November 15th, 2021 | 4 MIN READ

Next Level RFP for Evaluating an eCommerce Provider

Written by author_profile_images Emily Kathi

Emily Kathi is a Senior Content Marketing Writer at Elastic Path. She writes about product, trends, and all things related to digital commerce.

We’ve all been through the RFP process from vendor to customer. The hours of research and preparation, template creation, and ultimately a fair amount of cutting and pasting. Is a one size fits all approach effective to an RFP when selecting an eCommerce partner? Here’s our take…

Less static, more speed and agility

Traditional RFPs look more like a series of boxes to check; from the must haves to the nice to haves, peppered with timelines, the players involved for approval, pricing, and demos/free trial availability. When choosing an eCommerce partner, this static approach may not be as effective or accurate in evaluating your business needs.

A prolonged process without context around the future needs of your business is antithetical to choosing a good partner (or partners) who play well in the digital commerce sandbox, and who meet your needs, today and as you scale. When we talk about future proofing your eCommerce platform, it’s essential to talk about where you are and where you’re going. While it’s impossible to have a finite level of certainty from an environment so heavily rooted in change, the conversations are vital towards solutions versus outcomes.

Speed is of the essence. You’re looking for implementation in weeks versus months. You need Proof of Concept (POC), and you need it sooner rather than later.

For your consideration: an alternate approach to the RFP

Step 1: Assemble Your Team

Gather the key players from the business and tech side of your team and ask yourselves some key questions:

  • How are you growing the business?
     
  • Who is involved (business teams, tech teams) and what’s in it for them?
     
  • What are your revenue goals?
     
  • What is your business model or models?
     
  • What is your digital maturity?
     

Need help evaluating eCommerce Providers?

Connect with an Elastic Path expert to answer all of your questions, set up a demo, access a free trial, or discuss pricing options.

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Low – You’re new to digital commerce with little to no tech support in house with no intention of bringing in a team currently. You see the benefit of an eCommerce solution but don’t see it as integral to the here and now of your business. Your ideal fit from a provider is a more out-of-the-box platform like Shopify.

Medium – If you have marketers, merchandizers, and a tech team in house, or hired through an SI, to execute and manage your platform you most likely fall into this category. You’re looking for low risk, simplified solutions, and you understand the importance of digital commerce to your business. Elastic Path offers customizable options to fit where you currently are on the eCommerce journey and where you’re going.

High – If you have a dedicated team in house where you’ve already adopted or are looking to adopt a development operations methodology, you’re in the high maturity category. You aspire to be an innovator and leverage the newest technology to gain a competitive advantage in the market. Elastic Path offers a headless, API-first, multi-vendor commerce platform ideal for your needs now and as you grow.

Step 2: Initial Research

When evaluating providers, look at some key factors as you comparison shop:

  • How does the provider stack up against others?
     
  • What are their values and mission as a company?
     
  • What are their business capabilities?
     
  • Who are their partner vendors?
     
  • Who are their customers? What pain points has this provider solved for them?

Step 3: Initiate the Conversation

When evaluating providers, look at some key factors as you comparison shop:

Once you’ve identified where you are and what you’re looking for, request a discovery call from the provider(s) who meet those requirements and best fit your needs. Come to that initial conversation with use cases and your desired outcomes. You may have specific needs around promotions, catalog management, or cart/checkout in six months or under to market. Bring these key goals to the table so a provider gets a clear understanding of your needs and possible solutions. The benefit is two-fold; you may also discover a particular provider isn’t a proper fit. A big timesaver for both of you!

Wondering what else to ask? We’ve put together a list of great questions to evaluate providers.

What you need to know about Elastic Path

For both medium and high digital maturity companies, we offer differentiated experiences with an API-first, headless approach to commerce.

Here are a few resources to help you evaluate us:

eCommerce Platform Buyers Guide

Elastic Path Pricing

Demo Library

Additionally, while we believe there are better ways to make the right selection, we understand that some organizations are committed to RFPs. If you’re in that situation, here’s how we can support your RFP process.

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