Walmart is expanding its support for AI-powered virtual try-on technology that allows online shoppers to better visualize clothing on models that look like themselves in both looks and body type. Previously, Walmart.com customers could choose from dozens of different models to find the one that looked best like them, in order to see which clothes fit their bodies and their skin in a range of costumes. How will it look with key tones? Now, the retailer is launching new technology called “Be Your Own Model,” which lets shoppers use their own photos to see how clothes look, instead of choosing one of existing fashion models.
The virtual try-on technology is related to Walmart’s 2021 acquisition of startup Zeekit. The computer vision and neural network-powered feature is able to analyze clothing catalog images to produce a dressed image. The use of neural networks helps determine the various forms of a product, including size, color, and other factors – for example fabric draping or sleeve length.
Walmart says the result is more realistic imagery than some other experiences where one photo is simply placed on top of another image. It feels different from other tech, such as AR-enabled shopping, said Cheryl Ainoa, SVP of new businesses and emerging tech, Walmart Global Tech.
“Where we didn’t feel like customers were satisfied is that a lot of AR experiences are basically the equivalent of taking a flat image and laying it on top of a flat image,” she says. “It doesn’t let you really get a feel for what this article of clothing is going to look like on me.”
Initially, Walmart offered its virtual try-on options in models ranging in height between 5’2″ and 6’0″ and in “thousands” of items in sizes XS to XXXL. To date, this earlier iteration is now available on more than 270,000 items across Champion, Levi’s & Haines, and Walmart’s portfolio of brands, including Sofia Active by Sofia Vergara, Love & Sports, Eloqui Elements, Time & True, Athletic Works, Terra and Sky, No Boundaries, Avia and The Pioneer Woman. A small number of items on the Walmart Marketplace also support this feature. This too has grown from 50 models to over 100 now.
With the upcoming expansion, customers no longer need to choose from just the available models.
Instead, desktop shoppers on Walmart.com and users of Walmart’s mobile app will be able to use their photos to create a more personalized shopping experience. The option is rolling out first to iOS users of the Walmart app, then to the web, with Android launching in the coming weeks.
To get started, customers need to first snap their photo with the Walmart iOS app to import their own image into the system. From there, they can try on virtually any supported clothing item and see what it really looks like. If signed-in, the photo will remain linked to the customer’s account for future use but can be deleted at any time.
The company believes such technology will go a long way toward increasing conversions and reducing returns – issues that still plague online apparel shopping today.
According to Dennis Incandela, Walmart’s EVP Apparel Division and Private Brands, the initial “Choose My Model” feature has already been successful on that front, in fact.
“We are very excited about the information that has come from [the “Choose My Model” feature]That’s why of course we expanded from 50 models to 120, and continued to invest in that,” she says. “We’ve seen exactly what we expected to see in terms of better conversions.”
Walmart declined to share specific metrics on conversion growth, however, or the impact on returns, because the technology is still new.
The retailer acknowledges that not everyone will want to use themselves as a fashion model, which is why it will continue to support the “Choose My Model” feature with the new addition. Still, the company’s long-term goal is to inspire more customers to use their image to help them shop—whether online or in-store, as a way to skip the dressing room.
The retailer also doubts that it will continue to help drive conversions, as the earlier facility has done.
“It will be the first time [customers] You can see yourself. And they’re about to see themselves in the product detail page; They will see themselves in the product landing page. To be honest, that’s why I was initially very excited to acquire the ZeeKit product – because that simplification of purchases didn’t really exist in the past…
Further down the road, Walmart wants to expand the technology to men’s and children’s apparel and even accessories, as well as introduce more brand integrations.
“Be Your Own Model” was soft-launched on the Walmart iOS app earlier today, but is available starting today.