Walmart proves that VR is the ultimate empathy machine 

Walmart is a retail giant that knows how to bring in sales on Black Friday. We’re talking about an average of 115 million shoppers descending on their stores, hungry for deals. The shopping giant also knows the impending chaos that goes hand-in-hand with this day.

Walmart Stores that used VR training simulations had an increase of 10-15% in sales versus those that didn’t.

Having well-trained staff is crucial. They need to be equipped to deal with customer frustrations, conflict management, and the occasional outburst. Who gets to buy the last pack of Apple airtags is critical to maintaining the organisation’s brand identity and ensuring the customer experience remains delightful!

Scenes of carnage on Black Friday have precipitated the need for a new approach to employee training at Walmart (Reuters, 2017)

With over 5000 stores nationwide, Walmart has had to look for an innovative way to ensure they train their teams at scale and in a memorable and impactful way that won’t incur colossal time and logistical constraints. Their training tool of choice ended up being Virtual Reality.  

VR Application in Action 

Telling new employees just how insane Black Friday at Walmart gets is one thing. Having them experience it is another. By implementing a VR solution, Walmart bridged the divide between theory and throwing their staff to the proverbial wolves. The Black Friday Experience implemented by Walmart was a training programme that simulated the single most important and most chaotic day in the retailer’s calendar – Black Friday. Complete with chaos, disruption, and all-out pandemonium, the application allowed staff to experience just what they were in for and, in doing so, equipped them with the necessary skills to navigate the chaos and confidently prepared them for the onslaught of shoppers on the actual day.  

Incorporating immersive tech into their training helped prepare Walmart employees real stressful situations they were likely to find themselves in.

Equipping their 1.5 million employees for Black Friday was simple. Each staff member donned a VR headset and hit play. Once in the simulation, they found themselves surrounded by shoppers who would frantically pass them with trolleys bulging with merchandise. Different possible difficult situations arise in the simulation. The employee is given time to ask or answer questions based on how best to address the chaos they are presented with. But it wasn’t just conflict management and tussles over items that the staff got to manage in the VR programme.

Other simulations they got to work through included managing long lines, rethinking how to quickly put together disorganised displays, and addressing spills in different aisles without having to block them off and preventing further sales. The VR simulation supported all of these situations, assisting the employees in testing their skills and building up their confidence, knowledge and empathy in a way that would set them, and ultimately their customers, up for success on Black Friday and beyond.  

ROI Measures

The ROI from the Black Friday training programme was a resounding success. Not only was the time dedicated to training staff decreased by hours to mere minutes, but the organisation reported that the stores that used the VR training simulations had an increase of 10-15% in sales versus those that didn’t. Why? Staff who had used VR had essentially already experienced the impending chaos and figured out ways to address the inevitable challenges accompanying a day of extreme shopping.

Walmart’s VR training helped employees prepare for Black Friday, and ultimately increased sales by 10-15%!

Walmart also reported that the same staff felt more confident in their ability to address customer needs and think independently. Because the programme helped staff feel more confident in their abilities, the organisation also noticed an increase in morale and dedication towards delivering the best customer experience possible.  

Walmart is a shining example of how using VR for training can transform the learning experience for staff without disrupting the customer experience.  

Immersive technology has the power to engage and delight your users.