Walmart unveils virtual fitting room to push shoppers to buy more clothes

Walmart introduces its latest version of virtual try-on, which allows shoppers to upload a picture of themselves and see what the items would look like.


As some shoppers reduce their spending on clothes, Walmart is rolling out a new tool it hopes will persuade 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. It’s the latest feature the company has added to its website due to its acquisition of Zeekit, a virtual dressing room startup.

The retailer launched its first iteration of the tool in March, which allowed shoppers to select a model that resembled them in body type, skin tone and hair color. Later it was expanded from 50 to 120 models. Other retailers have also experimented with virtual try-on, including Amazon, which has a tool that uses augmented reality to let shoppers see what a shoe would look like on their feet.

The latest feature for Walmart, Be Your Own Model, uses algorithms and machine learning technology originally used to develop more accurate topographical maps. Shoppers can use it to virtually try on more than 270,000 items from Walmart’s own brands, select items from national brands such as Champion, Levi’s and Hanes, and some sold in the third-party marketplace.

Customers can choose between both options by using their own image or a similar model. With the personalized tool, the site uses a scan of a person’s body to give a more realistic sense of how a fabric drapes, a color looks, or where a sleeve or hem hits – without even setting foot in a store.

Walmart is introducing the new tool at a time when selling new outfits has become more difficult. As inflation drives up the prices of groceries, rent and more, consumers have started making decisions about where to save. The big-box retailer joined a growing list of companies, including Target and Best Buy, that cut their full-year earnings outlook as people buy fewer discretionary goods. Walmart now expects its full-year adjusted earnings per share to fall between 9% and 11%.

For the discounter, however, budget awareness could be a potential silver lining. The company raised its sales guidance in July, buoyed by shoppers looking for inexpensive groceries and essentials despite purchasing lower-margin items. It’s also attracting more customers with annual household incomes of $100,000 or more, the company said at its earnings call in August.

Denise Incandela, executive vice president of apparel and private label at Walmart US, said she wants to encourage more of those customers to stock their closets at Walmart, too.

Walmart’s virtual fitting room tool uses algorithms and machine learning techniques originally used to create topographical maps to show what clothing items would look like on a shopper.

Walmart, virtual fitting room, virtual fitting room

One way to do this is with virtual fittings, which makes clothing shopping more fun and easier while taking the guesswork out, she said.

Because of this, Walmart has moved beyond basics like socks and t-shirts to more fashionable, higher-priced goods. It has a growing collection of own brands, including Sofia Jeans, which was co-developed with actress Sofia vergara; Free Assembly, a men’s and women’s clothing brand designed by the former Chief Creative Officer at Bonobos; and Love & Sports, an activewear brand co-founded with fashion designer Michelle Smith and SoulCycle trainer Stacey Griffith. The site also features better-known national brands, such as fitness shoe and apparel maker Reebok and children’s clothing brand Justice.

Walmart largely featured these upscale brands on its website, and then added some of these goods to select stores. Its website drives higher average retail prices for clothing items than stores, Incandela said, so the retailer wants to make sure shoppers have fewer reasons to abandon items in their virtual carts — such as shopping carts. B. Difficulty choosing a color or discussions about how a dress might fit.

So far, she said, Walmart has seen a lift from the first version of its virtual fitting room tool, Choose My Model. She declined to reveal the conversion rate for purchases, but said it’s higher for online shoppers who use the tool than those who don’t.

“We’re doubling down on consumer insights,” she said.

Now, she said, thought is being given to where to go next — such as encouraging in-store shoppers to look at the technology as an alternative to the fitting room, or making the feature available for men’s and children’s clothing or eyewear.