Wal-Mart, one of the biggest companies on the planet, is testing the ultimate form of Crowd Sourcing - customer's choosing what new and interesting products will be stocked in their stores. Could this be the end of the retail buyer as we know it? ...I doubt it, but providing the appropriate safeguards are put in place, it's certainly a wonderful example of the ultimate form 'pull' merchandising. And certainly a refreshing merchandising initiative from a monolith so often constipated with intimidating and aggressive 'buying' bureaucracy. Wal-Mart has invited merchandise applications from the 'world at large' to be stocked in their stores, with success dependant on voting from the stores' customers on their website. Please read this wonderful article in the FT which answers all the questions anyone may have.
With the world and customers demanding evermore customisation and personalisation this has to be a massive step in the right direction for this enormous and rather un-wielding business - but get it right and the rewards will be mind boggling!