Walmart's Black Friday VR simulator puts workers in a noisy, crowded store
- Walmart is prepping its associates for Black Friday using virtual reality simulations, Vox reports. Using the technology, employees can explore four- to five-minute sessions that attempt to reproduce the audio and visual experience of working at a busy Walmart store, Walmart's senior director of digital operations, Brian McKeel, told Vox.
- The news comes just months after an announcement that the retailer would ship more than 17,000 Oculus Go VR headsets to allow expand VR training to all of its U.S. stores. In June 2017, the company announced the development of 200 training academies across the U.S., and Vox said those facilities are part of a two-year initiative to improve and expand training for Walmart's 1.2 million employee associates.
- The company’s own data shows VR training improves associates' knowledge retention by 10% to 15% compared to that of traditional training like videos, demos and classroom work, Vox said. The tech has also helped to cut down on training time while improving engagement, McKeel told Vox.
Walmart's latest VR expansion signals it has moved far past the exploratory stage that began when it announced its first foray into VR last year. Part of the motivation behind the investment is the company's need to offer a level of consumer experience that can compete with that of online retailers. This effort has also been observed at other brick-and-mortar establishments, including restaurants. Others, like food-maker Tyson, are using VR to improve worker proficiencies and teach injury prevention.
Reducing training time also may be a reason for choosing VR: seasonal hiring during the holidays is a persistent challenge, and staff often must be quickly brought up to speed. That dynamic has spread to the hiring sphere as well, with new technologies like mobile apps helping to create a smoother, faster candidate experience.