Walmart turns to VR and Oculus Go for associates' training

Walmart and Oculus Go

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

The software Walmart uses with the Oculus headsets is provided by STRIVR Labs, which specializes in recreating real environments in VR for training purposes. The organization has stated to launch its VR training efforts by October, sending 4 headsets to every SuperCenter and 2 to every Neighbourhood Market and Discount Store.

VR is another way Walmart is leveraging technology to better empower its associates at the store level and beyond.

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

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Walmart has been using VR to train employees in its Walmart Academies, which are centers in some stores that offer regional managers the chance to learn more advanced retail skills, since 2017.

VR training is coming for more than 1 million Walmart associates, launching across the country next month, according to a company blog. 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. Now, the cheaper and untethered Oculus Go VR headset is set to be used to train employees in-store. STRIVR's platform delivers realistic, repeatable and scalable training content, which helps associates learn information more quickly and retain it better.

Walmart said it is using the headsets to train within three key areas: new technology, compliance, and soft skills like empathy and customer service. "In a pilot test this summer, 10 stores used VR for training on new Pickup Tower units in their stores". All the training for those towers was performed with the Oculus Go with no in-person teachers. The big box retailer first experimented with VR in its training academies a year ago and now says the program has proved its worth, with employees reporting boosts to confidence and technology familiarity after training on the headsets.

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