Walmart Implements Virtual Reality Tech Across Enterprise; What Does It Mean For Produce?
- by Eva Roethler
BENTONVILLE, AR - For a long time, we have been committed to understanding the evolving platforms of virtual and augmented reality, and how it can be an asset for growers and buyers across the industry.
So naturally it caught our eye when TechCrunch reported that Walmart is rolling out training simulations for its employees across the enterprise, in an innovative approach to immersive education.
Beginning with a pilot at 30 training centers, the company reported that the results from the training were "promising" and has plans to bring the innovative approach to all of its 200 training facilities by 2017. In addition to hands-on situational crash courses, for holidays like Black Friday, the Wall Street Journal reports that the retailer is finding other applications for training. For example, trainees can scan produce sections to spot issues such as missing prices on products, or simulate deli counter customer encounters.
At AndNowUKnow, as a vertically integrated media company, we’ve been having the conversation about virtual reality since Facebook’s acquisition of the Oculus Rift started to make the application viable at the business level.
As Walmart—and industries from neuromedicine to sports to construction—are demonstrating, this once-intangible technology now has practical applications as an educational business tool, bringing the desired immersion experience right to the user. It is a presentation solution which bridges the gap and shows users an incredible 360 degree panoramic view of anything they need information about: whether it’s new acreage, a packing line, a produce aisle, or a grape varietal in the vineyard.
In our people-oriented industry, virtual reality offers the opportunity to bring growers and buyers together, virtually. And much to our delight, many in our industry are already exploring these new frontiers to great success.
For example, last year at PMA Fresh Summit, Triple H Produce brought the field experience directly to buyers–easily demonstrating how virtual reality technology can launch a viewer from their chair into a deeper and more visual understanding of the company's operations and categories.
“It’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity to bring fields and facilities closer to our customers and potential buyers,” Alicia Garza, Marketing Manager at Triple H Produce shared with us. “We realized that many of the people we talk to, or that already buy produce from us, have never seen a real tomato or jalapeño plant before. With virtual reality we can change that, and give them firsthand experience in the field in under three minutes, without them ever leaving the room.”
In 2015, Frontera started experimenting with ways to bring business directly to its customers by using this immersive three-dimensional experience.
“Bringing our experiences to the buyer is what has made us so supportive of adopting this technology,” said Tonya Hill, formerly Frontera’s Director of Sales, regarding the company’s innovative endeavors. “Face-to-face time with our customers is a very integral part of our business philosophy. We will wholeheartedly get behind any opportunity that allows us to bring the entire Frontera experience–from field to store shelf–to our customers. It allows us to bring our gorgeous South Texas fields anywhere and gives buyers the opportunities to learn what we do to deliver the best product.”
It would seem that virtual and augmented reality platforms are more than a gimmicky flash-in-the-pan, and with large-scale endorsements like this from Walmart and other industires, it seems that ubiquity is right around the corner.