Going through the VR and actually feeling like I’m physically in [the store] and making those decisions, it makes me feel very comfortable going straight to the sales floor because I’ve already done it.
-A Walmart associate
Retailers continue to adjust to rapidly changing standards for workplace and customer safety. Using VR for retail health and safety training is an excellent way to train associates on hygiene and sanitation practices because it offers a safe environment to experience situations without risk.
Rolling out new processes
Ever-evolving circumstances require new processes and/or equipment that associates must learn. With VR training in the workplace, associates get hands-on learning to practice performing the new process and using new equipment, which shortens their time to proficiency and doesn’t require trainers to travel nationwide. More importantly, associates are on the floor contributing sooner because training times are significantly reduced – in some cases, from an entire day down to 15 minutes.
Plant safety training at major US food processor
Read Walmart’s story
It’s impossible for in-store or contact center associates to know what customers are going through, but every customer deserves great service. VR training allows retail employees to walk in the shoes of their customers so they’re better prepared to provide excellent, empathetic service. In the headset, associates are transported from the store or contact center to inside the home of the customer. They experience the customer’s life, rather than simply read or watch videos about it, which helps them relate more sincerely and offer better assistance.
With seasonal spikes, retailers need to get supply chain workers productive on the job as quickly as possible. VR training helps test workers on the proper packing of items into a box, including everything from choosing the right box size to labeling. The goal is to improve speed to productivity. Within the VR training experiences, workers are also exposed to warehouse safety advisories, which are always top-of-mind in this type of work.
Retail 360: Transforming retail associate training
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New hire assessment
It is generally difficult to objectively assess employees in the company-specific tasks they’ll face in the next role. VR-based assessments test aptitude for a given position during hiring or promoting, from front-line associates to middle management to executive level. In the headset, associates face real-life situations – like calming an angry shopper or delivering effective workplace feedback – that test knowledge of store departments, decision-making, leadership capacities, and soft skills to place employees in the best-fitting job. Utilizing a virtual experience immersive learning simulation can add an additional layer of insight, especially for skills that are traditionally hard to measure, that can help paint a more accurate picture of candidates.
We use VR to assess associates’ listening and problem-solving skills to see if, for example, they’re a good fit for a team leader role.
-Heather Durtschi, Sr. Director of Content Design & Development, Walmart
Good managers often demonstrate a combination of strong communication skills, adaptability, resilience, coaching, and empathy. Yet, many managers often lack experience in one or more of these areas. Using virtual reality for retail associate training allows workers to practice these skills with simulated coaching sessions and can add huge value. At the end of the Virtual Reality manager training, learners watch and listen to themselves for self-evaluation, an important tactic for long-term retention of the material and to better assess their impact on other team members.
Culture and values
Values-driven organizations always are looking for ways to reinforce their culture, as it contributes to a strong employee experience and customer experience. During onboarding, new team members are learning and applying company values with VR training. In the headset, new hire training times are significantly reduced, as the experience takes learners around a virtual store, simulating common interactions between team members and customers while highlighting each core value.
times more likely to recall all six Sprouts values