“That’s where VR works well. We can create scenarios that may never happen (like severe weather training) or situations that happen all the time, but we don’t want to disrupt our stores to give associates firsthand experience,” says Andy Trainor, senior director of Walmart U.S. Academies. “VR lets them explore these sorts of scenarios in a firsthand way.”
As part of an ongoing collaboration with STRIVR, a leading provider of immersive VR training, and Oculus, Walmart is reshaping the way businesses train a global workforce at scale. Last month, Walmart announced its plan to expand its pilot VR training program by delivering 17,000 Oculus Go headsets to stores across the country, making it one of the largest deployments of its kind in history.
Participants in Walmart’s early VR training program reported a 30 percent higher training satisfaction using the Rift and associated modules developed by STRIVR, versus other training materials and methods. What’s more, 70 percent of employees who trained on Rift outperformed groups trained with other materials and techniques. What started as a pilot program with a few modules has grown to a fully stocked training catalogue, drawing on STRIVR’s early experience with science-based VR sports training.
“It went so well we began thinking about ways to introduce VR to more associates,” Trainor says.
How many more? Try over a million. To pull this off, Walmart turned to Oculus Go, the all-in-one VR headset that went on sale earlier this year.
“Oculus Go will allow us to ship headsets to our 4,500 stores and enable more than 1 million associates to experience VR training,” Trainor says. “We’re excited about bringing a VR experience to our associates who interact with our customers the most.”
The web of logistical challenges involved in such a feat are enough to make your head spin, but results coming out of Walmart Academies — associates reported a boost in overall confidence and morale, for instance — proved too hard to ignore and spoke to the transformative power of immersive training.