What is a Request for Bid?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Also known simply as a bid request, a request for bid is a formal solicitation for a supplier to submit a bid to a potential customer in hopes of securing the business of that individual, company, or non-profit organization. Sometimes referred to as a request for proposal or RFP, the bid request includes the terms and conditions that would govern the working relationship, as well as provide pricing that the issuer is likely to find desirable. While bids can be somewhat informal, they are often well-documented, and structured in a manner that allows the entity requesting bids to compare all submissions with relative ease.

The process for creating a request for bid is relatively straightforward. The issuing entity identifies what products are necessary, includes any details about special applications or features that are required, then invites selected suppliers to submit a formal bid for the business. Usually, there are restrictions on how the bid can be submitted, and a due date by which the issuer must receive the bid in order for it to be considered. Failure to follow the guidelines put in place by the issuer usually leads to automatic exclusion from consideration once the evaluation of received bids is underway.


At the heart of any request for bid is the pricing for each good or service that is to be provided under the terms of the contract. Pricing quotes should be clear, concise, and completely relevant to the stated and implied needs of the bid issuer. While there is usually some room in the response for the supplier to include other data, the pricing should always be presented on a single matrix, preferably on a single page if possible. It is not unusual for the matrix to be structured as an attachment to the main body of the response.

When deciding how to set up the pricing matrix and where to include the data in the body of the response to the request for bid, it is important to pay close attention to the bid proposal sheet or other documents created by the issuer. The pricing matrix should be structured in a way that allows the issuer to follow the same general flow of the request when evaluating the responses. If there are specific instructions about where in the response to place the matrix, make sure that is done. Doing so helps to demonstrate the supplier’s eye for detail as well as make it easier for the issuer to quickly find the data he or she wishes to review during the process of selecting the final vendor.

In situations where the request for bid is very basic, and does not provide a lot of details as to structure and placement of information in the response, the respondent may want to make use of a boilerplate proposal, also known as a proposal template. Many businesses maintain boilerplates that can quickly be customized with pricing and other basic information relevant to a specific bid request. There are also a number of generic proposal templates available for downloading, some of them at no charge. However, these generic resources should only be used when the supplier issuing the request for bid does not choose to include specific details on how the response should be structured.


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