OPERATIONS

Walmart launches online ‘Get on the Shelf’ reality series

BY Dan Berthiaume

Bentonville, Ark. — Walmart is launching its first-ever original reality series developed for the web. The new weekly web series highlights 20 finalists in the Walmart Get on the Shelf contest, which lets entrepreneurs present products to Walmart customers.

Each week, four different finalists will showcase their product in an effort to gain public votes and get their item sold on Walmart.com, and possibly in Walmart stores. The five weekly "webisodes," which go live on Tuesdays from Sept. 24 through Oct. 22, feature a group of finalists under the same theme, such as Kid Stuff or Great Gadgets. The webisodes give viewers a chance to learn more about the entrepreneurs behind the inventions and watch as they pitch their product to a panel of Walmart.com judges.

After each weekly webisode, voters have 72 hours to cast their votes for the winner, who will have their product sold on Walmart.com. A grand prize winner will also be selected based on the number of preorders of the product, and will receive additional support marketing from Walmart.com plus an introduction to the Walmart stores’ merchandising team to potentially be sold in Walmart stores.

"Get on the Shelf celebrates the resilient and tenacious spirit of American entrepreneurs, many of whom have been working hard for a big break like this," said Kelly Thompson, senior VP of merchandising for Walmart.com. "The web series creates more exposure for finalists to share their inspiring stories, which makes for captivating reality TV that’s also interactive since American consumers can vote for the next great product at Walmart.com."

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OPERATIONS

Toys ‘R’ Us holiday hiring flat with last year

BY Dan Berthiaume

Wayne, N.J. – Toys “R” Us, Inc. plans to hire 45,000 employees to staff its stores and distribution centers nationwide for the upcoming holiday season. This number is basically flat from last year’s holiday staffing totals.

Hiring for positions in stores starts this week and will continue through December. Seasonal workers at Toys “R” Us stores fill a variety of positions ranging from sales associates to inventory replenishment employees, Additional seasonal jobs are available, including those designated specifically to help fulfill orders resulting from the company’s omnichannel offerings. Dedicated omnichannel teams work to ensure a seamless in-store and online shopping experience. Employment opportunities are also available at the company’s 10 distribution centers across the country, which began hiring in July and will continue through November.

Toys "R" Us widened its loss in the second quarter on lower sales at its stores in the United States and Europe. The company reported a loss of $113 million, compared with a year-earlier loss of $36 million.

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Staples introduces Staples Connect app

BY Dan Berthiaume

Framingham, Mass. – Staples is introducing Staples Connect, an offering that lets customers’ home or office technology interact and be controlled by a single app. With the touch of a button, Staples Connect lets customers shut down their office, turning off lights, lowering shades and locking doors, while at the same time turning on their lights and heat at home.

Staples Connect consists of a multi-platform app and universal hub that allow a multitude of devices to talk to each other. The Staples Connect Hub, powered by Linksys, will be available online and in a limited number of Staples stores for $99 this November. Staples Connect uses a platform developed by Zonoff Inc., which features a free, single app. Installation will be available through Staples EasyConnect and can also be performed by customers.

“Staples Connect gives consumers looking for a home or office automation solution a broad selection of products to choose from, featuring the top names in safety, lighting, heating and cooling,” said Mike Edwards, executive VP, merchandising, Staples. “Staples Connect uses products from the biggest and best brands, as well as innovative newcomers, like DoorBot wireless doorbells and the ivee Wi-Fi voice-activated assistant. Our app makes it easy for customers to control their entire home or office from their smartphone, tablet or laptop, wherever they may be.”

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