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At Walmart, innovation through crowdsourcing

Retail giant asks customers to submit new-product inventions

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart has a big enough piggybank to spend millions of dollars on product development, if it wishes to do so.

But lately Walmart has turned to its own customers to come up with innovative product ideas, relying on what’s known as crowdsourcing.

A byproduct of the Internet's vast audience reach, crowdsourcing is a practice in which individuals or companies ask an online community for help in solving a problem or coming up with ideas.

Walmart used crowdsourcing last year as part of a contest called Get on the Shelf in which inventors, entrepreneurs and anyone else was invited to submit product ideas.

The contest resulted in a number of new products getting listed. These included a microwavable suction plate cover, called Plate Topper, an eyeglass repair kit, SnapIt.

The contest’s grand-prize winner, a bottled water brand called Humankind Water is now sold in 200 Walmart stores.

Walmart has just launched a second Get on the Shelf contest and the company views crowdsourcing as viable way to generate innovation on its shelves.

“You are going to see us using it in many formats,” Joel Anderson, president and CEO of told the Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch.

Read the full story here.

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