Your Free Ecommerce RFP Template + 193 Questions to Ask Before You Migrate
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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 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 easy 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 by 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 192 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. How are you positioned against these competitors?
- What differentiates your commerce offering?
- Please describe your product(s)
- What is the most current version of your product and when was the last release date?
- 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.
- What is your target customer base? (SMB, Mid-market, Enterprise)
- What documented programs are offered to assist your customers in continuous improvement in commerce?
- Do you have an agency partner program?
- Describe the partner training or certification programs (if any).
Site Design, Development and UX Questions
- 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 across devices?
- Do you automatically cache store assets such as images globally to local points of presence?
- 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?
- Do you provide feature upgrades to any themes we purchase?
- How much of the design customization can be done in a local development environment vs in-browser editing?
- Is there a 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?
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.
- How many API calls per second do you support out of the box?
- 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 percent of your customers are on the most recent version of your product?
Important Ecommerce Security + PCI Compliance Questions
- Is the software PCI compliant?
- Does the platform have the ISO/IEC 27001:2013 certification (the gold standard for information security management)?
- 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.
- 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?
- Are merchants on your platform responsible for any type of patching?
- How does your software support GDPR compliance?
APIs and Headless Commerce
- Do you have storefront APIs that allow for a full ecommerce site built using modern front end frameworks like Vue or React? Are you able to host and manage this type of solution?
- Do you have a full suite of API’s that would allow a headless deployment with an Enterprise CMS such as Acquia?
Administration + Ease of Use Questions
- Please describe how we can manage our product catalog within your system.
- How do you import/export catalog and customer data?
- Is there a WYSIWYG editor available?
- Can product and prices lists be imported/exported in bulk?
- Do you provide a staging and preview environment so we can test before launch?
- What admin roles and permissions are available for users?
- What types of reports and analytics are included?
- How do we configure site search rewrites and redirects?
- Can I manage multiple storefronts from a single login?
- Do you provide a CMS for content pages and blogs?
- What SEO capabilities are available in your platform?
- 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?
- Can a CSR complete an order via chat? Screen share to help a customer complete an order?
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 you 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 optimize, single-page checkout supported?
- Can customers pay using Pay with Amazon?
- 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? Is it done natively or with a 3rd party app?
- Are there options for both Authorize & Capture and Authorize Only?
- Can customers save their shopping cart and use across different devices?
- Are tax and shipping estimates provided to customers?
- Can customers ship to multiple addresses?
- How do you support recurring payments and box-of-the-month/subscription orders?
- Do you charge any transaction fees if we want to keep our existing payment gateway?
- Does the platform support shipping from multiple warehouses?
- Can a CSR modify an order prior to shipment?
Marketing + Promotions Questions
- Can we manage marketing promotions and banners separately for each category? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- How extensive are your cart-level discounts and promotions? Is any coding required to set these up? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- How can promotions be limited to specific products? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Is there the ability to run shipping promotions? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Can promotions be scheduled to launch or end at a date and time? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Describe how multi-tier pricing for quantity discounts works. Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Are coupon codes supported? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Can promotions be limited based on customer groups or audience segments? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- How do you support bundled products? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Can the platform handle product exclusions for promotions? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Can bonus products be added to the cart as a result of the cart contents? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Does the platform support online and offline gift cards through the same system? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Is a gift registry (wishlist) supported? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Is gift wrapping an option customers can choose? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- Can gift messaging be added to orders? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- How do you manage abandoned carts? Can we include promotions in abandoned cart emails? Is this native functionality or a 3rd party app?
- How do you support Google Custom Reviews?
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? Are MailChimp, Klaviyo, 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 full URLs be customized? Are there any extraneous words or symbols that cannot be removed?
- 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 the product feed from your platform?
- Do you support Google AMP integration to optimize mobile search results?
Social Media Questions
- Does your product meta data include Open Graph Tags?
- Please describe how we can publish our product catalog to Facebook. Is there an additional cost for this service?
- Are social media sharing links on PDP supported?
- Are social media sharing links displayed post-purchase?
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 changes?
- 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?
- What is your current largest SKU count for a live merchant?
- 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?
- Do you natively support faceted search? If using a 3rd party, what are the impacts on the availability of the site if they go down?
- Can categories be sorted manually in the control panel?
- Can categories be used for private sales?
- Are category filters supported?
- Do categories and 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?
- Describe how import/export of data can be scheduled.
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 catalogs 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 our 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.
- Do you support Instagram marketplace?
- Do you support Pinterest buy buttons?
- How would we manage catalog publishing with specific pricing and product information per channel?
- Can you publish micro-sites from a single store with their own unique inventory?
- Please provide details about your onboarding processes for new clients.
- What is the average timeline for implementation?
- Do you provide training and user documentation for the entire platform?
- 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?
B2B Capabilities Questions
- What type of developer support is available for B2B stores?
- Does BigCommerce support dynamic pricing?
- Can we enable bulk ordering and set price limits?
- What different types of B2B business models do you currently support?
- How do you support price lists?
- Do you support B2B from the same store as your B2C or does it require a subdomain or different set of management tools?
- Can you display different catalogs and pricing from the same site for B2C and B2B users?
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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