Walmart is expanding its support for AI-powered virtual try-on technology that allows online shoppers to better visualize clothing on models that are similar in appearance and body type. Previously, Walmart.com customers could choose from dozens of different models to find the one that best suited them to see how clothes would likely look on their own bodies and skin tone, across a range of clothing items. Now the retailer is launching a new technology called ‘Be Your Own Model’, which allows shoppers to use their own photos to see what clothes look like, instead of choosing one of the existing fashion models.
The virtual try-on technology comes from Walmart’s 2021 acquisition of startup Zeekit. The computer vision and neural network-powered function is able to analyze catalog images of garments to create a clothed image. The use of neural networks helps determine the different variations of a product, including size, color and other factors such as fabric drapes or sleeve length for example.
The result is a more realistic image than some other experiences where a photo is simply superimposed over another image, Walmart says. This makes it feel different from other tech like shopping with AR, notes Cheryl Ainoa, Walmart SVP of New Businesses and Emerging Tech.
“Where we didn’t feel like customers were happy is that a lot of the AR experiences are basically the equivalent of taking and overlaying a flat image on a flat image,” she says. “As a result, you can’t really experience what this piece of clothing will look like on me.”
Initially, Walmart presented its virtual try-on options for models ranging in height between 5’2″ and 6’0″ and in sizes XS through XXXL across “thousands” of items. As of today, this earlier version is now available on more than 270,000 items from national brands such as Champion, Levi’s and Hanes, and 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 on the Walmart Marketplace also support the feature. It has also expanded from 50 models to now 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 can use their own photos to create a more personalized shopping experience. This option is rolling out first to iOS users of the Walmart app and to the web, with Android launching in the coming weeks.
To get started, customers must first take their photo with the Walmart iOS app to import their own image into the system. From there, they can virtually try on all supported garments and see what it really looks like. Once you have signed in, the photo will remain associated with the customer’s account for future use, but can be deleted at any time.
The company believes that this type of technology will go a long way in increasing conversions and minimizing returns – issues that still plague online clothing stores today.
According to Denise Incandela, Walmart EVP Apparel Division and Private Brands, the first “Choose My Model” feature has already been successful in that area.
“We are very excited about the insights that came from [the ‘Choose My Model’ feature], which is why, of course, we expanded from the 50 models to the 120, and we continue to invest in that,” she says. “We’ve clearly seen what we hoped to see in terms of improved conversion.”
However, Walmart declined to share specific stats on conversion increases or the impact on returns, as the technology is still new.
The retailer recognizes 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 in addition to 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 that’s online or even in-store, as a way to skip the locker room.
The retailer also suspects it will continue to help drive conversions, as the previous feature has done.
“This will be the first time [customers] can see themselves. And they’re going to see themselves on the product detail page; they see themselves on the product landing page. Frankly, that’s why I was so excited to purchase the Zeekit product, to begin with – because gamification of shopping didn’t really exist in the past… we think this is the future of shopping,” says Incandela.
Moving on, Walmart wants to expand the technology to menswear and kidswear and even accessories, and introduce more brand integrations.
“Be Your Own Model” was soft-launched earlier today on the Walmart iOS app, but is rolling out more widely as of today.