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Wal-Mart Offers Entrepreneurs a Chance to Compete for Shelf Space

Having Wal-Mart pick up your product can turbocharge your sales. Today, the retail giant announces a crowdsourcing contest for entrepreneurs, business owners and inventors to compete for shelf space.

To be part of the social contest, called "Get on the Shelf," entrepreneurs need to submit a video about their product by July 31, according to Wal-Mart. The winner's product will be sold on Walmart.com and potentially in some stores, the Bentonville, Ark.-based company says.

This is the second annual contest by the company. Any U.S. entrepreneur is eligible to enter, and Wal-Mart says it will take a keen interest in U.S.-made products, in line with its commitment to increase sourcing of U.S. goods. In January, the retailer said it would purchase an additional $50 billion worth of U.S. goods over the next 10 years.

"Get on the Shelf taps into the spirit of American innovation and gives our customers a voice in selecting the products that will help them live better," says Joel Anderson, president and chief executive of Walmart.com, in a statement.

Related: An Inside Look At Being a Wal-Mart Supplier

Product submissions can fall into any of the various categories found on Walmart.com, including electronics, home goods, toys and apparel. Wal-Mart merchants will screen entries first. Then the public will be asked to vote on their favorite product. As many as 20 finalists will be selected and featured in a video series that will be released on the contest website.

Up to five winners will be able to sell their products on Walmart.com. One grand-prize winner will be selected based on the number of pre-orders from customers and may get the opportunity to sell their products in some physical Wal-Mart stores.

In last year's contest, bottled-water brand Humankind Water, which donates 100 percent of its profits to helping get clean water to children across the world, was the audience favorite and is now sold in Wal-Mart stores in Connecticut and Maryland. Runners up included an eyeglass-repair kit and a dinner-plate topper that turns a plate into an air-tight container.

Related: Small Companies, Big Hearts: Leading Social Entrepreneurs

Catherine Clifford is a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com.

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