Replatforming can be a daunting decision if you have business that's ready to take the next step and scale but you're unsure where to begin.
If you’re considering replatforming, it’s because your business has reached one of the two following:
Despite how different they sound, both manifest with almost identical symptoms:
- Mounting technical debt
- Unreliable online performance
- Lack of platform innovation
- Rising costs for maintenance and hosting
The result? Instead of focusing on your product, core competencies, engaging customers, and increasing revenue through multichannel and international strategies, you’re forced to play catch up or stay afloat with existing inefficiencies in traffic, sales, logistics, inventory, and analytics.
If you’re ready to take action, we’ve prepared an ecommerce RFP template to help guide you. Here, you’ll find some of the top concerns for you and your team in preparation for replatforming, and a 157-point checklist you can use to tailor to your company’s needs.
How can an ecommerce RFP template help?
A request for proposal (RFP) is a formal document announcing the bidding process and initial terms. RFPs can be shared publicly or with a select group of vendors.
The goal of issuing an ecommerce RFP is twofold: It helps solidify your intentions and requirements internally; and an ecommerce RFP will formalize those objectives in a way that lets you examine and evaluate prospective solutions on your terms.
Before using the RFP template itself, we’ve compiled the main questions and concerns you need to consider in a replatforming scenario: business goals, operating costs, and functionality requirements.
It’s crucial during preparation to bring together internal stakeholders and external partners with whom you want to continue working to align on three main concerns: why now, total operating costs, and functionality.
Knowing your why in commerce is powerful. Why you created your business, what gaps it fills, and why it needs to grow. When thinking about replatforming, it’s crucial to ask why now. Next to compiling an exhaustive list of must-keep features, tools, and partners, this will likely be your most detailed and crucial question.
A great way to start to understand if you should replatform is by making lists. Jot down your current pain points, frustrations, and limitations. Be sure to have both quantitative and qualitative reasons for those pain points, such as lost sales, increased costs, downtimes, poor customer experience, or low conversion rates or retention.
While it’s important to sketch out a tentative timeline for relaunch, a good sales team will put that together for you and come prepared with an evaluation of the project. Like the saying goes, “A deliverable without a due date never gets done.”
What sales channels do you use?
Beyond your storefront(s), it’s important to list out your various sales channels and their impact, like if you run them through your current platform or through a third-party. Some channels you may consider include:
- Mail-order catalogs
- POS (brick-and-mortar retail)
- Customer service reps (telephone or email)
- Social networks
- Comparison shopping platforms
- Online communities
Another point to consider: what is your current—or future—approach to wholesale and B2B ecommerce?
What are your replatforming goals?
All business growth can be tied to causes reducing costs, increasing revenue, and improving efficiency. With your team, rank the following in order of importance and briefly describe the role each objective will play in replatforming:
- Reduce total cost of ownership
- Increase revenue by modernizing tech stack
- Improve efficiency by unburdening IT
- Become or solidify position as a market leader
As you compose your objectives, carefully consider why customers buy from you. If your business goals, customer preferences, and reasons for replatforming aren’t aligned—i.e., investing more in what you’re best at—that can be a recipe for heartache and wasted effort.
Total operating costs
What are your operating costs?
Be as exhaustive as possible on this front to calculate your total cost of ownership (TCO):
- Initial costs: design, development, servers, hosting, security, licensing
- Ongoing costs: design and development (in-house and/or agency), server, maintenance fees, hosting, security, licensing, CDN, applications
During the sales process with a new platform, expect and demand a total cost of ownership/return on investment exercise. It’s the burden of the platform you’re considering moving forward with to set such an expectation and provide a more rounded view of what replatforming entails.
What features and integrations are must-keep but have added costs?
Here is a detailed—but not exhaustive—list of some features that may be must-keeps for your business, and something to include in your TCO:
- Payment gateways
- Retail point-of-sale (POS)
- Proprietary software
- Hosting services
- Front end frameworks
- Digital asset manager
- A/B testing
- Marketing tools (onsite or offsite)
- Onsite search solution
- Merchandising software
- Customer service and/or CRM
- Shipping and fulfillment (3PL)
- Inventory management (IMS)
- Order management (OMS)
- Warehousing (WMS)
- Multichannel or omnichannel integrations
- Supply chain management
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
- Additional solutions (analytics, ratings and reviews, recommendations, etc.)
How do you currently implement content, design, product, and UX changes?
How long does it take to get your content or design needs up on your site? Whether it’s manual labor or an automated process, you need to understand how replatforming can help in these areas to achieve the scale and growth of your business. Briefly describe your operating process—that may include an in-house team of designers and developers, marketing team, ecommerce manager, third-party agency—along with the team sizes and speed of implementation to see the full scope.
What is your current approach to international ecommerce?
List out the countries you sell from and ones you sell to. Consider the legality of selling to certain countries. What about your go-to market strategy, operations, and product assortment based on each country? Going global is more than just adding multiple currencies and language options to your website: it’s also how you target and customize your messaging based on geography. If you don’t have an international ecommerce strategy yet, note that and consider adding it as a specific business objective above.
Do you have any special customizations or product configurations?
Let’s focus on features that are unique to your business or current platform:
- Product builders
- Pricing structures
- Recurring shipments
- Partial returns
- Data importing and exporting
- Complex variants
- Custom onsite search
- Product rules
Ecommerce RFP template: 157-point checklist
After you’ve aligned your goals, next consult our detailed checklist, which is nuanced for your business to create an ecommerce RFP. You won’t need to address every point, but the template provides an easy-to-use outline you can pick and choose from. Enter your company profile and replatforming needs into the executive summary section. Customize what you need to know in the solutions section.
Sample pages from Ecommerce RFP Checklist: 157-Point Template
Ready to replatform?
The decision to replatform can take time and a lot of back and forth before a decision is made. But it can also be the path to exponential growth. The secret is making what youneed the centerpiece in the decision-making process, rather than what any potential platform wants.