Walmart is not new to the world of virtual reality. In 2017, the company introduced VR to the retail space by using the technology to upgrade manager training at its 200 Walmart Academies nationwide. And in the year since that announcement, the company has announced other VR initiatives that seek to transform the way consumers shop for products. At this point, saying that Walmart is going “all in” on VR would be a fairly significant understatement.
In fact, the training programs Walmart rolled out last year have been so successful that just this morning, it was announced that Walmart is doubling-down on the technology and expanding VR training to nearly 5,000 stores across the United States. This means that more than 1 million Walmart associates, across every store in the U.S, will have access to the same cutting-edge training that Academies have been using over the last year.
STRIVR has been with Walmart every step of the way, and will continue the partnership as VR training becomes a key part of the Walmart’s employee learning and development journey. Starting this month, we will send four Oculus Go headsets to every Walmart Supercenter and two to every Neighborhood Market and Discount Store. With about 17,000 headsets in stores by the end of the year, every single 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.
“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.”
Walmart leverages the STRIVR platform to create, manage, and deploy virtual training on all aspects of store operations. It allows the company to monitor who is using VR and how they have been using it, and also helps to analyze behavior and common patterns that arise during training. This is all being delivered via Oculus Go headsets–check out our bullish take on the Oculus Go when it was introduced earlier this year–with Walmart placing the headsets in its stores across the nation.
Our CEO Derek Belch has talked many times about VR being a game changer in the enterprise space and the transformational role it will play in the future of training. This commitment from Walmart marks a milestone in that journey. As he said in Walmart’s own announcement: “…this is a new era of learning, and Walmart continues to lead the way. 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 and develops its people.”
Ultimately, it’s about improving human performance–using immersive experiences to change individual behavior for the better. STRIVR is built around this mission, and Walmart’s expansive use of VR is the ultimate validation of the power of immersive learning to do just that. Walmart is embarking on one of the biggest expansions of VR training in history, giving VR yet another defining moment.
We can’t wait to see where it goes from here.