With Headless eCommerce, MVPs are the new RFP

December 5, 2019

Category: Best Practices

The way businesses decide how to buy new technology must, naturally, evolve with the technology itself.

For years, a request for proposal (RFP) has been the go-to process for finding a suitable vendor. The RFP lets a business communicate its requirements, decision-making process, and risk threshold with a potential vendor. Historically, this method allowed businesses to vet potential vendors and make more efficient financial decisions.

However, with technology rapidly changing, the RFP is becoming an inefficient and outdated model. According to a recent Forrester publication, the RFP is nearing extinction because it’s too time-consuming and incompatible with the more agile and advanced technology available in the market.

Why are RFPs going extinct?

Both the world of technology and the prioritization of the customer-centric approach has changed. And because the approach has evolved, the selection process needs to as well.

An RFP lists problems and specific solutions that a business wants a vendor to provide. But this approach does not support innovation and agility.  Today’s technology vendors can often fix problems that businesses might not even know they have. 

The RFP approach to vendor selection promotes what Forrester analyst Elain Hutton calls “digital sameness.” It can mitigate the vendor’s role as an innovator and expert as it only asks them to showcase a narrow set of capabilities. With this process, a business might vet out some vendors with more efficient technology solutions simply because they don’t check off the exhaustive list of requirements in the RFP.

RFPs are also too time-consuming. If your business is trying to be agile, RFPs do not fit well. They often take months to draft, send-out, and analyze. Moreover, businesses typically do not sign with a vendor before they see a live demonstration of the technology, adding more time to the process. Requirements are too specific and clients want to see that the vendors can deliver the solutions they need.

MVPs are the new RFP

For businesses who are focused on agility and continuous innovation, and don’t want to settle for an “out-of-the-box” eCommerce experience, vetting API-first and headless eCommerce vendors is inevitable. 

Using an RFP to communicate with a headless eCommerce provider about their capabilities and approach is wasteful and limiting. Descriptions, screenshots, or videos can’t demonstrate headless capabilities like a live product can. 

In vetting API-first, headless eCommerce platforms, asking for a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a much better alternative to the archaic and inefficient RFP.

An MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy the customers’ needs. APIs and headless technology make it easier to spin up MVPs specific to a prospect’s requirements than traditional, monolithic technology. A headless eCommerce vendor can assign a small team to rapidly create an MVP for a prospective customer based on a short, but specific, list of requirements. The customer will be able to test the vendor’s approach and capabilities against their specific set of requirements, and the vendor will be able to show off additional features and ideas they have that might solve the customer’s needs in ways they hadn’t thought of before.

If the vendor can’t deliver an MVP to help with your vetting process, you can likely assume it’s because their technology and approach aren’t agile and flexible enough to support the speed you’ll need down the line.

Your approach to vendor selection should be as agile, flexible, and customized as your eCommerce technology and experience.

Photo credit: Edubirdie