Walmart is using virtual reality to train employees

Walmart will begin using Oculus VR headsets to train employees across the country (Courtesy Walmart)

Virtual Reality (VR) technology is being applied to a broad range of applications, from architectural rendering to medical training. Now, retail giant Walmart is introducing the use of Oculus GO headsets to upgrade training at outlets across the country.

Walmart plans to ship four of the headsets to every Walmart Supercenter, and two headsets to each Neighborhood Market. While these numbers do not seem large at first, there are approximately 4,000 Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets across the country. In total, over 17,000 Oculus GO headsets will be shipped to these retailers.

An Oculus VR headset (Courtesy Walmart)

Andy Trainor, Walmart’s Senior Director of Walmart U.S Academies, views VR as providing the “ability to make learning experiential,” going so far as to state that “when you watch a module through the headset, your brain feels like you actually experienced a situation.” In trial runs, Walmart has seen VR training increasing employee performance results by 10 to 15 percent.

The initiative is an expansion of Walmart’s preexisting use of VR technology for training, which was rolled out last year. According to TechCrunch, the rollout of Oculus GO headsets is an expansion of the retailer’s ongoing collaboration with STRIVR Labs, an immersive learning and training provider. The program brought PC-connected Oculus Rifts to 200 Walmart Academy training centers.

Similar to other brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Lowe’s, Walmart has been introducing a number of efficiency boosting measures to compete in a market increasingly shifting online. Walmart views the proliferation of VR training as an essential tool for keeping employees up-to-date on new devices like the Pickup Tower units, which allows customers to order online and pick up on site, found in hundreds of stores.