Walmart will distribute 17,000 Oculus VR headsets to all U.S. stores beginning in October 2018, to train more than 1 million Walmart store associates on how to use the technology, according to a company blog post.
With this expansion of the VR training program, every associate — including those on the floor — will have access to the same training that their managers and department managers get at the company’s 200+ training Academies. The company first started training store managers in 2017.
Walmart plans to use VR to train associates in three main areas: new technology, soft skills like empathy and customer service, and compliance. In a pilot test this 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 – with no teachers required.
“The great thing about VR is its ability to make learning experiential,” said Andy Trainor, Senior Director of Walmart U.S. Academies in a statement. “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% — even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts.”
Brock McKeel, Senior Director of Digital Operations at Walmart, worked with Trainor to bring VR training to associates, and said there are already more than 45 activity-based modules using software provided by STRIVR. STRIVR’s platform is designed to deliver realistic, repeatable and scalable training content that can help associates learn information more quickly and retain it better.