which aspects are business critical and which others might not be as important.
This will help you to determine the right platform for your needs, and guide the platforms you send the RFP to on which items are the most important to properly explain. Be sure the priorities are set right for each question before you send it off.
Use this as a starting point. Please personalize it to your business requirements.
- There might be migration questions that are not relevant to you and there might be questions missing that might be important to your business.
- Look through each section and confirm that these are your most business critical requirements.
- Be sure the priorities are set right for each question – BEFORE you send it off.
This is an RFP template that helps you to get started. It is definitely best accompanied with a cover letter with further details on pricing needs and services requirements.
Traditionally, this part is done in a Word document, not Excel, and includes business scope, pricing expectations and service requirements.
Here are the 176 questions you’ll want clarity on before you begin to narrow down your ecommerce platform choices when approaching a migration.
Company Overview Questions
- How is your company structured? (Public / Private, Partnership, Joint Venture, Subsidiary, etc.)
- How long has your company been in business?
- Please list your top competitors and their respective market share. What are your key differentiators from competitors?
- Please describe your product(s)
- What is the most current version of your product and when was the last release date?
- Please list all external 3rd party applications your product integrates with
- Please list any formal partnerships you have with other technology vendors
- How many merchants are currently using your software?
- Please provide the size & scope of your top 5 clients. List 3 customers that are similar in size and scope to us.
- How many people do you employ and in how many locations?
- How do you price your application? Describe your license methodology or structure.
Site Design, Development and UX Questions
- Please describe how our team will make storefront design and user experience changes on your platform?
- Do you offer full access to HTML & CSS?
- How is In-browser editing of theme files supported?
- How much control do we have over customizing the checkout experience?
- Please describe Themes/Storefront Templates available for us to select a design from
- Are themes customizable? What can we not customize?
- Local development environment to manage code customizations prior to publishing
- Are themes Standards Compliant?
- Can we preview our product catalog in any theme, without purchasing the theme?
- What 3rd Party Developers/Designers would be available to us?
- Would we have the ability to Install & use Web Fonts?
- Would we have the ability to install additional Plug-Ins or Apps?
- Do you enable Persistent Shopping Cart?
- Where do you store all our images and content?
- How is Geo Targeting implemented?
- How much of the design customizations can be done in a local development environment vs in-browser editing?
- Are your designs Mobile Responsive?
- List all 3rd party programming languages required to make theme changes
- Do you offer Mobile Optimized Checkout out-of-the-box?
- How many template themes are available for us to choose from?
- Do you provide feature upgrades to any themes we purchase?
- Describe the ability to publish storefronts in multiple languages.
IT + Hosting Questions For Ecommerce Providers
- Describe how the software is hosted.
- How do you manage automatic backups? How often do you backup?
- Define your Server Redundancy process
- List your most recent uptime results. What uptime did you experience during the last holiday season?
- How many environments (dev/test/uat/etc) does a typical client use to manage the implementation of enhancements?
- Describe how the software can be monitored (at all tiers) for availability and performance.
- Describe how the software can be scaled to support additional user and API load.
- Describe how high availability and disaster recovery are addressed.
- What controls are used to protect against malicious code?
- How often are upgrades delivered to clients?
- What browsers and devices does the software support?
- Describe how Import/Export of data can be scheduled.
Important Ecommerce Security + PCI Compliance Questions
- Is the software PCI compliant?
- Describe how the software supports federated identity and Single Sign On (SAML/OpenID/OAuth/etc).
- Describe how security roles are defined and what access restrictions can be managed by role.
- Describe how Personally Identifiable Information (PII) such as customer names, addresses, preferences and shopping habits are stored and handled in a secure manner.
- Describe how data access and change is audited.
- Will your employees, contractors or support personnel have access to Client, customer, order or shopping data?
- Describe how security vulnerabilities are identified and mitigated.
- Describe any additional data protection, audit or financial control features of the software.
- Are SSL Certificates included?
Administration + Ease of Use Questions
- Please describe how we can manage our product catalog within your system.
- How do you import/export catalog & customer data?
- Is there a WYSIWYG editor available?
- Do you provide a Drag & Drop Editor?
- Can Product & Price lists be Imported/Exported in bulk?
- Do you provide a Staging & Preview environment so we can test before launch?
- What admin roles & permissions are available for Users?
- What types of reports and analytics are included?
- How do we configure Site Search Rewrites & Redirects?
- Do you provide a CMS for Content Pages & Blogs?
- How much of the store administration can be done from a mobile device?
- Do you provide URL Redirects?
- Do you offer your own POS System or integrate with an existing one? List all POS systems you integrate with.
Customer Service Questions
- How can we segment our customers and members into separate groups?
- Can customers access “Saved Addresses” during the checkout process?
- How can our customers manage and view order history?
- List all order management capabilities
- How can we reorder the products on behalf of a customer?
- Do you support Wish Lists?
- How are refunds/partial refunds managed?
- How do you manage Rewards/Points?
Ecommerce Analytics Questions
- Do you provide a Dashboard with business critical metrics?
- Does your solution offer built-In Analytics or via 3rd party app?
- Is Google Analytics integrated?
- How do you support Google Tag Manager Integration?
- Do you provide analytics and insights for metrics including customer LTV?
- Is there a report for Total Revenue/Sales?
- How can we report on product and merchandising?
- How would be generate a Tax Report?
- What types of shipping and fulfillment reports are available?
- Can we generate a low stock inventory report?
Checkout + Payment Option Questions
- Is mobile optimized, single-page checkout supported?
- Can customers pay using Amazon Pay?
- Can users pay in browser and on mobile with Apple Pay?
- Can Customers Check Out as a Guest?
- Are customers able to use stored credit cards and shipping addresses during checkout?
- Are there options for both Authorize & Capture and Authorize Only?
- Can Customers Save their Shopping Cart?
- Are Tax & Shipping Estimates provided to Customers?
- Can Customers Ship to Multiple Addresses?
- How do you support recurring payments and box-of-the-month orders?
Marketing + Promotions Questions
- Can we manage marketing promotions and banners separately for each category?
- How extensive are your cart-level discounts and promotions? Is any coding required to set these up?
- How can promotions be limited to specific products?
- Is there the ability to run Shipping Promotions?
- Can promotions be scheduled to launch and end at a date and time?
- Describe how multi-tier pricing for quantity discounts works.
- Are coupon codes supported?
- Can promotions be limited based on customer groups or audience segments?
- How do you support bundled products?
- Can the platform handle product exclusions for promotions?
- Can bonus products be added to the cart as a result of the cart contents?
- Does the platform support online and offline Gift Cards cards through the same system?
- Is a gift registry or wishlist supported?
- Is gift wrapping an option customers can choose?
- Can gift messaging be added to orders?
- How do you manage abandoned carts? Can we include offers in abandoned cart emails?
- How do you support Google Trusted Stores?
Email Marketing Questions
- Are Transactional Emails native to the platform? Can these be fully turned off if we want to use an external Email Marketing Automation application?
- Can we integrate with a 3rd Party ESP?
- How are Abandoned Cart emails handled?
- Can we create an email-signup form?
- How can we create a Contact Us form?
- Are Email Templates mobile responsive?
- What 3rd party email applications are integrated? MailChimp and ConstantContact integrations available?
SEO + SEM Questions
- Can product meta-tags be customized?
- How do you support 301 Redirects?
- Are SEO-Friendly URLs auto-generated for products and category pages?
- Can URLs be customized?
- What type of blog management is included in your solution?
- Is a sitemap included?
- Do you support canonical tags?
- What is the process to disallow URLs in robots.txt?
- How can we export product feed from your platform?
- Do you support Google AMP integration to optimize mobile search results?
- Does your product meta data include Open Graph Tags?
- Please describe how we can publish our product catalog to Facebook Shop. Is there an additional cost for this service?
- Are social media sharing links on PDP supported?
- Are social media sharing links displayed post-purchase?
- Can customers or end users login to our storefront using Social Login (Facebook, Amazon, Google, etc)?
- How can we display User Generated Content such as Pinterest or reviews in our store?
Products + Categories Questions
- Can we add multiple images per product? Is there a limit to the number or size of images?
- Do you support SKU level images with image switching on variation selection?
- Is Product Image Zoom enabled by default?
- How easy is it to add video to PDP? Is there a limit on the size and length of videos we can upload?
- Please describe how product options and option sets are managed in your system
- Please describe how variations or options can be configured?
- Is there a quick edit option available to modify stock levels or pricing change?
- Do you support both digital and physical products?
- Is Inventory Management built-in?
- How do you support real-time Inventory sync within multiple channels?
- Can inventory be tracked at variation level?
- Does the shipping system understand and support Dimensional Weight?
- Are Custom Product Attributes supported?
- Can you configure related items?
- Is it possible for related items to be automatically generated?
- Do you allow pre-orders?
- How do you support custom Product Pages? Can these be configured per category?
- Are Product Reviews built-in?
- Is it easy for customers to share products with friends from the PDP?
- Is Site Search predictive?
- Can Categories be sorted manually in the Control Panel?
- Can Categories be used for Private Sales?
- Are Category Filters supported?
- Do Categories & Products have Breadcrumbs?
- Are Page/Product/Category URLs auto-generated?
- How can we customize the product and category level URLs?
- Does the platform support multi-level category navigation?
Ecommerce Questions About Omnichannel
- List all 3rd party marketplaces you are currently integrated with.
- How would we manage catalog publishing with specific pricing and product information per channel?
- Can users check out within Facebook or would they be re-directed to our online store?
- Do you support publishing catalog to eBay? Is it restricted to specific verticals or categories?
- Is there a centralized view of all our orders across all channels?
- Do you support publishing product catalog to Amazon?
- How can we promote our products via Google Shopping?
- Describe your integration to 3rd party channel management applications like Channel Advisor?
- What additional marketplaces do you plan to integrate with in the next 6 months to a year?
- Do you support Pinterest buy buttons?
- Please provide details about your on-boarding processes for new clients.
- Please provide an example of an implementation timeline.
- Do you provide training and user documentation for the entire platform?
- Please describe your support process (including tools) along with standard SLA’s.
- Please describe your change management processes including the system audit logging capabilities.
- How does our historical data (orders, customers, products) migrate to your solution?
- List all Services resources who will be dedicated to our business.
- Provide an example of a QBR or Customer Success Plan you offer your customers
- Do you have extended support hours for supporting an event’s onsite operation?
Ecommerce Questions About Customer Support
- How big is your customer support team and where are they located?
- Please detail your Phone Support offering. Is it available 24/7? Is there an additional cost associated with this service?
- What are your average wait/response times for phone support?
- Is there a priority queue available for urgent and time-sensitive requests?
- Can we get a dedicated Support Representative if needed?
- What ticketing system do you use? How can we track status of our tickets?
- What are your Support SLAs
If you’ve made it this far down the page, you are clearly ready to take a look at a new platform.
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Table of Contents
- What is an RFP?
- How to Use an RFP
- Company Overview Questions
- Site Design, Development and UX Questions
- IT + Hosting Questions For Ecommerce Providers
- Important Ecommerce Security + PCI Compliance Questions
- Administration + Ease of Use Questions
- Customer Service Questions
- Ecommerce Analytics Questions
- Checkout + Payment Option Questions
- Marketing + Promotions Questions
- Email Marketing Questions
- SEO + SEM Questions
- Social Media Questions
- Products + Categories Questions
- Ecommerce Questions About Omnichannel
- Services Questions
- Ecommerce Questions About Customer Support
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