Agile Vendor Selection: How Four51 Creates MVPs

January 10, 2020

Category: Best Practices


As technology evolves, so does the vendor-selection process.

As we discussed in a past post, RFPs are hardly a favorable practice anymore. Both businesses and vendors focus on agility and customization. RFPs don’t allow your business to quickly procure the technology it needs nor will it provide vendors with the appropriate medium to showcase their solutions.

As a result, am MVP, or a Minimum Viable Product, is now the best method to go about technology vendor selection, especially with regards to headless technology. By creating an MVP, the vendor is able to truly show you what they’re capable of, and you can make an informed decision based on having seen and felt the solution you may or may not invest in. Besides, almost all organizations, following an RFP, request a brief demo before committing to a vendor. Why not save time and jump straight to the MVP?


If you’ve determined that it’s time for you to move away from the RFP and begin using MVPs, here’s what you can expect from this process if you’re working with Four51:

1. Interview Key Stakeholders to Identify Technological and Strategic Requirements:

To help define requirements and create alignment across your team, we’ll start by conducting a series of interviews with key stakeholders at your business. These interviews will help us gather the information needed to help you outline your organization’s priorities from a technical and strategic standpoint.

Not only does this help you create alignment across key stakeholders, but it also helps us gain clarity on what will be helpful to present to you as part of your MVP. For example, if your CFO prioritizes cost savings over increased margins, we’ll focus on highlighting features and capabilities that will save you money relative to your current solution.

2. Establish Use Cases (a.k.a. User stories) to Define the MVP:

After the requirements are defined, we’ll write anywhere from 3-9 use cases with you. These use cases will serve as the framework for what we showcase as part of the solution presentation.

Use cases can be organized in a number of different ways. If you have many different customer types, we may create user stories for each of the users to highlight how each one will interface with the commerce experience. If things like permissions or approval rules are vital to creating efficiencies across your business, use cases may focus on these.

3. Develop the MVP:

After determining the use cases, Four51 will get to work developing your MVP. The MVP will showcase the abilities of our headless technology in responding to the use cases outlined. This will allow you to interact with a live product and get a feel for whether it’s a good fit for you. 

In general, the MVP creation process can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2-3 months depending on how deep you want to go. To cut down on time, an “MVP” can also be organized, instead of developed. With this approach, we simply demonstrate features and functionalities from current customer applications that align well with your use cases, instead of building them specifically for you.

Remember: a key advantage to this approach relative to the RFP is the vendor’s ability to showcase ideas, features, or benefits you may not have known were even possible. Especially if you’ve never explored an API-first or headless eCommerce option before, push the vendor to make recommendations and showcase ways their solution will align well with each of your stakeholders’ requirements and expectations.

4. Rank/Score Relative to Requirements:

Once the MVP is developed, your team will be free to rank and score the MVP against the use cases and your defined requirements. This is when you’ll have the opportunity to compare MVPs across all of the vendors you may be vetting.

At this point in the MVP process, you and your team will have everything you need to make a decision on which vendor meets your needs. You’ll be able to compare side by side how the solutions will be implemented, scale, and the pricing requirements.


Agility is an essential property for any organization that wants to remain competitive and digitally mature in today’s market. The RFP process is inherently monolithic and slow-moving. For a leading technology vendor like Four51, filling out an RFP consists of filling out a 20-page explanation of how our solutions can solve your problems. While, in reality, even 100 pages wouldn’t be enough because the potential for customization with headless technology is endless. Instead of asking us to tell you, let us show you!

Forrester says that “the experiences that are possible to bring to life with [headless] architecture are beyond what you (most likely) can imagine.” These experiences are too vast to be constrained within an RFP.

That is why Four51 recommends its customers vet Four51’s technology and approach via this MVP process.