Boots’ owner Walgreens is training staff in virtual reality

Walgreens Boots Alliance is using Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 to train its staff in virtual reality to handle thousands of new products and learn new store layouts before they’re finished.

The US retail giant, which owns Boots here in the UK, is launching the VR training pilot amid a wider partnership with Microsoft.

Using its HoloLens device staff will enter a virtual three-dimensional model of reconfigured stores and various scenarios so they can learn how to restock items, determine if over 2500 new food items are suitable for sale, help customers redeem grocery coupons and deal with unfamiliar customer service situations.

READ MORE: Walmart is using VR to determine if staff are ready for a promotion

Its training programme has been developed by Microsoft’s partner Altoura and will initially be rolled out in a single store in Knoxville, Tenesse, but could soon be expanded to a further 51 stores across the US.

“We feel that this very immersive, interactive technology helps team members grasp new ways of learning beyond what I’ll call the paper exercise,” Walgreens’ vice president of physical design formats Steven Lamontagne said.

“By using a 3D model for the store, a team member gets to see what the future is going to be like after their store’s remodeled, and they’re immediately within that new physical environment”.

Its newly revamped stores will also use Bluetooth beacons on shopping cards to track how customers move through the stores, then analyse the data to see whether the new formats are meeting customer needs.

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