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Originally posted on August 18th, 2010.
My last job, before leaving for a 4-month trip to south-East Asia and Australia, was Web Project Manager. I built an e-commerce website for a company. Throughout the whole process, I learned a few things about how to build an efficient Request For Proposal (RFP) when launching a new e-commerce website.
The RFP allows you to put in one big document all that you will require from your web platform supplier (ex.: email marketing platform, classified ads, A/B testing on web pages, canonical tags, sweepstakes program, picture enlarger, comparison engine, etc).
Compare what you would like to have with what other competitors have on their website and what could add value to your organization. You can also look at what other companies in different industries are doing to get different ideas.
Take time to ensure that nothing is forgotten, because this is usually into those forgotten features that your new supplier will make a lot of money from you.
Make sure you divide the project into phases and write down realistic deadlines. Keep to yourself an extra 4-8 (or more) weeks, if you are putting up a big project. For sure, something is going to go wrong and you have to plan ahead if you don’t want to be in trouble!
List down the criteria that you will consider when making your decision. If working on an Internet project, DO NOT attribute a major score based on location, unless this is the most important thing for you (more than having a great project). Being able to discuss face to face with your supplier is surely a plus, but making your decision based on that factor could make you sacrifice the quality of your project. Anyway it’s 2010, which means you can have a Telepresence conference with people from everywhere on the planet along with a live demonstration; so no need to consider location anymore.
Finally, find the top companies that could help you achieve your e-commerce objectives and send them the RFP. If you don’t know where to look, ask a competent consultant company, or subscribe to Internet Retailer (or another well-known organization of this type). Make sure to send those companies a confidential agreement to sign beforehand. We never know what could happen and for sure you don’t want your RFP to land on your competitors desks!
Good luck with your project!