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VR ‘how to’ classes make retail debut

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy
Home improvement chain Lowe’s is embarking on the next chapter of its virtual reality journey.
 
On March 7, the home improvement chain’s store in Framingham, Mass., debuted its “Holoroom How To,” Lowe’s first-ever virtual reality DIY skills-training clinic. As consumers enter the interactive virtual reality (VR)-based environment, they wear an HTC Vive headset to receive “hands-on” tutorials on basic DIY skills, including supplies and steps, needed to complete a project.
 
The first module teaches how to tile a shower.
 
“This allows us to teach our customers in a way that we could have never previously imagined, and give them the confidence they need to undertake a daunting renovation,” according to Lowe’s Innovation Labs. 
 
The chain’s prior virtual reality programs helped customers visualize their kitchen and bath renovations, “but we have found a unique opportunity to use the VR platform for skills training,” according to the chain. 
 
“Our studies show that Holoroom How To actually lifts unskilled DIYers to a memory performance level comparable to that of experienced DIYers,” Lowe’s said. “This allows us to teach our customers in a way that we could have never previously imagined, and give them the confidence they need to undertake a daunting renovation.”
 
Two stores in Canada will be next to feature the VR-based classes.
 
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Walmart issues $157M in bonuses to employees

BY Brian Berk

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart issued $157 million in bonuses to 850,000 employees based upon store performance. The bonuses, along with annual pay raises, were included in employees’ March 9 paycheck.

Over the past two years, Walmart has invested billions of dollars in training, education and higher wages. These programs offer associates skills, knowledge and tools to help them grow with the company and provide great customer service during a time of rapid change in shopping habits. During 2016, Walmart launched new training programs for entry-level associates, frontline supervisors, department managers and assistant managers, intended to create clearer career paths and preparing them to succeed in a new, technology-enabled age of retail.

Walmart operates 11,695 stores under 59 banners in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries. With fiscal year 2017 revenue of $485.9 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide.

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Walmart reportedly testing ‘endless aisle’ kiosks

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy
Walmart just made another move in its battle against online rival, Amazon.
 
The retail giant is testing a touch-screen monitor in its toy aisle at select stores in Texas. The solution connects shoppers to available inventory at store-level, and if it’s not on-hand, the device enables them to order it online, according to The Street
 
Defined in the report as an "endless aisle-type concept,” the kiosk enables shoppers to choose from a list of toys it currently sells. If customers are unsure what to purchase, the device can suggest best-sellers by prompting users to answer a selection of questions, such as is it a gift, the gender of the child, and the child’s age. 
 
If their choice is unavailable, shoppers can order it from the Walmart website and have it delivered to their home, Walmart CFO Brett Briggs said during a presentation at the Raymond James Investor Conference on Wednesday, March 8.
 
The endless aisle kiosk coincides with Walmart’s mission to become a more digital enterprise, as well as “making everyday easier for busy families,” Briggs explained, adding that the company has $15 billion in e-commerce sales, and more than 35,000 SKUs in its online assortment in the United States.
 
The solution is also the company’s latest competitive move against Amazon. Recently, the chain took on its rival by ending its ShippingPass program, a fee-based, two-day delivery service, in favor of a free two-day shipping program. Amazon’s Prime program charges $99 annually for unlimited two-day shipping.

 

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