Walmart is expanding its virtual try-on capabilities with a new online fitting experience called “Be Your Own Model.”
Building on the initial “Choose My Model” launch in March, Be Your Own Model gives customers a way to use their own photo to better visualize how an item of clothing will look on them.
Earlier this year, the retail giant unveiled the Choose My Model feature, which enables customers to view dozens of models between 5’2” and 6’0” tall that can display clothing from sizes XS through XXXL. From there, the shopper can determine the model that best represents their height, body shape and skin tone to understand how any given garment will look on them.
But now, when consumers view an item they are interested in, they can click the “Try it on” button and select to either see the garment on a model or on themselves.
In a blog post, Denise Incandela, executive vice president, apparel and private brands, Walmart U.S., said Choose My Model was met with “terrific customer response,” leading to the development and launch of Be Your Own Model.
Consumers accessing Be Your Own Model prop up their mobile device at waist height, move back so their body is visible and stand still before the photo is taken. After taking the photo, the app asks the shopper to enter their height before processing the final image.
Once an image is saved, customers will be able to view themselves as the model each time they use the virtual try-on experience.
“Our technology accomplishes this key differentiator with algorithms and intricate machine learning models—techniques originally utilized in developing highly accurate topographic maps —to show how an item of clothing will look on someone,” Incandela said. “Other experiences typically lay a photo of an item on top of another image, making it appear computer-generated. With Be Your Own Model, a customer sees an ultra-realistic simulation with shadows, fabric draping and where clothing falls on their figure in seconds.”
The technology captures all of an item’s SKU variations to show how they appear uniquely on each individual. For example, a single shirt can be displayed in six different colors, seven different sizes and two sleeve lengths.
The feature is now available on more than 270,000 items across Walmart’s portfolio of exclusive and private brands, including Free Assembly, Scoop, Sofia Jeans and Sofia Active by Sofia Vergara, Love & Sports, Eloquii Elements, Time & Tru, Athletic Works, Terra & Sky, No Boundaries, Avia and The Pioneer Woman.
Some Champion, Levi’s and Hanes products, and even some items on the Walmart Marketplace, are also part of the new experience. Walmart expects to onboard additional brands in the future.
Walmart’s fit technology expansion is powered by Zeekit, the virtual try-on platform the retailer acquired in 2021. Zeekit uses real-time image processing to map a person’s image into thousands of segments. Clothing is processed in a similar manner and the equivalent points of the two are mapped into one final simulation.
After the acquisition, Incandela said Zeekit’s technology could be used to create other fashion experiences, such as building “the world’s largest virtual closet” or mixing and matching clothing, suggesting that Walmart will continue to build out more features within the technology.
Apparel retailers are increasingly experimenting with fit technology as consumers flock online to purchase fashion, especially as returns become a bigger issue every year. A National Retail Federation (NRF) survey indicated that more than $761 billion in merchandise sold across 2021 would be returned to retailers—marking 16.6 percent of total U.S. sales. Apparel saw a 12.2 percent return rate.
According to the survey of 57 retailers, for every $1 billion in sales in 2021, the average retailer incurred $166 million in merchandise returns.
Be Your Own Model is currently rolling out to iOS users of the Walmart app. Incandela said iOS users will also be able to take their image in the Walmart app to use the feature on desktop or web shortly, but did not provide a specific timetable for the desktop debut. The feature will be available on Android devices in the coming weeks, she said.