Walmart Expands its VR Employee Training To All U.S. Locations

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U.S. Walmart associates will now have access to the same VR training their managers receive at Walmart Academies.

Apparently, VR designed for employee training has proven a massive success at Walmart’s various Academy locations, as the multinational superstore has just announced plans to further expand its immersive training program to every single one of its 4,700 locations within the United States.

Last year Walmart introduced the Oculus Rift to their official employee training facilities, otherwise known as Walmart Academies, as a way to easily and efficiently prepare their managers and department heads for the challenges of retail by placing them in stressful scenarios; most notably, a nightmare-inducing Black Friday “simulator.”

Now, in the wake of their first year utilizing the immersive tech, the company is doubling down its efforts to integrate VR into their training program by delivering VR headsets to every Walmart branch within the United States. Next month Walmart will begin distributing 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to its official locations, granting over 1 million associate employees access to the highly effective VR training program. Every U.S. Walmart supercenter will receive four standalone headsets, while Neighborhood Markets and discount stores will be given two.

“The great thing about VR is its ability to make learning experiential,” speaks Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of Walmart U.S. Academies, in an official release. “When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation. We’ve also seen that VR training boosts confidence and retention while improving test scores 10 to 15 percent – even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts.”

While immersive training would no doubt prove beneficial in nearly all store-related exercises, Walmart is focused on three key areas: new technology, customer service, and compliance.

For instance, the company has already begun using VR to teach associates how to properly operate their new Pickup Towers which are currently rolling out to major supercenters. By allowing employees to go hands-on with the device in VR, they can be properly educated on its operation before it even arrives at their location.

“We are entering a new era of learning, and Walmart continues to lead the way,” adds Derek Belch, CEO of STRIVR. “The power of VR is real, and when offered as a cornerstone of learning and development, it can truly transform the way an organization trains its people.”

STRIVR was a key player in bringing VR to Walmart Academies this past year, so it’s only fitting the platform would be the one to provide that same invaluable education to associates. So far, STRIVR claims to already have over “45 activity-based modules” built using the companies cutting-edge software.

“Walmart was one of the first companies to benefit from VR’s ability to enrich employee education, and its applications will only grow from here,” says Andy Mathis, Oculus’ head of business partnerships. “What makes it so compelling is that costly, difficult, or otherwise-impossible scenarios and simulations become not only possible, but immediately within reach.”

It makes sense Walmart would continue expanding its VR program using Oculus technology. The Oculus Go’s standalone functionality provides stores with a cheap, but effective alternative to the Oculus Rift, which requires a hefty PC to run and can often be a cumbersome process when dealing with first-time VR users. The slip-on, jump-in convenience of the Go, combined with its easy-to-master motion controls, makes this decision a no brainer. As standalone VR continues to become more readily available, there’s no doubt we’ll begin to see the technology further infiltrate its way into the training industry.

This massive expansion of virtual training, combined with the companies plansfor virtual showrooms, as well as its own VR headset and haptic gloves, only further cements Walmart as a retailer committed to next generation shopping.

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About Author

IT and video games are Bryan's topics of interest since a very early age. Video games, the Internet, game consoles and computers became his normal toys, as a result, writing about the infancy of the Web, Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality/Mixed Reality, the games industry and hardware in general. Writing, along with his other interests: programming, hardware, photography, and traveling. Technology, in general, makes him tick.

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