Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Walmart is widening its VR-based employee-training program in the U.S., shipping four Oculus Go VR headsets to each Walmart Supercenter and two to smaller Neighborhood Market stores starting in October, for a total of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets by the end of 2018. The retailer first tried out VR for employee training a year ago, and is expanding it due to employee feedback that it boosted their confidence and familiarity with technology. VR software company STRIVR has created 45 activity-based modules for the employees.

According to ZDNet, Walmart plans to use VR programs to train employees in “new technology, compliance and soft skills like empathy and customer service.” With regard to technology, Walmart is prepping employees “for the wave of in-store technology it’s rolling out as part of its overall digital strategy.”

“VR training is particularly helpful for learning new tech,” stated the company on its blog, going on to report that in a pilot test this last summer, “10 stores used VR for training on new Pickup Tower units in their stores.” “VR is allowing associates to be trained before the towers are even installed — no teachers required,” it added. “This will be key as Walmart continues to roll out new tech to stores.”

VR’s capabilities have been a good match for workplace training, where it is “not only practical but also potentially more effective than training via humans or basic computer programs and apps.” Through its case study, Walmart “found that employees benefited by the ability to make mistakes in a safe environment, and came away with skills and confidence unique to this type of experience.”

“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” said Oculus head of business partnerships Andy Mathis. “What makes it so compelling is that costly, difficult, or otherwise-impossible scenarios and simulations become not only possible, but immediately within reach.”