Will try-on tech be the right fit for Walmart’s fashion business?

Source: Walmart
Mar 04, 2022

Walmart is looking to assure its new spring collections are the right fit for its customers. The retailing giant announced the rollout of try-on technology that it believes will lead to higher purchasing satisfaction and fewer merchandise returns.

The technology comes to Walmart via its acquisition last year of Zeekit, a virtual fitting room firm.

“One of the most frustrating aspects of shopping for clothes online is understanding how an item will actually look on you,” wrote Denise Incandela, EVP of apparel and private brands, Walmart U.S., in a company blog post. “With Zeekit, our goal is to deliver an inclusive, immersive and personalized digital experience that will better replicate physical shopping.”

The new technology is being made available to customers who use Walmart’s app or shop on walmart.com. The first phase will introduce the “Choose My Model” feature that enables customers to select an avatar in a similar size, shape and skin tone to their own.

Fifty model avatars ranging in height from 5’2” – 6’0” and in sizes from XS to XXXL are being offered initially with plans to add 70 others in the weeks to come that will expand the options for size, hair color and skin tone.

Walmart is focusing on owned and exclusive brands for the try-on tech rollout, including Free Assembly, Scoop, Sofia Jeans by Sofia Vergara, ELOQUII Elements, Time and Tru, Athletic Works, Terra & Sky, No Boundaries, Avia and The Pioneer Woman.

Plans are in place for the tech to be used with national brands beginning with Hane’s and Levi’s. The retailer is also planning to expand the use to apparel sold on its online marketplace, as well. Items compatible with Zeekit will be tagged to indicate that customers can try on clothing virtually.

Ms. Incandela described “Choose My Model” as a beginning for the retailer and its customers.

“We are also working to launch a virtual try-on experience for women’s apparel, moving with speed to bring this groundbreaking technology to our customers,” wrote Ms. Incandela. “With Zeekit’s visionary team, powered by the Walmart Global Technology platform in partnership with our Fashion Merchandising and ecommerce Site Merchandising organization, we have the incredible opportunity to revolutionize how our customers shop for clothes online.”

Walmart recently announced the launch of its spring collections for Free Assembly and Scoop. The new items mark the first full collections released under celebrity designer Robert Maxwell.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How will “Choose My Model” affect Walmart’s fashion reputation and sales? Will the technology have a significant impact on efforts to reduce returns?

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25 Comments on "Will try-on tech be the right fit for Walmart’s fashion business?"

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Mark Ryski

This is interesting technology that will become the norm in the future. Launching the technology will help make Walmart look a little more contemporary, but I doubt that it alone will significantly change the fashion perceptions of shoppers. However better fitting clothes should reduce returns.

Gary Sankary

Exactly what I was going to say Mark.

Bob Amster

Walmart will capture some of the aspirational customers that never thought of Walmart as an au courant fashion retailer. As to returns, indubitably “Choose My Model” will have a positive impact on reducing returns. It won’t eliminate returns but it will alleviate the problem.

Brian Delp
9 months 5 days ago

The novelty of it alone is sure to attract some new customers to try out the tech. Walmart has done a solid job of getting this featured in the press along with their new fashion brand launches. There is so much buzz right now that you have to be living under a rock not to notice.

Carol Spieckerman

It’s great to see Walmart confidently rolling out this technology. As with most things Walmart, the launch checks many boxes: Choose My Model arrives just in time for the spring launch of Walmart’s private brand revamps, it helps Walmart mitigate online returns, and potentially serves as yet another lure for hot brands and third-party sellers to Walmart’s online marketplace. Great timing!

Melissa Minkow

There are so many variables that will still make these models an imperfect translation of how something will fit on a shopper’s body. Though this approach will be more helpful than the usual size charts by themselves, until a consumer can see their actual self moving in the item, they won’t feel the level of certainty needed to be sure of their purchase decisions.

Cathy Hotka

Yes, yes, yes. Because women’s sizes are effectively meaningless (what exactly is a Medium?) returns have ballooned. Let’s hope that technologies like this can make a difference and increase customer satisfaction.

Georganne Bender

And the nicer the store, the smaller the size. Designer mediums are microscopic; at stores like Walmart they are much more generous. That’s why I don’t shop for clothing online unless I know how the retailer/brand sizes. You’d think retailers would get that by now.

Ryan Rosche

I look forward to seeing how this technology is adopted in the future. But one question that hasn’t been answered yet is, how do you know how the garment physically FEELS or FITS using a virtual model? The apparel shopping experience uses more than just one of our senses when making purchasing decisions.

Georganne Bender

Anything that makes it easier for female shoppers to choose the right size online is a positive.

I like this technology. It’s the online version of what QVC does every day: show fashions on a variety of shapes and sizes. And that’s key because a size XL is not just a larger version of a size small. The body proportions are different – that’s what this technology needs to get right in order for it to be truly helpful.

Jeff Sward

Step #1 is having brands and styles that will create the demand they are looking for. Step #2 is fit. And having over 50 avatars sounds great. But have they done the brand by brand, size by size, homework to determine whose “Large” will actually fit the different body shapes and sizes? Specs vary wildly between brands, and that’s always been the rub. Looking forward to hearing some real life testimonials that this is working.

Gene Detroyer

Whoa! Kinda cool! It certainly is forward thinking. Surely one of the biggest problems in buying apparel online is that it looks great on the perfect model, or should I say a model perfect to show off the garment, but who is perfect?

Mrs. D agrees and she adds it will help tremendously, but you still run into the problem that you really don’t know the quality or exact color of the merchandise.

I will add that choosing the avatar honestly may be cause some miss-fits. 🙂

Paula Rosenblum

This is a great start towards building a fashion reputation for Walmart, and will increase sales. I do have to say that DTC sales returns are a pretty much intractable number. There IS NO such thing as a virtual fitting room. I mean, there may be, but people will invariably want to see how a color and size works and moves on them.

It’s a good thing, but expectations around returns reduction should be low.

Ken Morris

I think it is a brilliant move and will definitely positively impact returns. Even if Walmart will never be a major fashion brand, it’s still a big part of their business. With over 60 models to chose from this should be a hit with consumers and Walmart.

Virtual fitting has been the illusory Holy Grail forever. Maybe with Zeekit’s technology, Walmart can pull it off. A virtual fitting room creates customer confidence in purchases. After all, one big payoff for Walmart should be the reduction of returns cutting the number of multi-size orders. Also, fewer returns will reduce environmental impact. Size inclusivity will also be key, and who doesn’t like an avatar?

Lisa Goller

Choose My Model adds to Walmart’s investments in driving omnichannel sales as a fashion destination.

Many stores that shut down over the past five years sold apparel, so Walmart sees the opportunity to fill a gap. Focusing on exclusive lines and private label for virtual try-ons is a smart way for Walmart to differentiate its assortment.

By personalizing online apparel, Choose My Model will improve certainty of fit and reduce costly returns.

Gary Sankary

I would agree with the sentiments posted here about reducing returns, and that this is interesting technology that will most likely become important in the industry. Will it move the needle for Walmart in fashion? I don’t think so.

Dave Bruno

While I remain a skeptic of virtual try-on apps, this “Choose My Model” concept seems to have the potential for a more realistic understanding of basic size/cut attributes. Far more so than avatars, in my opinion.

Rich Kizer

I am sure, with the volume of customers Walmart has, that this program will be tried by many. As with any program like this, there will be a trial period. There will surely be bumps in the road and, if these are not to large, Walmart is on to something. If Walmart thinks this will lead to a rapid adoption of new customers, don’t be too disappointed. This program has to work as well or better that other programs offering nearly the same options. Time will lead to adjustments.

Joan Treistman

I like the concept. Retailers and brands have been trying to make this happen for years. I’m not aware of any taking off. If the Walmart avatars can show what my behind looks like in those pants, I’ll give it a shot too!

Harley Feldman

This try-on technology will aid online sales as it will make consumers more comfortable in how they look in the fashion item. While it is not as good as trying on the item in person, it will remove some of the mystery as to how the consumer will look with the item on. It should help with returns in that consumers will be able to decide better about buying before making the purchase.

Shep Hyken

The words “Walmart” and “fashion” in the same sentence makes me smile. Seriously, Walmart has expanded its offerings. Yes, it’s a low-priced/discount retailer, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t expand its assortment to include a more comprehensive selection of fashion merchandise. Using “Choose My Model” is a great way of saying, “What would somebody with my body look like in those clothes?” versus, “I would never look that that good (as that perfectly in-shape model) in those clothes.” These types of technology enhancements to the retail experience are becoming more and more popular.

James Tenser

Lots could be good about “Choose My Model” for Walmart fashion. Personalized curation by size and dimensions is a first step. Incorporate a learning component to improve fit accuracy over time, and shopper loyalty will follow.


Walmart has tried to come at retail/online from every which way, so this is a logical extension. At the end of the day, they have always had an apparel quality problem and I’m not sure I’d buy their apparel online without being able to also feel it in addition to checking sizing.

Trevor Sumner

Great points throughout and I would like to add an additional idea … that this will be used heavily in advertising personalization. Once Walmart knows your size, they will use this to retarget customers in their size and in their favorite models. Increased conversion offsite will be a big driver of value.

Steve Johnson

So here’s the thing … it’s already been adopted by ASOS in the U.K. and I’ve not heard or seen there’s been much benefit. There’s other tech available that’s more accurate. For example Wear Happyness has proven it can reduce online returns by as much as 70% for womenswear. We plan to soft launch in the US later this year. Wear Happyness also considers body shapes, however we recognise more than 4,000 female forms. Interestingly we see a future of smarter physical stores which, based on early tests, we’re confident we can double clothing turnover in half the space.

"Looking forward to hearing some real life testimonials that this is working."

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