Buyer expectations include a unified customer experience across all channels and devices; if your current e-commerce platform isn’t meeting customer needs, it’s time to take a hard look at the topic of re-platforming.

But a shiny new platform won’t be shiny for long if you haven’t thought about your long-term vision, priorities and existing and future systems. Re-platforming is a large-scale project. The key is to understand and define your internal requirements before you start reaching out to vendors with an RFP. It’s amazing how many differences of opinion can emerge when defining the needs of an organization—don’t run the risk of failed implementation with a shift in priorities after the project has started.

5 Pre-RFP Questions for a New E-Commerce Platform

  1. Who are your customers and how do they interact with you? Ask yourself how you currently sell and fulfill, and how your customers buy from you. Who are your future customers; will their online behavior differ from your current customers? Make sure your platform can serve differing needs over time.
  1. How involved do you want to be with ongoing management of the solution? There are pros and cons to a SaaS versus the traditional approach for hosting your solution—the right answer depends on your preferences, budget, and resource availability.
  1. What is your ongoing support strategy? Do you feel too reliant on IT resources for managing your storefront right now? Think about the specific activities you would like to move into the hands of business users.
  1. What systems will require third-party integration? A comprehensive list of third party systems and applications (e.g. product reviews) that might be replaced by the new platform is a must to include in your RFP.
  1. What are the requirements of your OMS? Identify your back end requirements, such as inventory visibility and shipping requirements, to make sure you can discuss how your new system will address your needs in each area.

Extra Tips

  • Don’t get stuck trying to mirror the functionality you already had. Find a system that fully addresses long-term customer needs.
  • Don’t make your decision based on a demo alone. There are more than a few differences in e-commerce solutions when you look under the hood—make sure you thoroughly understand the system’s omni-channel offerings and how the system impacts all areas of your business. Prioritize finding the right long-term partner.

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  • Is it easy to do this? Can you quickly adjust prices for a sale? Easily upload new photos? Add pages? Expect that some training will be needed, but make sure the back-end is user-friendly. Lastly, use an existing digital commerce platform rather than trying to develop one on your own.

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