As Walmart continues to expand its apparel prowess, its next move will be to try on virtual fitting tech.
Walmart announced it plans to acquire Zeekit for an undisclosed sum. The female-founded, Israeli-based company offers a dynamic virtual fitting room platform through technology that 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.
In addition to improving the e-commerce shopping experience, getting sizing right can reduce the number of returns a retailer sees. While the total rate of returns is in line with recent years, according to NRF, online returns more than doubled in 2020 from 2019 and are a major driver of the overall growth of returns. Virtual fitting rooms allow home shoppers to try on products, helping to reduce the frequency of returns.
As e-commerce shopping rates rise, it's less than surprising that Walmart is investing in virtual fitting.
“Virtual try-on is a game-changer and solves what has historically been one of the most difficult things to replicate online: understanding fit and how an item will actually look on you,” said Denise Incandela, EVP of Apparel and Private Brands, Walmart U.S., in a blog. “Zeekit will help us deliver an inclusive, immersive and personalized experience for our diverse customer base.”
With the acquisition, Walmart customers will soon be able to virtually try on items from Walmart’s growing assortment of national brands, which includes Free People, Champion and Levi’s Strauss, as well as a mix of exclusive brands, including private brands like Time and Tru, Terra & Sky, Wonder Nation and George, and elevated brands like ELOQUII Elements, Free Assembly, Scoop and Sofia Jeans by Sofia Vergara.
When the experience is live on Walmart.com, customers will upload their picture or choose from a series of models that best represent their height, shape and skin tone to instantly see themselves in any item of clothing, mimicking the experience of trying on clothes in a store. They can share their virtual outfits with friends for a second opinion, which will expand on Walmart’s social engagement.
“Given its scalability, we believe Zeekit’s technology can also be used to create other fashion experiences, including the ability to build the world’s largest virtual closet and mix and match clothing seamlessly,” said Incandela. “These exciting technologies add a social element to the digital experience, allowing our customers to bring their unique personalities and preferences to shopping.”
When the deal closes, Walmart will add Zeekit’s team and three founders – Yael Vizel as its CEO, Alon Kristal, chief technology officer and Nir Appleboim, vice president of research and development.
“We’re confident that with the team’s expertise in bringing real-time image technologies, computer vision and artificial intelligence to the world of fashion, we’ll identify even more ways to innovate for our customers in our continued effort to be the first-choice destination for fashion,” said Incandela.