What is the Product Call?
The Product Call refers to the end-to-end process through which the OCS sources product from federally Licensed Producers and Accessories Suppliers (“Suppliers”) that it intends to purchase and list for sale in Ontario.
The OCS recently introduced an enhanced, more transparent Product Call process. We worked with our Suppliers to ensure this process better aligns with their innovation plans and production cycles. Process enhancements optimize the time required to bring products to market while ensuring ample time for execution.
OCS currently issues Product Calls four times each calendar year.
The Product Call process is designed to optimize innovation, facilitate mutual accountability, and promote transparency by:
- Ensuring that Suppliers are able to flawlessly execute and have sufficient time to share innovation plans for products that meet consumer expectations.
- Providing Retailers with access to a broad and diverse product catalogue that helps enable the ongoing development of a healthy and sustainable retail cannabis marketplace in Ontario.
- Offering Consumers consistent, quality-tested cannabis products across a variety of price-points to encourage their next purchase to be a legal one.
What Steps are Involved in the Product Call?
As part of its commitment to transparency, the OCS will provide all Suppliers with clear feedback and insight into its decision-making process throughout the Product Call Process.
The Product Call process involves three stages:
- Pre-Submission: This begins when the OCS publishes an Assortment Needs Bulletin, followed by an opportunity for interested Suppliers (both current and prospective) to pre-submit products they wish to list for sale in Ontario.
- Submission: Eligible Suppliers chosen via the Pre-Submission process are invited to submit through the Product Call Submission Portal. OCS evaluates submissions against standardized criteria, provides all Suppliers with feedback, and issues notices to purchase (NTP) product from successful submissions.
- Product Onboarding: Suppliers work with the OCS to complete the listing process, build forecasts and arrange for product to be sold into Ontario’s recreational cannabis market.
Throughout the year, current Suppliers also have the opportunity to engage with OCS Category Managers during Category Business Review. These reviews offer opportunities to discuss category performance, brand strategies, and innovation planning — and help guide effective submissions for the Product Call.
OCS publishes Assortment Needs Bulletin
- Bulletins are published four (4) times per year, prior to each Product Call launch.
- OCS may also occasionally issue separate “Event Specific” Product Calls, at the sole discretion of OCS.
- Bulletins identify assortment gaps or category trends in the provincial catalogue that the OCS is looking to address.
- Assortment needs are determined by assessing insights and market research, current sales trends and input received from Licensed Producers, Licensed Retailers and end consumers.
Suppliers submit Pre-Submission Form
- Suppliers submit a form to share critical information about new products they wish to sell into Ontario’s recreational cannabis market prior to proceeding with a formal product submission.
The OCS assesses Pre-Submission Forms and provides all Suppliers with feedback
- OCS reviews Pre-Submission Forms against Pre-Submission Scorecard Criteria, which include but are not limited to current executional performance, innovation, market support plans and cost.
- Assigned Category Managers offer clear and consistent feedback within approximately 15 business days. Feedback timing may vary – see Live Product Call for specific timelines.
- Feedback will include recommendations on which items to submit and offer feedback for those Suppliers not invited to proceed with a formal submission to the Product Call.
Expect Communication from the OCS
Shortlisted Suppliers are invited to submit to the Product Call
- OCS invites select Suppliers to formally submit to the Product Call.
- Only Suppliers that have met the following criteria are eligible for section:
- Supplier must have submitted a successful Pre-Submission Form.
- Cannabis Suppliers must hold the appropriate Health Canada licence that authorizes the sale of cannabis products included in the submission to a provincially-authorized distributor, such as the OCS.
- Supplier must not have had a product recalled in the six months prior to the Pre-Submission deadline in the specific category in which they wish to submit.
Suppliers submit to the Product Call
- Suppliers submit products to be considered for listing through the Product Call Submission Portal.
- All submitted products are reviewed to ensure alignment with the OCS product submission expectations. Please refer to the Cannabis Product Names and Branding Element Guidelines for more information.
OCS makes listing decisions and communicates next steps to Suppliers
- Suppliers are provided with Notice to Purchase (NTP) and submission packages for accepted SKUs within approximately 20 business days of the Submission Deadline. Timing may vary — see Live Product Call for specific timelines.
- OCS works with Suppliers to determine product quantity, landed cost, channel allocation and inventory method (e.g. general inventory, flow-through).
- While Suppliers are encouraged to state their desired launch window during Submission, Suppliers will be provided with the anticipated launch dates on both OCS.ca and the OCS Wholesale B2B Portal.
- Suppliers with SKUs that have not been accepted receive a Rejection Letter that includes rationale for why the SKUs were not accepted.
- Suppliers may also request a copy of the completed Submission Scorecard for the submission from their Category Manager.
- Rejection Letters are sent within approximately 20 business days of the Submission Deadline. Timing may vary — see Live Product Call for specific timelines.
Expect Communication from the OCS
Suppliers sign and return NTPs and submission packages before engaging OCS Supply Chain
- New Suppliers onboard with the OCS as a vendor. All Suppliers are required to enter into a commercial agreement that enables product sales to the OCS.
- Suppliers must submit to the OCS all documentation indicated within the NTP, including:
- GS1 packaging images
- Beauty / “bud” images *Collection deadline for Beauty images for Dried flower will be specified in NTP
- Brand logos
- New Product Education Presentation
- Packaging/label artwork
- Child Resistance Certificate
- Cannabis Product Specification Form
- Category Expansion Form
Delivery Dates Booked
- OCS Supply Chain works with the Supplier to complete forecasts before issuing Purchase Orders.
- Once a Purchase Order has been received, the Supplier may book a delivery appointment with the OCS Distribution Centre.
- Items will be visible to Authorized Retailers on the OCS B2B Portal and tagged as “Coming Soon” once the OCS has issued the PO. You can view the PO issuance schedule on the Live Product Call page.
Product listed in the Provincial Catalogue and made available for sale in Ontario.
Who can I reach out to if I have questions about the Product Call process?
All Suppliers will be assigned a Category Manager to serve as a consistent point-of-contact throughout the Product Call process. Suppliers will receive a response to any inquiry from their assigned Category Manager within 5 business days.
For general inquiries, please reach out to the OCS Merchandising Team at email@example.com.
Pre-Submission Scorecard Criteria
Items included in a pre-submission are assessed on a pass or fail basis according to the following criteria:
Submission Scorecard Criteria
Items included in a formal submission are scored according to whether or not they exceed, meet or fall below the following criteria: