The difference between an RFI, RFQ and RFP.

One of the things we’ve learned is the importance of choosing the right supplier, and a key aspect of that decision is knowing what kind of request you need to make. After all, it’s what will give you the information you need to make the right decision. While at first glance the difference between them might seem confusing, each type of request has a specific purpose.

If you don’t know how to make heads or tails between them, this article will be your guide to their differences, as well as knowing which one works best for you.

The different types of requests

All requests have a shared purpose: getting information from your potential supplier. The main difference between them is what type of information you’ll receive. Let’s take a look at each one individually:

Request for Information (RFI)

A request for information, or RFI, is used to get a better handle on the supply market. You use it to familiarize yourself with the types of suppliers available, the kind of products and services they offer, and the general differences between them.

While this isn’t the type of request you would use to get a definitive cost, it’s also used to get general price information from suppliers, as well as some contract terms like warranties and return policies.

It’s intended to be your introduction to the supplier market, and it works best in the early stages of the buying process.

Request for Proposal (RFP)

A request for proposal, or RFP, is a more formal and structured type of request. You use it when you are looking for specific information about your potential supplier, and they are a great tool to compare vendors based on their own plans.

This is not just about the price, you use an RFP to learn more about the strategies of the suppliers, their CSR policies, and to see if they would be a good match for your company.

You use it to see how they would tackle your needs, and to measure their competence.

Request for Quotation (RFQ)

Finally, we have the request for quotation, or RFQ. This type of proposal is used to close the deal with a supplier. You already know what you need, and how much of it, and now you are looking to know exactly how much it’ll cost you. Requests for quotations are usually used when you are looking to award a contract to the supplier with the lowest price. 

For an RFQ to be effective, you need to provide your potential supplier with clear and unambiguous specifications that have no errors. A detailed list of requirements is what will allow your supplier to give you an accurate price quote.

Choosing between an RFI, RFQ, or RFP

The requests that you need to use will depend a lot on your understanding of the supplier market, and of your own needs.

If you are unfamiliar with the market, and you aren’t entirely sure which products or services work best for you, you should issue RFIs to know what everyone is offering.

On the other hand, if you have a good handle on the different suppliers, but still want to see what kind of solutions they bring to the table, go with an RFP.

Lastly, if you already know the market, and you have a clear idea of the products and services you’ll need, you can go ahead and issue an RFQ.


At the end of the day, each request is intended to give you more information about your supplier. It could be general information through an RFI, specific details with an RFP, or a detailed price quote by means of an RFQ. 

If you are still not sure which one you need, Procurement Express would be happy to help you figure it out. If you want to learn more about procurements, check out our educational resources or reach out to us for a demo.

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