How VR is Transforming the Way We Train Associates

Walmart and Oculus Go

The headsets have been used in training at Walmart Academies, which are special centers created to teach advanced retail skills.

One year after it introduced virtual reality (VR) headsets to upgrade training at Walmart Academies worldwide, the Bentonville, Ark. -based mega-retailer is rolling the headsets out to all stores in the United States, bringing the same level of training to more than 1 million associates.

Walmart clearly believes virtual reality has a bright future in its stores.

As Andy Trainor, Walmart's senior director of Walmart U.S. Academies, explains "When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation".

Last year, Walmart opted to use Oculus Rift at its training academies in order to help around 150,000 employees learn about customer service and management. A very interesting tidbit is that Trainor reports that when employees watch others using the VR headset for training, their retention is boosted even when not using the headset. The headsets will give employees access to 45 activity-based modules created by VR software company STRIVR. Now, the cheaper and untethered Oculus Go VR headset is set to be used to train employees in-store. The modules are created to help associates learn information quicker and improve retention.

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What they will be used for: The headsets will train associates in everything from operating new technology on the shop floor to soft skills like empathy and customer service.The actual teaching content has been designed for the retailer by startup Strivr.

"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 Andy Mathis, Oculus' head of business partnerships.

The technology was piloted at the store level in 10 locations this summer, specifically on the new Pickup Tower units - training the associates on the in-store units before they were even installed.

We have a lot of people who are cross-trained to use the tower now and they can help customers, which is unbelievable.

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