RFI, RFP, and RFQ may seem similar, but they are distinctly different parts of the procurement process. This post will help you understand their distinctions, and select the most suitable approach to finding the right supplier.

RFI secrets revealed

RFI stands for Request for Information. It is usually an initial step in the procurement process. Its purpose is to gather general information about products and services from potential suppliers before making a purchasing decision. While it does not provide a definitive cost, it offers general price information and contract terms like warranties and return policies.

RFP exploration

RFP stands for Request for Proposal. It is a detailed questionnaire used by buyers to obtain vital information from suppliers. The information includes specific requirements, such as technical specifications, product ranges and experience, quality standards, and any other relevant details. It helps evaluate the performance of vendors.

RFQ overview

RFQ stands for Request for Quotation. It is a procurement document to collect price quotes from potential suppliers or vendors for specific products. Buyers provide detailed product specifications, quantities, and delivery requirements. The suppliers then submit their quotations, which typically include the unit prices, total prices, and any applicable terms and conditions.

Decode the key differences between RFI, RFP, and RFQ

Implementation stages in the procurement process

RFI, RFP, and RFQ can be implemented in different orders. It mainly depends on the procurement process and the specific requirements of the buyer. The common sequence is RFI → RFP → RFQ. Initially, RFI is used in the early stage to assist the buyer in market research and preliminary screening. Then, in the mid-term, RFP is employed to clarify and refine the requirements. Finally, RFQ is used to compare prices and select the most suitable supplier.

However, in real practice, an RFQ may be issued before or after an RFI or RFP. So, this sequence can vary depending on the specific requirements of the buyer, industry practices, and procurement strategies.


RFI allows buyers to gain a more detailed understanding of the target product’s market. In addition, it enables buyers to interact with various suppliers to assess their capabilities, qualifications, and suitability. It helps to establish initial contact with suppliers. Further negotiation depends on whether buyers are satisfied with the suppliers’ response.

RFP helps buyers gather comprehensive and competitive proposals from suppliers, allowing them to compare different options and make informed decisions. After obtaining the relevant information, the buyer will evaluate and select the supplier based on their requirements.

An RFQ aims to compare and evaluate different price quotes from suppliers in order to make a purchasing decision. It allows the buyer to assess the cost and availability of the required products. And they can select the supplier that offers the most competitive quotation.

Implementation approaches

Since RFI is merely an exploratory contact with potential suppliers, you can ask some questions to select. The questions aim at gathering general information about products or services. Suppose you want to import balancing scooters from China, common questions in an RFI would be like

  • Where are you located?
  • What are your product lines?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have any compliance certifications?
  • Please describe the warranty terms and after-sales support provided for the scooters.

RFP helps you gather specific information about the scooter models after you have a supplier list with RFI. And you can ask

  • Can you provide detailed specifications of the scooter models you offer?
  • What is the estimated lead time for delivery after placing an order?
  • Are customization options available for scooters? If yes, please provide details.
  • What is your company’s experience and expertise in the scooter industry?
  • Can you provide case studies of previous scooter deployments for similar clients?

RFQ sample template

Then you can narrow your supplier list, and use RFQ to match the most suitable one. Here is an RFQ sample for your reference if sourcing balancing scooters.

This is Lily, selling on Amazon in the USA. I’m looking for electric scooters. I’d like to place a trial order with the following requirements,

Quantity: 50 pcs
Tire size: 6.5 inch
Battery type: 2.2Ah
Colors: black, orange, and pink
Features: Multi-color LED wheels. The maximum speed could reach 11.2 km/h, and the load is from 20kg to 70 kg.
Materials: The tire material should be solid rubber tires, and shells use aluminum and plastic.


I want to customize my own design boxes, so please let me know what’s your condition for custom packaging, and what types of packaging are available.

If you can help me arrange shipping, please quote the delivery cost to the following address in the US. I will decide whether to use my freight forwarder or yours.

55555 Lyndon B Johnson Fwy, Dallas, TX 75421



From the above, we can understand that a good RFQ should include the product name, and detailed specifications such as size, material, quantity, color, etc. If you require customization, it is important to specify the customized aspects, such as where your logo should be placed on the product. Additionally, you can discuss packaging and transportation methods to ensure more accurate quotations from suppliers.

You can send individual emails to suppliers for pricing, or you can directly post your RFQ on wholesale websites like Alibaba (as shown in the image below). In this way, you can receive multiple quotations from different suppliers and choose the most suitable one for energy savings.



Your choice of RFI, RFP, and RFQ will heavily depend on your understanding of the supplier market and your specific requirements. If you lack familiarity with the market, issuing RFIs will help you gather information about what each supplier offers. If you are well-acquainted with various suppliers but wish to explore their experience, an RFP is the way to go.

And if you possess a solid understanding of the market and have a clear vision of the required products and services, you can proceed with issuing an RFQ.

As a leading sourcing company in China, Jingsourcing has helped 4000+ clients source and customized products. We have cooperated with 200+ manufacturers in good relations. We will quickly select the suppliers according to your requirements and give you a competitive price. Also, we offer other value-added services, such as custom packaging, product inspection, flexible shipping, etc.

Utilize Jingsourcing to secure competitive prices.

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