Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality are next big digital disruptions at Walmart

The retail environment is constantly changing, resulting in fresh and memorable consumer interactions. Businesses are using technical hybridisations to differentiate themselves and cater to their customers in new ways. People are already doing their grocery shopping and browsing eCommerce websites on the internet. In the same way that the internet changed the world, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are poised to fully transform the shopping experience and industry. With the trend of bringing innovation in every aspect, retailers are now using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology to create immersive experiences that digitally connect customers.

Walmart, with over 10,000 stores in 24 countries and over 2.2 million associates worldwide, with nearly 1.5 million in the United States alone has been one of the world’s biggest employers for decades, and its success has been virtually unstoppable. Increased investments in emerging technologies have aided this development in recent years, helping Walmart to become one of today’s most creative businesses.

Walmart adopted virtual reality headsets in its training centres, dubbed “Walmart Academies,” to enhance employee experience, present new ways of training staff or to determine which workers possess the necessary skills to fill middle management roles. Along with training, Walmart also incorporated augmented reality in the hands of Shoppers.

Walmart offers training at its dedicated Academy as well as in its hundreds of locations.

Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality for Training

Black Friday is one of Walmart’s most difficult virtual reality situations. Although Black Friday is a fantastic sales tool, it is a nightmare for front-line employees. Hundreds of customers, hundreds of different deals and special offers, long queues, statements, grievances, cash register strikes, and so on. Walmart provides VR training programmes for such scenarios to employees in about 200 Walmart Academies. Multiple scenarios unique to various roles are included in the VR module that the organisation uses for VR preparation. Managers, customer service agents, and, of course, store sales people all have responsibilities. Virtual reality immerses the students in scenarios that are difficult to replicate in real life. Or, to put it another way, such conditions are unsuitable for preparation when they do arise in real life. They gain unlimited time to prepare staff to tackle such incidents by creating a Black Friday scenario in VR. Any scene in virtual reality can be rerun as many times as necessary to help the trainees better handle the “crisis”. In a similar manner we @InfiVR are working with similar customers to provide virtual reality based soft skill training to sales executives, or customer facing associates. We have taken virtual reality based soft skills training to a new level including artificial intelligence in it, which provides behavioural pattern recognition to provide near real learning experience.

The organisation wants to make the training as immersive as possible, even when the worker is not able to travel to academy for whatever reason they may have. Therefore, Walmart incorporates virtual reality into its shops. For the same, Walmart launched a national scale VR training campaign with the ultimate target of equipping all of its US locations with virtual reality headsets to allow Academy-level training right in the shops.

The Academy curriculum is aimed at a smaller group of people, while the in-store training is aimed at a much larger group. Loaders, janitors, and store employees will all benefit from the VR-based instruction. Walmart would expect their workers to use their talents more effectively and confidently as a result of virtual reality’s improved engagement and retention, resulting in increased productivity.

Hiring new employees

Apart from training, Walmart’s management also uses the VR application to assess retail associates’ knowledge of their respective and other divisions, decision-making and leadership abilities, as well as soft skills.Testing based on the frameworks mentioned above assists Walmart management in assigning job roles and positions to workers in the company based on their performance and productivity levels. The implementation of virtual reality in Walmart was a success, as it was well received by both workers and management. Employees’ compensation packages represented the manner in which they received promotions and increments after being subjected to testing focused on the use of virtual reality technology.

Walmart’s key message in launching this VR initiative for training is that they assist employers in gaining skills that they can apply outside of Walmart.

Augmented Reality for Shopping Experience

The company is now placing AR in the hands of their loyal customers, adding to their continuing drive towards a high-tech in-store experience. Based on AR technology, Walmart offers the Garnier Virtual Shade Selector solution. It is a shelf-based interactive display screen that allows customers to test permanent Garnier hair shades. Customers first take a one-minute diagnostic test, after which they can digitally try on a selection of recommended Garnier shades using integrated Modiface 3D technology. The new hair shades are digitally applied to the customer’s live video image on the interactive display screen.

The new AR tool i.e. AR scanner is also introduced on Walmart’s app for in-store price comparisons. It allows shoppers to scan physical items to show up-to-date details such as the product name, price, consumer feedback from, and other useful information — all by scanning the labels on store shelves with their smartphone.

Walmart’s vision is to go beyond gimmicks and delve further into a futuristic augmented and virtual reality shopping environment that has the potential to permanently change the Walmart shopping experience.

Walmart seems to be trying to balance the benefits of online shopping with traditional, brick-and-mortar storefronts by combining various innovations. AR / VR is bringing about a digital transformation not just for Walmart, but many leaders like; Amazon, Costco, etc. are leveraging various facets of their businesses. The Problems that the traditional market faces , particularly in post-covid 19 world, brings out the scope of AR/VR in the retail industry.

We @InfiVR, have already helped a lot of brands to create a virtual experience for their customers. We are coming up with new and efficient ways of bringing this innovation and introducing a better, more smoother retail experience for all the stakeholders.