September 24, 2013, 3:30 PM

Walmart.com debuts a weekly web video series

Episodes run for five weeks and highlight inventors from its Get on the Shelf contest.

Lead Photo

The chain's e-commerce headquarters.

Walmart.com Inc. this week launched the first of five weekly web videos highlighting products invented by the 20 finalists in its Get on the Shelf contest. Done in the style of a reality TV show, the videos last about 15 minutes apiece, during which four finalists present their creations to a panel of Wal-Mart judges who give comments and ask questions. Consumers have 72 hours to vote on their favorite products after watching an episode, with one vote allowed per day, Wal-Mart says. The winning products from each week will then become available on Walmart.com.

Shoppers must use their Facebook credentials to vote in the contest. After they do, Wal-Mart displays advertisements related to their selection in a pop-up window. For instance, deals on pet food appear when voting for the dog wheelchair featured in the first episode.

Get on the Shelf is a project from Wal-Mart’s research and development arm @WalmartLabs. It debuted last year with 4,000 product video submissions that consumers voted on more than 1 million times, narrowing the entrants down to three winners. Those three products became available on Walmart.com and in select stores, the retailer says. Wal-Mart declines to provide sales figures on the products.

Last year’s winners were: Humankind Water, a bottled water company that uses proceeds to fund clean water projects around the world; PlateTopper, which turns dinner plates into airtight food storage containers; and SnapIt Eyeglass Repair Kit, which the inventor claims will fix eyeglasses in 30 seconds.

This year Wal-Mart is also rewarding a grand-prize winner, based on the number of preorders for the product, who will receive additional online marketing support and meet with Wal-Mart merchandisers, the retailer says. It selected the 20 finalists based on their popularity among “hundreds of thousands” of votes, a spokeswoman says, adding that 95% of this year’s video entrants received votes. Thousands of consumers from all 50 states submitted entries, she says.

“Last year when we ran the contest for the first time, we encountered so many American entrepreneurs who had interesting backgrounds and compelling stories about why they developed their product, but we had no way to elevate that during the contest,” she says. “The web series allows us to do just that while also giving customers the opportunity to hear from the finalists themselves before voting for which product they’d like to purchase from Walmart.com.”  

The first episode of the web series features products in the “Live Better” theme, meaning they are designed to help improve the world, according to the retailer. For instance, the first contestant showed off his collectible, scented stuffed animals that help save endangered species because, for each sale, his company donates $0.05 to habitat preservation organizations. The other themes are “Around the House,” “Kid Stuff,” “Great Gadgets” and “Made in America.”

This summer, retail chain Target Corp. also launched a reality video series for the web, supporting its back-to-school marketing. Wal-Mart in August launched its own version of post-Thanksgiving shopping holiday Cyber Monday for back-to-school shoppers.

Walmart.com is No. 4 in Internet Retailer’s 2013 Top 500 Guide.

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