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

Walmart is expanding support for AI-powered virtual try-on technology that allows online shoppers to better visualize clothing on models similar to themselves in both appearance and body type. Before, customers could choose from dozens of different models to find the one that best resembled them to see how clothes would likely look on their own body, and with their own skin tone, across a range of clothing items. Now the retailer is launching new technology called “Be Your Own Model”, which allows customers to use their own photos to see how the clothes look on them, 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 driven function is able to analyze catalog images of garments 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 fabric drape or sleeve length, for example.

The result is more realistic images than some other experiences where an image is simply superimposed on another image, says Walmart. This makes it feel different from other technologies, like AR-enabled shopping, notes Cheryl Ainoa, Walmart SVP of New Businesses and Emerging Tech.

“Where we didn’t feel the customers were happy is that many of the AR experiences basically amount to taking and overlaying a flat image on top of a flat image,” she says. “It doesn’t let you experience how this garment is going to look on me.”

Initially, Walmart presented its virtual try-on options across models between 5’2″ and 6’0″ in height and in sizes XS to XXXL across “thousands” of items. As of today, this previous iteration is now available on more than 270,000 items across both 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 been expanded from 50 models to now over 100.

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

Instead, desktop shoppers on 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 being rolled out first to iOS users of the Walmart app and to the web, with Android launching in the coming weeks.

Image credit: Walmart

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

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

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

Image credit: Walmart

“We are very excited about the insights that came from [the ‘Choose My Model’ feature], that is why we of course expanded beyond the 50 models to 120, and continue to invest in it, she says. “We’ve seen exactly what we hoped to see in terms of improved conversion.”

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

The retailer recognizes that not everyone wants to use themselves as a fashion model, which is why it will continue to support the “Choose My Model” feature alongside the new addition. Still, the company’s long-term goal is to push more customers to use their own image to help them shop — whether it’s online or even in-store, as a way to skip the wardrobe.

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

“This will be the first time [customers] can see itself. And they’re going to see themselves on the product detail page; they will see themselves on the product landing page. Honestly, that’s why I was so excited to buy the Zeekit product, to begin with – because the gamification of shopping hasn’t existed in the past … we think this is the future of shopping,” says Incandela.

Further down the road, Walmart wants to extend the technology to men’s and children’s clothing and even accessories, 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 broadly starting today.

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