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Preparing A Third-Party Fulfillment Request for Proposal (3PF RFP)

By Veronika Noize, the Marketing Coach


Request for Proposal (RFP) formats come in all shapes and sizes, but clear and simple is usually best.  Consider including these elements:


Cover page. Include all the top-line information, including the project name, your company name and contact information, the due date for proposals, and the contact name and information for vendor questions.


Program Introduction.  Start with a detailed description of your business, including your products or services, and an overview of this program.  List the role you expect the 3PF house to play in your plans, including specific tasks, deliverables, start up timelines and critical dates.  If this project is part of a larger project with other vendors or internal departments, mention it here.


Response Requirements.  By specifying the format and information you want, you can reduce the time it will take to compare the bids.  Outline the required response format, including the physical (five hard copies plus one electronic copy, for example), as well as the content (each question requires a specific answer other than "see brochure" and pricing grids), specify the due date, and describe the selection process or criteria.


Vendor qualifications.  Ask the vendors to answer specific, detailed questions about their capabilities in the areas pertinent to your program.  Questions might include background information on the company, key personnel, error rates and productivity statistics, client case studies, and references.  One great question to ask is: What haven't we asked you that we should know about your organization?


Program requirements.  This is the information that will make or break the program, so be as detailed and explicit as possible about the services required for successful completion of your program.  Include specific numbers, in terms of quantity or frequency for all transactions and services, such as order processing, storage requirements, electronic systems and interfaces, reporting formats, credit card processing, and so on.  Outline program parameters, including projected number of each transaction type, anticipated percentage of returns, product type, number of SKUs, packaging requirements, items per order, and so on.  Also list anything you expect the 3PF vendor to provide, from toll free phone numbers to boxes or packing materials.


Cost comparison grid.  A grid or spreadsheet for bidders to complete will make cost comparisons much easier, and allow you to compare prices at the unit and project level.  Keep in mind that some vendors may use different categories to bill.  Allow each bidder to add to the spreadsheet as necessary to fully disclose the pricing of your project.


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"I help small businesses attract more clients."
~Veronika Noize, the Virtual Marketing Coach

Veronika Noize LLC
The Virtual Marketing Coach

2643 Beaver Ave · PMB 338 · Des Moines IA 50310  · USA

360-882-1298 voice