Walmart is set to expand its fledgling VR training program in a big way soon; the big box store is going to start a country-wide training program promising to bring over 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to its employees by the year’s end.
The company is sending four headsets to every Walmart Supercenter, and two to every Neighborhood Market and Discount Store. Walmart says in a blogpost that “every associate – including those on the floor who interact with customers the most – will have access to the same training that their managers and department managers do at the Academies.”
Oculus Go is Oculus’ recently released $200 standalone VR headset. Because it doesn’t require a smartphone or other computing device to run, it’s decidedly a good fit for a massive VR training program like Walmart’s.
A pilot test conducted this summer saw 10 stores outfitted with a VR training program on how to operate Walmart Pickup Towers, the company’s latest innovation that lets you pick up your online orders directly from the store through a vending machine-style kiosk.
To boot, Walmart has already developed more than 45 activity-based learning modules using software provided by STRIVR, the same company that creates VR training software for the NBA, NFL and NHL. The company plans to use the Oculus Go headsets to train employees in three main areas: new technology, “soft skills” like empathy and customer service, and compliance.
“We are entering a new era of learning, and Walmart continues to lead the way,” said Derek Belch, CEO of STRIVR, which worked with Walmart on its initial launch of VR in Academies last year. “The power of VR is real, and when offered as a cornerstone of learning and development, it can truly transform the way an organization trains its people.”
The program is said to kick off next month, and presumably will become a part of both new employee training and cross-training of existing employees in new tech such as the company’s Pickup Towers.
“The great thing about VR is its ability to make learning experiential,” said Andy Trainor, Walmart’s senior director of Walmart U.S. Academies. “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 percent – even those associates who simply watched others experience the training saw the same retention boosts.”