Sunday, June 3, 2012

3 Valuable Lessons from Walmart's Innovation Contest

Walmart Lab's "Get on the Shelf" Contest

How it was conducted ?

More than 4,000 inventors, entrepreneurs and small businesses from across the country entered the contest to have the opportunity to be carried on and in Walmart U.S. stores.  The most popular products ranged from categories entered were home improvement,  to personalized products items and health and wellness.  Over one million votes were cast by the public to compete for the opportunity to be carried at and in Walmart U.S. stores. The public cast over one million votes through Facebook or text.

Who won the prize ?

The final winners of the Get on the shelf contest: HumanKind WaterPlateTopper and SnapIt Eyeglass Repair Kit which will be sold at


“For a long time, the ability to get a product into a retail store was at the sole discretion of the store buyer,” said Venky Harinarayan, senior vice president of Walmart Global e-commerce. “We are removing these barriers by giving anyone a chance to launch their product at Walmart and reach millions of shoppers nationwide.”
What do we learn from this ?
1. In the standard SIPOC model, the Supplier is at one and the Customer is at the other end - the Companies transform the inpputs from the Supplier through their Process and give the Output to their Customer. Can the Customer be a Supplier ? At the first level Companies went to Customers for their inputs (VOCs). Second level they went to Customers for ideas - both incremental & breakthrough (Open innovation). 
Now at the third level the Customers can create the products and become the Suppliers.
2. Shelfspace is the most precious resource that Walmart has and they are able to attract great ideas from outside by offereing their shelf to the most innovative stuff. 
We need to figure out what is the most valuable resource that we have and others don't have and offer that as a bait to attract the best ideas.
3. They didn't use a panel of judges to decide the most innovative entries internally - they made it purely democratic - almost everybody got a chance to see the product and rate it - Facebook was used to collect the votes. 
Idea evaluation and selection need to be a transparent and democratic process.

Walmart Labs - Background Info:
TECH CRUNCH – Anand Rajaraman is one of Silicon Valley’s less well-known superstars. A successful serial entrepreneur, the Indian born, Stanford educated Rajaraman co-founded Junglee in 1996 which he later sold to Amazon for $250 million. After running Amazon’s technology strategy and inventing its Mechanical Turk crowdsourcing marketplace, Rajaraman then co-founded Cambrian Ventures before going on to found the web guide Kosmix which he sold to Walmart for an undisclosed sum last April.
And now the multi-talented Rajaraman, who is still based in Mountain View, is the SVP at Walmart Global eCommerce as well as the guy in charge of the newly created collaboration network @WalmartLabs. His job, Rajaraman explains, is to make both mobile and social integral to everything that Walmart is doing, both on and offline.
News - Walmart is setting up Innovation Lab in India.
How I came to know about them ? 
Anand and Venky were recently recognized as one of the 100 most creative people in Business by Fast Company


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