RFP for a Company Store? Start with an RFI.

So, you’re tasked to develop an RFP for your company store? You already know that an RFP is a significant undertaking, it’s laborious but important. It also encompasses a myriad of details, which is why you should consider an RFI as a much easier (and far less complex) starting point.

What’s the difference between an RFI and an RFP? (And more importantly, why does it matter?)

An RFP (as you likely already know) is a request for a proposal; an RFI is a request for information. The reason an RFI should come before an RFP? Many of the vendors whom you might consider sending an RFP to, have no business replying to your RFP because they lack the essential services that you need. Many vendors see revenue first and consider capabilities second. By replying to your request for proposal, they imply they are equipped to service you and are prepared to offer their proposal.

Not so fast.

Through an RFI, what you are trying to match is your need with your vendors capabilities. Think of the RFI as your vendor qualification assessment, it’s the document that tells you whether or not your prospective vendors are even compatible for you and your store. By sending an RFI first, you can dramatically decrease the number of ineligible vendors thereby making the RFP process much more productive.

Following is an example of typical RFI questions for a company store. Use the RFI questions to filter out vendors who cannot comply with your most pressing needs. Once you’ve completed the RFI process, you are then able to take the next step: building the RFP.

Note: the term “customer” refers to the end-buyer on your store (typically, your colleagues who are shopping on the site). “We” refers to you, the customer who is setting up the company store and “you” refers to the vendor.

Online Company Store RFI (Request for Information)