Walmart introduces virtual try-on technology that uses customers’ own photos to model clothes

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Walmart is expanding its support for AI-powered virtual try-on technology that allows online shoppers to better view clothes on models that resemble them both in appearance and body type. Previously, Walmart.com customers could choose from dozens of different designs to find the one that looked best on them to see how the clothes would look on their own body and with their own skin tone, across a range of clothing items. Today, the retailer is launching a new technology called “Be Your Own Model”, which allows shoppers to use their own photos to see what the clothes look like, instead of choosing one of the existing fashion models.

The virtual try-on technology grew out of Walmart’s 2021 acquisition of startup Zeekit. The computer vision and neural network function is able to analyze clothing catalog images to create a dressed image. The use of neural networks helps to determine the different variations of a product, including size, color and other factors, such as the drape of the fabric or the length of the sleeves, for example.

The result is more realistic imagery than some other experiences where a photo is simply layered over another image, Walmart says. That makes it different from other technologies, like AR-enabled shopping, notes Cheryl Ainoa, Walmart SVP of New Businesses and Emerging Tech.

“Where we didn’t feel customers were happy was that many augmented reality experiences were essentially taking a flat image and laying it on top of a flat image,” she says. “It does not allow you to find out what this garment will look like on me.”

Initially, Walmart showcased its virtual try-on options on models ranging in height from 5’2″ to 6’0″ and in sizes XS to XXXL on “thousands” of items. To date, this earlier version is now available on over 270,000 items from national brands such as Champion, Levi’s and Hanes, and from Walmart’s portfolio of brands including Sofia Active by Sofia Vergara, Love & Sports, ELOQUII Elements, Time & Tru, Athletic Works, Terra & Sky, No Boundaries, Avia and The Pioneer Woman. A smaller number of items in the Walmart Marketplace also support the feature. It also went from 50 models to over 100.

With the upcoming expansion, customers no longer have to choose only from the available models.

Instead, desktop shoppers on Walmart.com and users of Walmart’s mobile app will be able to use their own photos to create a more personalized shopping experience. This option is first rolling out to iOS users in the Walmart app and on the web, with Android launching in the coming weeks.

Picture credits: walmart

To get started, customers will first need to take their photo with the Walmart iOS app in order to import their own image into the system. From there, they can then try on virtually any supported garment and see what it really looks like. If logged in, the photo will remain associated with the customer’s account for future use, but can be deleted at any time.

The company believes this type of technology will go a long way in increasing conversions and minimizing returns – issues that still plague online clothing purchases today.

According to Denise Incandela, Walmart EVP Apparel Division and Private Brands, the initial “Choose My Model” feature has already been successful on that front, in fact.

Picture credits: walmart

“We are very excited about the information provided by [the ‘Choose My Model’ feature], which is why, of course, we have expanded our products beyond 50 models, up to 120, and continue to invest in that,” she says. “We did see what we were hoping to see in terms of conversion improvement.”

However, Walmart declined to share specific metrics on conversion increases or the impact on returns because the technology is still new.

The retailer recognizes that not everyone will want to use themselves as a model, so it will continue to support the “Choose My Model” feature alongside the new addition. Still, the company’s long-term goal is to get more customers to use their own image to help them shop, whether online or even in-store, to avoid the locker room.

The retailer also suspects it will continue to help drive conversions, as the previous feature did.

“It will be the first time [customers] can see each other. And they will show up in the product detail page; they will show up in the product landing page. Frankly, that’s why I was so excited to get the Zeekit product, to begin with — because shopping gamification didn’t really exist in the past… we think that’s the future of shopping,” says Incandela.

Further down the road, Walmart wants to extend the technology to apparel and even accessories for men and kids, as well as introduce more brand integrations.

“Be Your Own Model” had been soft-launched before today on the Walmart iOS app, but is rolling out more widely starting today.

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