With the dire need to cater to customer’s online needs and making a push into the fashion industry, Walmart announced that it is acquiring a virtual fitting room start-up called Zeekit. The retailer, however, neither disclosed the financial terms nor cited the quiet period ahead of reporting its first-quarter earnings.
It was posted on the company’s website where Walmart U.S.’s executive vice president of apparel and private brands Denise Incandela mentioned customers will be able to use the feature to try on items from both Walmart’s private labels and the national brands it carries, such as Free People, Champion, and Levi Strauss & Co.
Whenever the technology will launch on Walmart’s website, the customers will be able to either upload pictures of themselves or choose from among different models that represent that height, shape, and skin tone. Subsequently, the technology will give a glimpse of how your clothing would look, fit and resemble the experience they have at any brick-and-mortar store. Moreover, they can also enlist a friend’s help in deciding on a purchase by sharing the virtual outfit and getting an opinion.
By acquiring the start-up, Walmart is hoping to improve the customer experience and make online shopping more social, Incandela said.
“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,” she said in the website post. “Zeekit will help us deliver an inclusive, immersive, and personalized experience for our diverse customer base.”
Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, although is known for selling groceries, basic tees and household items, is now pushing itself into the fashion industry. It has managed to raise its profile by buying clothing companies with a following, including menswear retailer Bonobos, women’s brand ModCloth and plus-sized brand Eloquii. It has also launched its own private labels, including Sofia Jeans, developed with actress Sofia Vergara, and Free Assembly, a men’s and women’s clothing brand designed by the former chief creative officer at Bonobos. Furthermore, it has made a deal with fashion resale site, ThredUp, to sell gently used fashion apparel and accessories — a way to carry more higher-end brands on Walmart’s website, but at a wallet-friendly price.
This kind of expansion is anticipated to aim at competitors like Amazon, the top seller of apparel in the U.S. Walmart is the country’s second-largest apparel seller, with an estimated $33.43 billion in total apparel and footwear sales in 2020 compared with Amazon’s $41.15 billion, according to Wells Fargo.
Walmart’s apparel lines include a mix of brands — some made up of mostly low-priced basics, such as Time and Tru and George, and four that it considers more upscale: Sofia Jeans, Scoop, Free Assembly, and Eloquii Elements.
Zeekit is a female-founded start-up that’s based in Tel Aviv, Israel. Its team and three founders CEO Yael Vizel, Chief Technology Officer Alon Kristal, and Vice President of Research and Development Nir Appleboim will join Walmart as part of the deal. Incandela said the company will also bring expertise in real-time image technologies, computer vision, and artificial intelligence, which it can use for other parts of Walmart’s fashion business.