Walmart is training its staff using the power of VR headsets

24 Sep 2018

Walmart store. Image: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Walmart is using virtual reality to train staff across the US.

Last year, US retail juggernaut Walmart introduced virtual reality (VR) technology into its employee training programme at its Walmart Academies across the US.

The pilot programme was a roaring success, so the company is now going to train more than 1m Walmart associates, with Oculus VR headsets earmarked for all stores in the country.

The technology will help train staff in crucial areas such as new technology, compliance procedures, and soft skills such as customer service and empathy.

VR boosts learning outcomes

Andy Trainor, senior director of Walmart US Academies, said that the technology can make learning more experiential. He added that the results show the positive impact of the training method. “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 15pc – even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts.”

Every Walmart ‘supercenter’ is receiving four headsets while each ‘neighbourhood market’ and discount store will get two units each. Walmart leaders hope that the technology will give every associate access to the same training that their managers and department leads experience at the Walmart Academies.

Realistic scenario training

The company is using the STRIVR software platform to deliver realistic, repeatable, scalable training content. CEO of STRIVR, Derek Belch, said: “The power of VR is real and, when offered as a cornerstone of learning and development, it can truly transform the way an organisation trains its people.”

The new training is allowing staff to be trained on processes where new equipment is not even installed yet, which means they will be confident with new technology once it arrives in the workplace.

VR training is especially effective for staff as it is like a real-life experience, where team members can make mistakes and learn by ‘doing’ in a low-risk way.

“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.

Walmart store. Image: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects