- Walmart has announced it will send virtual reality headsets to all its stores in the U.S. after testing VR training for the past year. Walmart said it saw an increase in training test scores of 10% to 15% after introducing the VR-based training.
- Each Walmart supercenter will receive four of the Oculus VR headsets, while each Neighborhood Market and discount store will receive two. In total, the company will distribute more 17,000 Oculus Go headsets throughout the country. The headsets will give every Walmart associate access to the training provided to managers and department managers at Walmart's Academies.
- The headset holds more than 45 activity-based modules, created with software provided by STRIVR. Associates will be trained in three areas: new tech, soft skills and compliance. This summer, 10 Walmart stores tested the training initiative on employees learning to use new pickup tower units. The employees had no other teacher other than the headset, but reported good results.
Walmart has been on the cutting edge of its training imperatives with technology solutions designed to prepare employees for real-world situations, including dealing with high traffic shopping days. But it's not just fancy tech that has made the retail giant's learning initiatives shine. The company has rebranded its employee training and development as a benefit, costing employees only $1 a day to participate. The company has promised to pay for degree programming in business and supply chain fields, with plans to expand into tech degrees if the program is successful. Tens of thousands of employees have applied for first wave access to online degree programming.
Walmart has also taken tech beyond its L&D initiatives. The company recently tested robots that can check inventory and stock shelves, leaving employees open to serve customers. The 2-foot robots are programmed to move up and down aisles so they can scan merchandise for out-of-stock, mislabeled, missing or incorrectly placed items.
Workforce initiatives have been a recent priority for the retailer, which kicked off its annual shareholder meeting in May with several announcements related to its store associates, including early details about the VR training program. Other efforts included an in-store training and engagement video game based on the popular Sims game that was rolled out for the company's training academies and other uses. Walmart also said then it had invested in educational benefits for workers, loosened its dress code for store employees and rolled out a new scheduling app.