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Find Your Perfect Vendor: 4 Steps to Craft a Comprehensive ECommerce RFP (+ Free Template)

min read

published on

April 18, 2024

B2B eCommerce is a fantastic way to reach new customers, expand your business internationally, and diversify your income. But shifting to eCommerce is a big move, and you need the right partner to make it work. With the wrong eCommerce vendor, you can miss out on sales opportunities and run into costly issues.

That is why we have put together this guide to help you choose the perfect eCommerce vendor for your online B2B sales process. Below, we walk you through crafting an eCommerce request for proposal (RFP) and provide an RFP sample template to kickstart your journey.

Before we dive in, let’s take a look at the most important things you need to know.

Short on time? Here are the key takeaways

  • A B2B eCommerce RFP helps you find the right software vendor when you are switching to B2B eCommerce for the first time or moving from your current platform.
  • Start by defining your goals and establishing a timeline for completing your RFP (which can take several months).
  • Your RFP should include a scope of work, technical and functional requirements, integration requirements, budget information, and more. Our template will help you cover all of these details.
  • Once your RFP is ready, you can send it straight to vendors or share it on industry forums and at conferences.

With that out of the way, let's get into the nitty-gritty — starting with why you need an eCommerce RFP in the first place!

Why do you need an eCommerce RFP for your B2B business?

There are two key times to consider distributing a B2B eCommerce RFP: when you are looking for a new eCommerce platform and when you want to switch from your existing platform to a new one, otherwise known as replatforming.

New B2B eCommerce solution

Writing an RFP for a new eCommerce platform helps you:

  • Assess your business’s current eCommerce needs and growth plans
  • Ensure your business goals align with potential eCommerce vendors
  • Reduce risks such as choosing an eCommerce platform that is inadequate for your needs
  • Engage internal stakeholders — such as your IT, marketing, and sales teams — to make sure everyone is on the same page
  • Evaluate a vendor’s capacity and capabilities and see whether they can be a strategic partner for your business
  • Set your budget and encourage vendors to offer competitive terms for your eCommerce implementation


If you are switching from your current eCommerce platform to a new one, writing an RFP enables you to:

  • Pinpoint shortcomings in your current platform and outline the improvements you want to see in a new solution
  • Specify the importance of data migration and integration capabilities when comparing vendors
  • Compare the total cost of ownership of your current platform versus potential growth with new solutions
  • Establish expectations for vendor support, training, and ongoing development

Step 1: Define your goals

The first step in creating an RFP is to outline the goals and timeline for your eCommerce rollout.


The goals you want to achieve with an eCommerce platform set the stage for your entire RFP process. Here are some goals you will want to define:

  • Strategic goals, such as expanding into new markets, increasing sales to existing customers, offering a broader variety of products, improving your B2B sales experience, or reducing your B2B churn rate.
  • Operational goals, such as streamlining your B2B sales cycle, speeding up order fulfillment, or lowering fulfillment costs.
  • Technical goals, which can include setting up specific integrations or meeting data security standards.
  • Sustainability goals, such as reducing your business’s carbon footprint — for example, by minimizing paperwork or adopting eco-friendly practices in your fulfilment process.

Step 2: Establish a timeline

The RFP process can take several months from start to finish. After that, it might take a few more months for you and your vendor to get your new eCommerce solution up and running.

Since this is a lengthy process, it is important to be realistic with your expectations. 

Here is what to expect for the RFP process:

  • RFP development (1-3 weeks): This phase is all about defining your goals and drafting your RFP.
  • RFP distribution (3-6 weeks): Once your RFP is ready, you will need to decide which vendors to send it to and give them time to prepare proposals.
  • Proposal evaluation (1-3 weeks): Once your RFP deadline has passed, you can evaluate proposals and create a shortlist of vendors to negotiate with.

Expert advice: In your RFP, specify your preferred timeline for implementation. You can also ask vendors about their usual turnaround times. 

Implementation time can vary greatly based on how complex your project is; timelines up to a year are fairly common. But here at DJUST, we pride ourselves on implementing projects in an average of four months.

Step 3: Draft the RFP

Now, it is time to draft an eCommerce platform RFP. To give you a head start, we have created an eCommerce RFP template that explains everything you should include.

Introduction and background

Kick off your RFP with an introduction section that gives vendors a snapshot of your business and what you are looking for. 

Here is what to include:

  • Company overview: Provide a brief description of your business, including the markets you serve and your company’s core values.
  • Project purpose: Briefly explain why you are seeking a new eCommerce platform. Specify if it is to replace an existing solution or part of a strategic shift in your business. Also, remember to highlight the goals you defined in Step 1.
  • Project timeline: Offer a brief overview of the project timeline. (You will cover this in more detail later in the RFP.)

Scope of work

Next, briefly outline what you require from a B2B eCommerce solution. You will go into more depth on these points later, but here, make sure to cover:

  • Must-have B2B eCommerce features
  • Required integrations for your existing business software
  • Expectations for support and training
  • Expectations for future development and scalability

Technical requirements

Here, you build on your scope of work by outlining the technical specifications of your desired eCommerce platform. Make sure to mention:

  • Whether you prefer a cloud-based or on-premise solution
  • Whether you need headless architecture or a different kind of back-end
  • If you need a mobile-friendly back-end
  • Whether you need to migrate data from an existing eCommerce platform
  • Integrations you need with existing systems, such as CRM (customer relationship management) or ERP (enterprise resource planning) software
  • Integrations you need with existing B2B sales channels
  • Performance standards you expect, such as page load times or transaction speeds
  • Security measures you need for employees and customers

Expert advice: We recommend requesting a cloud-based or software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution with headless architecture in your RFP. 

SaaS eCommerce platforms can scale easily and often get updated with new features. Plus, since the vendor handles software maintenance, you can focus on growing your business.

As for headless architecture, this enables you to host multiple storefronts for different customers or markets — crucial for success in B2B. All your storefronts are connected to the same back-end platform, making it easy to manage stock, orders, and more.

Functional requirements

Next, provide a detailed list of the features your B2B eCommerce platform must have. (You will have already outlined these in the scope of work section.) 

Here are the features and functionalities to consider:

  • Product catalog management
  • Support for multiple business verticals
  • Online ordering
  • Order processing
  • Customer self-service portals
  • Personalized pricing
  • Bulk ordering
  • Approval workflows
  • Reporting and analytics tools
  • Payment gateway integrations
  • Shipping integrations
  • Account management
  • Inventory management
  • Discounts
  • Customer segmentation

Expert advice: Prioritize your customers’ needs when defining requirements. Features like real-time order tracking, support for various payment methods, and one-click re-ordering will help keep customers happy.

User experience (UX) requirements

In this section, describe the user experience you want for your sales team, fulfillment staff, and customers. You can discuss:

  • Navigation requirements
  • Account setup and management
  • Product search and filtering options
  • Mobile-responsiveness
  • Accessibility considerations

If you are migrating from an existing eCommerce platform, it can be helpful to give specific examples of what you like and dislike about your current platform’s user experience. You might also want to analyze your competitors’ eCommerce storefronts to see what you admire or think could be better for users.

Integration requirements

Here, specify your requirements around integrating with existing software systems, such as CRM, ERP, inventory management, accounting, and other tools. Provide a list of the tools your business currently uses and highlight any data that must be shared with your eCommerce platform.

Where possible, include specifics about how data should be shared and any API requirements — for example, whether you need real-time syncing between your CRM and eCommerce platform or batch updates at set intervals. Including these specifics can get your new platform up and running faster. 

Data and security requirements

Next, identify your requirements for data encryption and platform security. 

Think about who should have access to what (which you can control through role-based access), adding extra layers of security (such as multi-factor authentication), and making it easier for users to log in (with single sign-on).

Also, consider requiring vendors to have a solid information security certification. Also, ask that they include SSL certificates for data protection.

If your business must comply with specific privacy regulations — such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) — make sure to mention that, too.

Performance and scalability

Here, spell out how well you expect the platform to perform regarding transaction processing speeds and the ability to handle large traffic volumes.

Vendor qualifications and experience

After that, share what qualifications, experience, and credentials you expect from potential vendors. 

You might want to ask vendors about their track record in delivering B2B eCommerce solutions and request they provide examples or client feedback in their proposals. You can also ask about other businesses they serve in your industry.

Project timeline and deliverables

In this section, you will go into detail about your desired timeline for implementation, with key dates for all milestones. 

You should also list the expected deliverables for the project — including not only the eCommerce platform but also any ongoing support, training, and maintenance requirements.

Budget and pricing structure

Here, clearly state your project budget and any constraints you have that could impact vendors’ proposals for your eCommerce website. 

If you prefer a specific pricing model, such as subscription-based pricing or per-transaction fees, specify that as well.

It is also a good idea to ask vendors to state whether they have additional costs for ongoing support or future integration requests.

Evaluation criteria and selection process

Next, explain the criteria you will use to evaluate the eCommerce site proposals you get. 

You might look at:

  • How well a vendor meets your technical and functional needs
  • The vendor’s cost-effectiveness
  • The vendor’s track record and quality
  • How well the vendor’s proposed solution aligns with your goals
  • Their implementation timeline

Remember to set a deadline for proposal submissions and tell shortlisted vendors when they can expect to hear back from you. Also, note whether you have specific needs for additional presentations, such as an in-person demonstration.

Terms and conditions

In this second-to-last section, you will include any legal and contractual requirements that your selected vendor must agree to. These can include indemnification clauses, agreements about intellectual property rights, termination clauses, and confidentiality agreements.

Contact information

Finally, provide contact details for RFP questions and proposal submissions. Include the name, title, email address, and phone number of the primary point of contact for your RFP process.

Expert advice: The more detailed your RFP is, the better your vendor selection process will go. 

If you are not up-to-date with all the eCommerce options out there and are unsure what features you need, begin by explaining what is not working with your current system. This will give vendors enough context to have their teams ask the right questions to better understand your needs and what features of theirs might help.

Step 4: Distribute your RFP

Once your RFP is finished, share it with vendors so they can start working on their proposals.

There are three main ways to distribute your RFP:

  • Contact vendors directly. If you already have some vendors in mind, send your RFP straight to them. This is a good way to get proposals from vendors you are keen to work with.
  • Use RFP platforms and industry forums. Share your RFP on industry forums such as Shopify Forum and Reddit’s r/ecommerce subreddit to gather proposals from a wider range of vendors. You can also share it on forums specific to your business’s industry.
  • Advertise in trade publications and at industry events. To attract even more vendors, put your RFP in trade magazines or mention it at industry events. Be sure to add a brief summary of your RFP when you advertise it this way.

The bottom line

Writing an RFP for a B2B eCommerce platform is a key step if you want to establish or enhance your business’s online presence. 

To get proposals that fit your needs, clearly define your goals, outline the project scope, lay out your timeline for implementation, and list the technical details you need from your eCommerce solution. 

Once your RFP is ready, you can send it directly to vendors or share it through various industry outlets to start attracting proposals.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does RFP mean?

RFP stands for request for proposal. It is a document you create that describes the project you want a vendor to complete for your business. Vendors can reply to an RFP with proposals for you to evaluate.

What is a request for proposal?

A request for proposal (RFP) is a formal document that your business issues to solicit proposals for a project from potential vendors. It outlines the project’s requirements, your budget, and how you will select your vendor, among other information.

What are the key elements of an eCommerce RFP?

Key elements of an eCommerce RFP include an introduction and background, project scope, technical and functional requirements, integration requirements, vendor qualifications, budget and pricing details, and submission guidelines.

About the author
Arnaud Rihiant
Founder & CEO @ DJUST

Expert in topics on B2B, eCommerce, market trends, business strategy

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