As someone who has spent several years working in retail environments, I know how boring and tedious training can be. Nobody wants to sit through videos, with awkward actors, who resolve customer service situations in ways that would never work in real life. Walmart might have found a way to make training less terrible for employees.
Walmart is providing Oculus Go virtual reality headsets to all of its stores in the United States. The headsets are part of a VR-based employee training program. Employees will use the headsets to access 45 activity-based modules created by STRIVR.
Walmart will send four headsets to every Walmart supercenter and two to every Neighborhood Market and discount store. More than 17,000 Oculus Go headsets will be in stores by the end of 2018.
The information on Walmart’s website states that every associate – including those on the floor who interact with customers the most – will have access to the same training that their managers and department managers do at the Academies.
One good thing about using a VR-based training is that employees can make mistakes in a virtual environment. I think that would be much less intimidating than having to make mistakes on the sales floor, with irate customers, while all of your coworkers watch you struggle.
Training videos make employees passively absorb information in a way that doesn’t match what happens on the sales floor. The Oculus Go VR activities are interactive, and can be done over and over again. That’s a much more interesting way to learn new skills and to perfect them.
Walmart announced that they are set to launch a new pilot called Alphabot. It uses first-of-its-kind automation to help Walmart associates to fill online grocery orders faster than ever before. In other words, Walmart will use specially made robots to gather up groceries for orders that were placed online.
The Alphabot system was developed by Alert Innovation especially for Walmart. The Alphabot Automated Storage and Retrieval System (ASRS) and Automated Each-Picking System (AEPS), in addition to a highly innovative picking workstation, creates the world’s “goods-to-picker” each-picking technology.
Individual Alphabots move through a specially designed warehouse with a bin. They go around and collect the items that are on a Walmart customer’s online shopping list. The Alphabots are under the control of a single Master Control System (MCS).
Each Alphabot will automatically bring items from storage to Walmart associates who will consolidate the items in the order. Human workers will handpick the fresh produce and meats that are part of an individual grocery order.
The Alphabot system is being installed at the Walmart Supercenter in Salem, New Hampshire, as part of that store’s grand opening. Walmart plans to have Alphabot online and running by the end of the year.
Apple was pretty secretive on their Black friday sale. Target seemed to be the best option for an iPad this week and people stood in line for their black friday deal as early as 8 PM Thursday night. So did you get a new iPad Air or iPad mini?
After scouring the ads, I chose to stand in line at Target last night. They offered a $100 gift card with purchase of an iPad Air or $75 for an iPad mini. I got there at 7:50 expecting about 25-30% of the crowd was heading toward the iPad line.
Walmart offered $100 gift cards for iPad mini. Best Buy also had a gift card deal. Apple store only had a $75 card, didn’t advertise their deals and also didn’t give any deal for a Retina mini. So hopefully the 20% waiting in front of me for iPads won’t deplete the inventory too bad.
Once the doors opened, the line moved quicker than a one horse open sleigh. Of course, that was the first line. The second line was the true wait – people anxious for their iPads for the holidays.
What was interesting was the people I talked to in line already had iPads. This was either an upgrade or they wanted to get a second tablet for their families. One person was waiting for a Nexus 10 tablet, but decided to get the iPad as well.
Target was also ready for this event as most people got the iPad they wanted. They did run out of 16 GB iPad Air at about 9:30 PM. I was in line for a 32 GB model anyway and I saw a lot of iPad minis getting sold, too. You could even get 2nd and 4th generation iPads that night.
I tweeted VegasBill during the event, who also was waiting in a Target store line in Vegas. I shouted out “This is what it will look like in a couple hours”.
I don’t normally do Black Friday. Those years I did, I was always disappointed because it was 4 in the morning and we would have to wait 6-8 weeks for rebates of specials.
This year was a bit different. I wasn’t too upset on the 2+ hour wait and I got the iPad Air I was looking for. Best part – I got a gift card which I could use at that moment if I wanted.
I did suggest that next year Target should talk with Starbucks and get a mobile barista to stand at the iPad line selling coffee…
We’ve all seen the pattern and can recognize it. Successful organization has successful charismatic leader. Something happens to remove successful charismatic leader from organization. Then, organization looses coherence and suffers, or worse. This seems to be a very common pattern that occurs with most leaders and most organizations.
Even Mom and Pop restaurants suffer this fate. Restaurant does great as long as Mom and Pop are directly involved. Once Mom and Pop are removed (or remove themselves) from the picture, the business is never the same and may well fail.
When Sam Walton died back in 1992, I was certain that Walmart as an organization would probably either suffer some sort of meltdown or even outright failure. I turned out to be wrong. The thing that Sam Walton was highly effective at was that he was able to inspire as many of his employees as possible to make his dream of Walmart their own dream and put something of themselves into making that dream happen. With this structure, the organization did not depend on Sam Walton as its motivating identity force. Sam Walton inspired his employees to make their own success of Walmart.
Steve Jobs did exactly the opposite. Steve Jobs set himself up as THE motivating entity at Apple, with everything revolving around him. He not only was the primary motivating force for his employees, but incredibly this sense of identity also extended to customers. Steve was able to take Apple to heretofore unknown heights.
Unfortunately, it all depended on his continued existence.
Oh Apple, Splendid Acephalous
Corpulence Unmatched, Clinging To Dysfunction
Best Of Everything
Alas, No One Now To Point The Way
This past week Wal-Mart announced exclusive disk to digital service using Vudu. The way it works is the consumer would bring down his or her DVDs or Blu-ray discs to their local Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart would then create a digital copy of that disc on Vudu. Vudu is a content delivery network which is available through over 300 devices including PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. This is the first attempt to introduce the UltraViolet system to the public on a large-scale. The Ultraviolet system works like a locker in the cloud . It was created in 2008 by most major Hollywood studios and their partners . Consumers store the digital rights to the DVDs they own in this locker. They then can watch the movie on any device that carries Vudu. The UltraViolet system can handle a multiple number of DRM technologies, which Hollywood continues to support. However so far consumers have not looked favorably upon the UltraViolet system so this is the first really big test to see if this system can work or not.
I see several problems with this system the first is that you physically have to bring your DVDs or Blu-ray disc down to local Wal-Mart and stand in line, how many people are going to do this. The second is it does not work with all movies in fact any movie distributed by Disney cannot be added. Disney is not a part of the UltraViolet consortium. Third you can’t watch the movie on a iPad or iPhone,(except in the Safari browser) remember Steve Jobs was on the Disney board and iTunes is a competitor to Vudu. Fourth you are putting it in a locker that someone else controls, Which means at any time they can change the combination or take away the key or close the whole system down and you have no say in it. Also you don’t get any of the extras and no subtitles on English films. Fifth most movies especially older ones are already available through other means such as Netflix or Amazon or iTunes often at a cheaper rate. Sixth if you want to watch the movie on your computer it will be in standard definition, not full HD. Finally most sophisticated users already have ways to rip their DVD’s without having to carry them down to the local Wal-Mart and stand in line. I will be surprise if this is successful, sophisticated tech users will not use it and normal will not understand or trust it. I wonder if Wal-Mart will offer this automatically when you purchase a new DVD or BLu Ray, that may help add to its popularity. Will you use this system, will your parents, or is dead before it gets off the ground?
Honestly, this comes as quite a surprise. I would have never thought Wal-Mart and iBuyPower would team up to bring a custom gaming PC builder to Walmart.com but, that’s exactly what they have done and Walmart says there are over 10,000 combinations available.
Custom rigs start out at $599 and we can choose between 5 different cases. We’ll also be able to include up to 8GBs of RAM and a 2TB hard drive so there’s plenty of room for all those games. We won’t have to worry to much about graphics as there are 9 different cards from AMD and NVIDIA to choose from with the 1.5GB GeForce GTX480 at the top of the list. Intel and AMD processors, including the i5 and i7, will also be available depending on your customizing needs. They have even provided 3 different optical drive options including a Blu-ray writer!
Usually when I think of places to throw a custom gaming rig together Walmart is not at the top of the list. However, if you’re looking for something affordable this could be the way to go. If you want to start building right away head over to the Walmart.com Builder right now. It looks like the $599 base model is on sale for $579 so get over there and start customizing — that fresh copy of Portal 2 wants to play!