Walmart Introduces Virtual Proofing Technology That Uses Customer Photos To Style Clothes • TechCrunch

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

The virtual proofing technology comes from Walmart’s acquisition of the Zeekit startup in 2021. The computer vision and neural network function can analyze images from the clothing catalog to create a dressed image. The use of neural networks helps 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.

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

“The point where we didn’t feel satisfied with customers is that a lot of the AR experiences are basically the equivalent of shooting and placing a flat image on top of a flat image,” he says. “This doesn’t allow you to really feel what this piece of clothing will look like on me.”

Walmart initially showcased its virtual trial 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 previous iteration is now available on over 270,000 items from both national brands such as Champion, Levi’s and Hanes, and Walmart’s portfolio of brands including Sofia Vergara’s Sofia Active, Love & Sports, ELOQUII Elements, Time & Tru, Athletic Works, Terra & Sky, No Boundaries, Avia and The Pioneer Woman. Fewer items on the Walmart marketplace also support the feature. It has also been expanded from 50 models to over 100.

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

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

Image credits: Walmart

To get started, customers will first need to take their photo with the Walmart iOS app to import their image into the system. From there, they can then try on virtually any supported piece of clothing 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, problems that still plague online clothing shopping today.

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

Image credits: Walmart

“We are very excited about the insights that came with it [the ‘Choose My Model’ feature], which is why we obviously expanded from the 50 to the 120 models and continue to invest in this, ”he says. “We have seen well what we hoped to see in terms of improved conversion.”

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

The retailer acknowledges that not everyone will want to use themselves as a fashion model, which is why they will continue to support the “Choose my model” feature along with the new addition. However, the company’s long-term goal is to get more customers to use their image to help them shop, both online and in-store, as a way to skip the locker room.

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

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

Further on, Walmart wants to expand the technology to men’s and children’s apparel and even accessories, as well as introducing more brand integrations.

“Be Your Own Model” was launched earlier today on the Walmart app for iOS, but was launched more broadly starting today.

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