Walmart is extending its push into fashion as it looks to enhance the customer shopping experience of buying clothes online.
The discount giant plans to purchase Zeekit, a female-founded, Israeli-based virtual fitting room start-up whose retail clients include Asos. The platform uses augmented reality to allow shoppers to virtually try-on clothes. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
When the experience is live on Walmart.com, customers will be able to virtually try on clothes from the chain’s expanding line-up of fashion brands. To use it, the customers uploads 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. Customers can also share their virtual outfits with friends for a second opinion, enabling a social shopping experience.
“(I)n an increasingly online-driven category, customers not only want variety in styles, but also an inspiring and personalized digital experience that makes shopping for apparel easy, fun and social,” said Denise Incandela, executive VP of apparel and private brands, Walmart U.S., in a corporate blog post. “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.”
The Zeekit platform 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. Given its scalability, Walmart believes it can apply Zeekit’s technology to create other fashion experiences, such as ability to build a virtual closet and mix and match clothing seamlessly.
“Zeekit will help us deliver an inclusive, immersive and personalized experience for our diverse customer base,” Incandela said.
At closing, Zeekit’s team and three founders – CEO Yael Vizel, CTO Alon Kristal, and VP of research and development – will join Walmart.
Walmart has been actively increasing its presence in fashion retailing in the past few years. Other notable fashion-oriented moves include hiring celebrity designer and “Project Runway” judge Brandon Maxwell as creative director for its “elevated” fashion brands, launching an online fashion resale venture with ThredUp, and releasing the “Free Assembly” private label fashion brand.