Walmart is rolling out its latest virtual trial, which lets shoppers upload an image of themselves and see what the items would look like.
As some shoppers cut spending on clothes, Walmart is rolling out a new tool it hopes will entice them to click the “buy” button.
Starting this week, customers can use a virtual try-on tool to see how a shirt or other garment would look on their own body. This is the latest feature the company has added to its website due to the acquisition of Zeekit, a virtual dressing room startup.
The retailer launched its first iteration of the tool in March, which allowed shoppers to choose a model that looked like them in terms of body type, skin tone and hair color. It then went from 50 to 120 models. Other retailers have also experimented with virtual fitting, including Amazon, which has a tool that uses augmented reality to let shoppers see what a shoe would look like on their feet.
Walmart’s newest feature, “Be Your Own Model,” uses machine learning algorithms and technology that were originally used to develop more accurate topographic maps. Shoppers can use it to virtually try on more than 270,000 items across Walmart’s private brands, select items from national brands, such as Champion, Levi’s and Hanes, and select items sold on its third-party marketplace.
Customers can choose either option, using their own image or a similar template. With the custom tool, the website uses an analysis of a person’s body to give a more realistic idea of how a fabric drapes, a color, or where a sleeve or hem hits – without entering a store.
Walmart is unveiling the new tool at a time when selling new outfits has become more difficult. As inflation drives up the prices of food, rent and more, consumers have started deciding where to cut back on spending. The big-box retailer joined a growing list of companies, including Target and Best Buy, that have cut their full-year earnings outlook as people buy less discretionary merchandise. Walmart now expects adjusted earnings per share to decline between 9% and 11% for the full year.
For the discounter, however, budget awareness could come with a potential silver lining. The company raised its sales forecast in July because it benefited from an increase in shoppers looking for groceries and essentials at low prices, even as they bought fewer high-margin items. It also attracts more customers with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more, the company said on its earnings call in August.
Denise Incandela, executive vice president of apparel and private labels at Walmart US, said she also wants to encourage more of those customers to fill their closets at Walmart.
Walmart’s virtual dressing room tool uses machine learning algorithms and techniques originally used to create topographic maps to show what clothes would look like on a shopper.
Walmart, virtual try-on, virtual fitting room
One way to do this is through virtual fittings, which makes shopping for clothes more fun and easier, while taking out some of the guesswork, she said.
It’s also why Walmart has expanded beyond basics like socks and t-shirts to offer more edgy products with higher price points. He has a growing collection of private labels, including Sofia Jeans, developed with actress Sofia Vergara; Free Assembly, a men’s and women’s clothing brand designed by Bonobos’ former creative director; and Love & Sports, an activewear brand created with fashion designer Michelle Smith and SoulCycle instructor Stacey Griffith. Its website also features more recognized national brands, such as fitness shoe and apparel maker Reebok and children’s clothing brand Justice.
Walmart launched these elevated brands extensively on its website and then added some of these merchandise to select stores. Its website drives higher average selling prices for clothes than stores, Incandela said, so the retailer wants to make sure shoppers have fewer reasons to abandon items in their virtual shopping carts — like having struggling to choose a color or debating how a dress might fit.
So far, she said, Walmart has seen a lift since the first release of its virtual dressing room tool, “Choose My Model.” She declined to say the purchase conversion rate, but said it was higher for online shoppers who use the tool than for those who don’t.
“We sort of double down based on consumer insights,” she said.
Now, she says, it’s about thinking about the next step, such as encouraging shoppers in stores to experience the tech as an alternative to fitting rooms or making the feature available for men’s clothing or eyewear. and children.