Walmart, the world's biggest retailer, has come up with a 'new' gimmick: it will let its customers decide which products should join the Walmart shelves. The product with the most votes wins, whether store buyers like it or not.
American Idol-like contest
Walmart's new idea, Get on the Shelf, is “similar to the popular American Idol television show”: any American can join the contest by submitting a video in which they promote their product before 22 February. The winners (after two rounds of voting) will have their products sold in Walmart's internet shop (the best three contestants) and in selected offline Walmart stores in the US (only the best one).
Walmart will screen all entries before submitting them to their website and Americans can vote for any of the approved videos from 7 March till 4 April. The ten videos with the most votes will then advance to the final (11 – 24 April), and afterwards the three winners will be announced. Whether they will also receive a cash prize or only the glory, is not known.
Only the votes count
Get on the Shelf is developed by Walmart's innovation centre @WalmartLabs and is a whole new way of crowdsourcing for Walmart. Usually the retailer forces strict requirements upon its suppliers, but they will now be cast aside: only the votes count – and the multitude of customers who want to see the products in their Walmart shelves.
Henky Harinarayan, Walmarts senior vice president e-commerce, stated that this will help breach the barriers between customers and shelves. “For a long time, the ability to get a product into a retail store was at the sole discretion of the store buyer. Today, we are removing these barriers by giving anyone a chance to launch their product at Walmart and reach millions of shoppers nationwide.”
Walmart admits that many interesting products would have remained under the radar using only traditional methods, although the list of currently submitted items is not that stunning. In the first few weeks, when Get on the shelf was only promoted on a low scale, forty mostly non-food items were submitted. Among them an iPad pillow (the ePillow) , a pivoting comb that easily creates instant updos (PoniLox), a pet food bowl with motion sensor and automatically closing lid (Auto Dish) and – last but not least – PugZ paw puffs for dogs. Needless to say that all of these useful items would be an indispensable addition to Walmart's shelves...