@WalmartLabs’ Crowdsourced Product Selection Contest Wraps, Charitable Bottled Water Wins

Walmart’s attempt at crowdsourcing product selection has come to a close. The company has announced the winners of its Get on the Shelf contest, which was launched out of @WalmartLabs, the digital technology division of the retailer, earlier this year. You may know of @WalmartLabs as the startup-like group within Walmart which is now home to a number of acquired startups itself, including KosmixOneRiotGrabble, and Small Society.

After 4,000 submissions and 1 million+ votes, the winners of the contest include charitable bottled water company HumanKind Water, San Francisco-based kitchen product PlateTopper, and the SnapIt Eyeglass Repair Kit.

Contest voters were goodhearted enough to award Philadelphia-based HumanKind Water with the top spot in the contest. The company, which donates 100% of its net profits towards clean drinking water in underdeveloped communities worldwide, will be available online at Walmart.com in the near future and will be placed on shelf in select Walmart stores. It’s an interesting choice for grand prize, given Walmart’s reputation in years past for contributing to sweatshop conditions for workers in these same underdeveloped communities. Walmart shoppers do have a heart after all, not just questionable wardrobe choices, it appears.

Runners up in the contest include San Francisco-based PlateTopper, the brainchild of Michael Tseng, which transforms ordinary dinner plates into airtight storage containers. Tseng started developing the product since 2005, while at Princeton. The product is live now on Walmart.com for $19.77.

Third place winner SnapIt Eyeglass Repair Kit is perhaps a bit less sexy than storage containers (um, maybe?), but still quite practical. The invention allows eyeglass wearers to repair their frames in 30 seconds. The design uses a feeder tab to guide the tiny screws into place, which is then snapped off when the repair is complete. It, too, will be available on Walmart.com soon.

An interesting side note about how HumanKind ended up with the Grand Prize: the company turned its website (still live as of today) into a “war room” of sorts dedicated to getting contest votes by including social sharing buttons, videos, an email sign-up and embedded mini-Facebook page. (Very interesting use of Facebook in a frame, actually). The strategy worked, as all homepage visitors were encouraged to give the product a vote. Today, new visitors are now being encouraged to donate directly to the cause.

@WalmartLabs says that within the first day of contest voting, which began March 7, almost 95% of the participants received a vote via Facebook or text. The top five products were those for home improvement, personalized products, health/wellness/fitness, fashion apparel/home and outdoor home. Walmart tells us that its focus is now on getting the winners on the shelf, and that it will then evaluate options for another similar program in the future. But as of now, no decisions on that front have been made.