In short: Walmart training centers located in Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets across the US will be receiving Oculus Go VR headsets starting next month to further enhance training, the company recently announced. Of the over 17,000 units set to be sent out, four will arrive at every Walmart Supercenter while the latter stores will receive two per store. Those will be used to train every employee across all departments, from managers to customer service employees on the floor, via as many as 45 activity-based virtual training modules built by STRIVR.
Background: The use of either VR or AR in training isn't new. In fact, it was one of the leading edge uses of the technology when the most recent iterations of VR were first revealed and continues to serve that purpose across a variety of fields – from industry and enterprise employees to workers in medical professions. More recently, the technology has also been making its way into other areas of education, including in various schools around the world as a way to cost-effectively provide science lab experiences or for teaching at a distance. In particular, VR is proving to be a very useful tool for children attending school from rural areas of the developed world.
Setting that aside, Walmart says that since launching its own initial training program last year and leading through to tests in the summer has led to employee test score improvements averaging at around a 10 to 15-percent increase. The real-world virtual training, the company claims, acts as a kind of on-the-job training, helping employees retain knowledge and perform duties more confidently as well. Moreover, it has proven exceptionally useful in training employees to use other new technologies. For example, the company introduced a pilot program for its customer pick-up towers earlier last year in 200 stores. This year, it trained associates at ten of those locations using VR rather than instructors.
Impact: Moving forward, Walmart says its VR program will be focused on three target areas of training for all associates. Those include new technologies that are implemented alongside store modernization, empathy and customer service-related skills, and compliance. However, by using the technology to better prepare its employees for work and to handle big changes, Walmart is not only making its own stores more efficient. Its also laying a foundation and setting an example of how these kinds of systems can most effectively be put to use in real-world situations.