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Marion Soubliere

New Federal e-Commerce Site: Direct Sales, Clients Galore

The Government of Canada is the first to admit that it’s not easy to do business with them. But change is on the horizon.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The latest step toward simpler procurement involves replacing the tendering site. In July 2018, the government awarded U.S.-based InfoSys Public Services a contract to build a new e-commerce site.

Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) will roll out this “electronic procurement solution,” as it’s called, in modules. This lets PSPC course-correct before other departments and agencies come on board. Phase 1 is expected in the summer or fall of 2019.

All levels of government in Canada, plus other public sector bodies, will be able to buy from federal lists of pre-approved suppliers. That creates huge market reach for firms, big or small.

Buying directly from suppliers a first

The Government of Canada spends between $15 billion and $20 billion on goods and services yearly. Most contracts, though, are worth $25,000 or less. For low-dollar contracts, shoppers will be able to buy directly from suppliers with $10,000 pre-approved credit cards, axing the need for procurement staff.

The e-commerce site will send shoppers first to catalogues of suppliers on federal standing offers or supply arrangements. If buyers can’t find what they need, they then follow the traditional route of publicly posting tenders.

Hundreds of potential clients

The need to create this website results from the fledgling Canada-European Union (EU) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). The Government of Canada must provide an online tendering system that publishes all Canadian public sector tenders subject to CETA.

CETA lets the agreement’s two parties bid on each other’s government procurement. Canadian firms get special access to some of the almost €450 billion (roughly $683 billion) that the EU spends on government procurement.

For greater efficiencies, non-federal public entities can opt to buy from the same federal supplier catalogues. These other entities include:

  • provincial, territorial and municipal governments
  • Canadian aid agencies and public health organizations
  • intergovernmental organizations
  • foreign governments

Purchases will be made through government-wide standing offers and supply arrangements run by PSPC, like ProServices. The public and others may eventually use this e-commerce site, too.

Reviews a marketing gift to suppliers

Here are a few other nifty features of the new website.

  • Suppliers will post their business info, certifications and credentials once on the site. No longer will firms need to repeat selling points in bid after bid. They’ll simply keep their profile updated for future contracts. A live chat system will also aid suppliers.
  • Buyers will review supplier performance. Like Yelp — but for internal eyes only. Buyers will indicate whether suppliers delivered quality goods and services on time and on budget.

Editing shops can prep for 2019 by registering to get on ProServices, if they haven’t done so already. This parachutes firms into supplier catalogues. ProServices is a mandatory supply arrangement for many services, including editing. Deadlines to apply are the last business day of September, December, March and June.

Canadian firms could also check out Global Affairs Canada’s guide to doing business with EU governments.

Lastly, if selling to the Government of Canada is new to you, my previous posts explain the basics.


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4 Comments on “New Federal e-Commerce Site: Direct Sales, Clients Galore”

  • I cannot imagine a more useful article for the Editor’s Weekly. It’s material like this that reminds me that Editors Canada is a professional association worth our support–however did people manage without it,back in the day?

  • Frances Peck


    Thank you for this invaluable update, Marion. We’ve been waiting a long time for changes that truly simplify procurement at the federal level. To hear that they’re finally coming, and that they may well spill over to other levels of government, is welcome news.

    • You’re very welcome, Frances! I think these changes are long overdue. Clearing the logjam of low-dollar contracts under $25,000 by letting buyers purchase direct from suppliers helps businesses and government alike. One of the features that I think will aid micro-enterprises the most is the internal supplier review feature. Good suppliers could nab endorsements potentially seen by hundreds of buyers, far and wide.

      Two other Government of Canada procurement developments that I didn’t explore in this post are the government’s pledge in Budget 2018 to increase the amount of business that it does with women-owned businesses, and social procurement. Maybe that will be for a future post. ?

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