What is an RFQ? 

Apr 23, 2024 | Sourcing

Facebook twitter Gmail LinkedIn

In today’s business environment, procuring goods and services can be a tedious and inefficient process, especially when requests are handled manually through phone calls, e-mails, paper catalogs and faxes. Faced with this challenge, streamlining purchasing processes is critical to ensuring that organizations not only get what they need on time, but at the best possible cost.

In this context, documents such as the Request for Quotation (RFQ) play a fundamental role in standardizing and simplifying the supplier selection process, allowing companies to compare offers efficiently and effectively.

This article takes an in-depth look at the RFQ as a key tool in the sourcing toolbox, highlighting its usefulness in achieving efficient and economically advantageous sourcing. It explains what an RFQ is, when and how to use it, and provides a step-by-step guide to writing it effectively, along with helpful examples and templates.

What is an RFQ?

An RFQ, or Request for Quotation, is an essential procurement tool used by organizations to obtain detailed quotes from suppliers for specific goods and services. This document is critical for companies looking to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of their purchasing processes, allowing them to compare prices and select the most advantageous offer based primarily on cost.

  1. Features of the RFQ
    1. Formality and Structure: An RFQ is a formal document that asks suppliers to submit their pricing proposals in a structured manner. This includes detailing every aspect of the requested product or service, making it easier to make direct comparisons between different offerings.
    2. Focus on Price: The distinguishing feature of an RFQ is its focus on price as the primary selection criterion. Unlike other solicitation documents such as RFPs (Request for Proposals), where multiple aspects of the bid are evaluated, the RFQ focuses exclusively on cost.
    3. Clear Specifications: For an RFQ to be effective, it must accurately detail the specifications of the required product or service. This ensures that all quotes received are directly comparable and aligned with the exact needs of the organization.
  2. Types of RFQ

    There are different types of RFQs that can be tailored depending on the specific needs of the project and the company’s procurement strategy:

    1. Open Bid RFQ: Allows any qualified supplier to participate, fostering a competitive environment where suppliers can adjust their bids in response to those of competitors.
    2. Closed Bid RFQ: Protects the confidentiality of bids until all bids are received and the selection process begins, helping to prevent anti-competitive practices and ensure a fair process.
    3. Invitation RFQ: Restricts the RFQ to a select group of vendors, typically those with whom a relationship already exists or who have been prequalified based on past performance or specialization.
    4. Reverse Auction: In this type of RFQ, suppliers compete in real-time by reducing their prices in an attempt to win the contract, which can be especially useful for purchases of commodities or standardized products.

      Sample Questions for an RFQ

      Here are examples of questions that can be included in an RFQ to ensure accurate and comparable details are obtained:

      1. Provider Overview 
        1. How long have you been in business?
        2. Can you provide customer references for similar projects?
      2. Product or Service Details
        1. What is the unit cost of the product or service required?
        2. Do you offer volume discounts or advance purchases?
      3. Compliance Capability
        1. What is your monthly production or service capacity?
        2. What are your standard delivery times?
      4. Quality & Certifications
        1. What quality certifications does your company have?
        2. How do you ensure the quality of the products or services offered?
      5. Payment & Financial Terms
        1. What are your standard payment terms?
        2. Do you offer flexible payment terms based on contract volume or length?
      6. Support & Warranty
        1. What kind of technical support do you offer after the sale?
        2. What is the length of the warranty for your products or services?

      These questions should be clear and direct to make it easier to compare offers. It is important to include questions that cover all relevant aspects of the desired product or service, as well as any logistical or support considerations that may influence the final purchase decision.

      RFQ Selection Process

       The RFQ (Request for Quotation) selection process is a structured method that organizations use to evaluate and select supplier bids based primarily on price and other quantitative criteria. Here’s how this process works:

      1. Preparation of the RFQ: The first step is to clearly define the product or service requirements, technical specifications, quantities, and delivery times. This phase includes the creation of the RFQ document that will be sent to the vendors.
      2. RFQ issuance: Once prepared, the RFQ is distributed to a selected list of vendors. This list may include regular suppliers or new candidates who have been pre-qualified to ensure they can meet the requirements.
      3. Receipt of Responses: Suppliers submit their detailed quotes before the specified deadline. Responses should include all pricing details and meet the required specifications.
      4. Evaluate Quotes: The responses received are compared based on the established criteria, mainly the price, but other factors such as deliverability, warranties and after-sales support are also considered.
      5. Supplier Selection: The supplier whose proposition offers the best value, not only in terms of cost but also considering quality and service, is selected. Final negotiations are made if necessary before the purchase is formalized.
      6. Communication: Once the supplier is selected, the other participants are notified and feedback is provided if requested. This helps maintain good relationships with unselected suppliers and facilitates future requests for quotes.

      This process helps organizations obtain the best prices in the market while ensuring that the products and services purchased meet their quality standards and operational needs.

      Structure of an RFQ

      The structure of an RFQ (Request for Quotation) is crucial to ensure that organizations receive comparable and detailed responses from suppliers. A well-defined structure helps suppliers understand exactly what is required of them and allows buyers to evaluate proposals efficiently. Here are the essential components that a typical RFQ should include:

      • Introduction and Summary: This section provides a general context of the RFQ, including the purpose and objectives of the application process. It can include a brief description of the company and the project for which the goods or services are required.
      • Submission Instructions: You should detail how and when vendors should submit their proposals, including deadlines and preferred submission formats.
      • Detailed Project Description: This specifies the requirements of the project, including technical details, expected volumes, and delivery times. This section is vital for suppliers to understand the scope of work and be able to offer accurate quotes.
      • Vendor Requirements: Lists the qualifications and experience required for the project, asking vendors to demonstrate their ability to meet these expectations.
      • Evaluation Criteria: Clarifies how proposals will be evaluated, highlighting the relative importance of factors such as cost, quality, and meeting deadlines.
      • Pricing Table: A detailed structure that suppliers must use to submit their quote. This makes it easy to directly compare between different suppliers.
      • Terms and Conditions: Includes legal and contractual information that will govern the relationship between the parties.
      • Additional Information Required: You can ask vendors to include case studies, testimonials, certifications, or any other documents that support your proposal.

      By structuring an RFQ with these components, organizations ensure a clear and structured bidding process that makes it easier to obtain detailed and comparable proposals, thus optimizing the selection and purchasing process.

      How the RFQ compares to the RFP

      While both are solicitation tools used to acquire goods or services, their applications and approaches vary significantly.

      The RFQ is mainly used when the requirements are clear and detailed, and price is the deciding factor. It is effective for standard products or services where specifications are not subject to interpretation and comparison is based on cost. This makes it an ideal tool for purchases that don’t require a lot of exploration of options or creative solutions.

      On the other hand, the RFP is best suited for projects that require detailed proposal analysis and where the selection criteria are more complex than simply price. RFPs allow vendors to offer creative, tailored solutions that can address specific project needs, and are ideal for services or products that require customization or innovative approaches.

      Below is a comparison table to highlight the key differences between RFQ and RFP:




      Main Objective

      Get the lowest price for clear specifications

      Selecting the Supplier That Best Meets Complex Requirements

      Focus on


      Quality, Technique, and Service Approach

      Type of need

      Standardized good or service

      Good or service that requires customization

      Decision based on


      Combination of Cost, Quality, and Capacity




      This comparison highlights how the RFQ focuses on the economic aspect, while the RFP values a comprehensive assessment of what each vendor can offer.


      Here are strategic and practical tips for maximizing the benefits of RFQs and ensuring that companies can get the best value from suppliers.

      1. Clarity of Requirements: It is critical to be extremely clear and specific about needs and expectations. Precise details help avoid misunderstandings and ensure that suppliers’ responses are directly comparable.
      2. Careful Supplier Selection: Include in the process only those suppliers who are pre-qualified and have a demonstrated ability to meet the required specifications. This not only saves time, but also increases the quality of the proposals received.
      3. Strategic Use of RFQs: Use RFQs primarily in situations where price is the deciding factor and product or service specifications are clear and standardized. This is particularly useful for commoditized products or when specifications are uniform and well understood by all potential suppliers.
      4. Transparent and Fair Evaluation: Establish and adhere to clear and fair evaluation criteria that are known to all participants. This helps maintain the integrity of the process and build trust among all participants.
      5. Outcome-Based RFQ Negotiations: Use the results of the RFQ as a starting point for future negotiations. Although price is a critical factor, the quality, service, and flexibility of the supplier should also be considered during final negotiations.
      6. Constructive Feedback: Provide feedback to suppliers who were not selected. Not only is this useful for maintaining good relationships, but it can also help them improve on future proposals.
      7. Review and Continuous Improvement: Periodically evaluate the RFQ process to identify areas for improvement. Learning from each RFQ will help refine future processes, increasing efficiency and effectiveness.

      By following these recommendations, organizations can ensure that their RFQ processes not only result in selecting the most economical vendor, but also the one that offers the best overall value, balancing cost, quality, and service.


       In conclusion, understanding the differences between an RFQ and an RFP is crucial to optimizing procurement processes. While the RFQ is ideal for purchases where price is the main factor and specifications are clear and standardized, the RFP is essential for more complex projects where multiple factors are evaluated to select the best proposal. Choosing the right instrument not only ensures optimal efficiency and costs, but also ensures that the solutions selected are aligned with the strategic and operational needs of the company. This knowledge enables organizations to make informed decisions and build fruitful relationships with suppliers, critical to long-term success in the competitive business world.

      Agenda una reunión gratis

      Si está interesado en saber más sobre el tema de este artículo, le invitamos a agrndar una cita con nosotros, donde le daremos más detalles.

      Contenido Relacionado

      What is an RFI? 

      In the B2B procurement universe, the terms RFI and RFP are becoming the common language of communication between...

      What is a RFP

      Mastering the art of writing a RFP (Request for Proposal) is essential for any professional. Done correctly, the RFP...

      Categorías: Sourcing
      Subscríbete a nuestra lista de Publicaciones

      Subscríbete a nuestra lista de Publicaciones

      Únete a nuestra lista de correo para recibir las últimas noticias y actualizaciones de nuestro equipo.

      ¡Te has suscrito exitosamente!

      Comparte en tus redes

      Comparte este contenido con tus conocidos!

      WhatsApp chat