Walmart shoppers can now virtually try on clothes without leaving the house.
A new feature, rolled out Thursday in Walmart’s iOS app, uses photos customers upload to show how clothes will look on their bodies. The technology, called Be Your Own Model, uses machine learning technology and does more than just superimpose images of garments on potential buyers. “We don’t want it to look like a paper doll,” said Denise Incandela, EVP of clothing and private label for Walmart US. “It’s much more advanced than that.”
It uses technology first developed for use in topographical maps of the Earth, which allows customers to see how clothes will actually fit the body, complete with realistic shadows, colors and even simulated fabric drape.
“If you look at the technology used to derive topographic maps and then look at features you would put on it, it’s very much like creating a client’s map,” said Cheryl Ainoa, senior vice president. New York from Walmart. businesses and emerging technology. “We use some pretty advanced machine learning models to create the topographic map of your image.”
Shoppers can also compare different versions of the same item, experiment with sizes and colors without ordering and returning items or physically going to a Walmart fitting room.
It’s Walmart’s latest push to use augmented reality to let shoppers test products from the comfort of their own homes. The retailer has previously rolled out tools to visualize what furniture looks like in a space, virtually try out a pair of glasses for sale in its Sam’s Club unit, and see how clothes look like a model that looks like them. That “Choose my model” feature has since expanded from 50 models to 120 after customers asked for more options. And letting shoppers virtually model clothes themselves is a logical next step, says Incandela.
“All we were asked for again and again was more models,” she says.
Both “model” features follow last year’s acquisition of Zeekit, a company focused on virtual try-on technology, extensive development efforts and user testing designed to make the home photography process as seamless as possible.
“The most complicated thing about being your own model is that people make it really easy to get the right shot,” Ainoa says, adding that the company believes it has managed to “make it harder to get it wrong.” than it is to do it.” Turn right.”
Walmart’s engineers have also worked to make the process energy-efficient, so shoppers don’t have to worry about their phone’s batteries running out of power while they shop, she says.
“We kind of want people to be able to try things out for hours on end, so we had to make it so it’s really very light on battery usage,” she says.
The new feature already includes 270,000 women’s clothing, according to Walmart, including some of its own brands such as Free Assembly, Scoop, Sofia Jeans and Sofia Active (both from Sofia Vergara), as well as companies such as Champion, Levi’s and Hanes. . Also included are items on Walmart Marketplace, which expects the lineup to continue to grow. Still, Incandela says she doesn’t expect the feature to deter customers from coming to Walmart’s brick-and-mortar stores, as she’s found shoppers generally want a mix of in-store shopping and online convenience.
The company expects to expand the feature to allow iOS users to snap a photo to be used on both the Walmart website and the app, and says it will roll out to Android users in the coming weeks. Men’s clothing and children’s clothing and accessories will likely be available to try one day, and the technology will likely continue to improve as more shoppers use it, Incandela says.
“What we want to do is get it out there, learn from the customer, and keep developing it,” she says.