To enhance the training of its employee associates, Walmart is investing in virtual reality (VR) to help employees experience retail situations like the Black Friday rush. With its initiative, 17,000 headsets from Oculus Go will reportedly arrive at 4,700 stores in the United States, Vox reported.
Walmart Senior Director of Digital Operations Brock McKeel said, according to the outlet, “The biggest advantage for us at Walmart is our associates. Anything we can do to make our associates better, and help them take care of their customers, is an advantage for us.” According to research from the retailer, VR is helping employees remember new information. That is, they reportedly retain 10 to 15 percent more information through VR learning than through classroom work, videos and online demos.
The technology, for instance, can help associates experience the Black Friday rush. While the facilitator can pause the simulation, “the simulation is meant to put employees on the spot, letting them adjust to the pressure, noise, and expectations of Black Friday shoppers to gain situational awareness before the big day,” according to a Vox reporter who tried the technology.
The news comes as Walmart announced in September that it was expanding its employee training and development program using virtual reality (VR) to its more than 1 million associates in the United States. Four Oculus VR headsets were to be sent to every Walmart supercenter and two units to every Neighborhood Market and discount store.
The idea was to give every associate access to the same training that department managers and managers have access to at the Walmart U.S. Academies. In a blog post at the time, Walmart Senior Director of the Academies Andy Trainor said, “The great thing about VR is its ability to make learning experiential. When you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation.”
At the time it was reported that Walmart would use the technology to train associates in new technology, compliance and soft skills such as empathy, as well as customer service and compliance.