I would like to draw attention to the three recent initiatives by Walmart that reflect the brand's strategy in matters of digital communication:
- Creating a bond with consumers: "Get on the Shelf" is a competition where one can propose a product ("innovative" / "fun" / "cute"), using a video. Netizens are then asked to vote for it, and the winning product is subsequently referenced at Walmart stores. The statistics are impressive: between 9th January and 22nd February, 4,000 products were submitted (a refrigerated 'lunch-bag' / a repair kit for glasses / water sold to benefit people without access to water, etc.). On March 7th, the first day of voting, 93% of the products elicited votes. Around 55,000 votes were received everyday, for 92,000 visits. The 10 finalists have just been announced:
- Creating links with marketing teams and helping brands to grow: Walmart offers brands they work with a "Retail Development Kit". This includes offering them several platforms on which to project themselves: joint TV commercials / advertising on video screens in shops / advertisements on the walmart.com site and - even more innovative - the opportunity to "piggyback" on Walmart's social media programmes - such as "My Local Walmart" on Facebook - and thus access the 10 million Facebook fans of the brand, store by store.
- Equipping itself with a digital laboratory for ideas: these initiatives all spring from @WalmartLabs, a structure inaugurated in April 2011. This team describes itself as an "innovator in social and mobile commerce" - "this is where we define the future of commerce". One of its most ambitious projects is the "Social Genome": "The Social Genome is a giant knowledge base that captures interesting entities and relationships of the social world. Example entities include people, events, topics, products, locations, and organizations. Example relationships include a person being interested in a topic, a person attending an event, an event is about a certain topic, an organization is associated with a product, and so on".
Walmart, in just one year, armed itself with a true digital strategy - by buying start-ups in Silicon Valley and locating all its digital operations in California (AdAge tells us that "In April, Walmart purchased Twitter app developer, Kosmix, for $300 million and instantly refashioned it as Walmart Labs, its social and e-commerce research-and-development unit in Mountain View, Calif. Within months, Walmart Labs had added advertising network OneRiot and mobile app developer Small Society - acquisitions aimed at grabbing talent - and had managed to assemble a formidable presence in Silicon Valley").