AI is becoming a core business tool industry wide. According to Exploding Topics, 77% of companies globally incorporate AI into everyday business practices. For many, the benefits are clear, with a further 81% reporting an enhancement of productivity across their business since the introduction of the technology.
The reaped advantages of AI have led to its accessibility being deemed a necessity for businesses. So much so that initiatives such as Perfect Corp. AI accelerator programs have been put into place to allow those without the financial means access to the technology and the opportunity to grow alongside it. At this point, an increasing number of brands are utilizing AI for a range of reasons, from skin consultations, to robotic beauty services, and even supermarket shopping. Walmart is the latest business to adopt AI, working alongside Perfect Corp. to equip its customers with try-on beauty technology.
Walmart's AI implementation will create a hyperrealistic vision of what 1,400+ products from over 20 beauty brands, including e.l.f. Cosmetics, Maybelline, and NYX Professional Makeup, will look like on each individual consumer. The technology will be accessible via Walmart's iOS app and cover product categories, including blush, lip color, eye shadow, and bronzer—helping customers to find the best shade for them, whether in-store or on their couch.
The introduction of try-on-technology comes at a time when personalization is a huge priority for customers when choosing where and how to shop for their beauty essentials. Specifically, 75% of consumers would pay more for beauty products if they had access to personalized online shopping for makeup and skincare SKUs. Walmart hopes to lead the way for customized experiences within beauty, democratizing accessibility to enticing retail experiences and digital innovation.
"As a destination for beauty, we're committed to identifying new and emerging opportunities to inspire our customers and create more personalized, seamless, customer-centric shopping experiences. That's why I'm so excited that Walmart is launching Beauty Virtual Try-On, to offer customers a more engaging and convenient try-on experience on the Walmart app," says Creighton Kiper, Vice President of Beauty at Walmart US.
Giving consumers access to a more personalized shopping experience is just one of the many ways Walmart has worked to evolve over the years. It was under the leadership of the former Vice President of Beauty, Musab Balbale, that Walmart's beauty department began soaring to success with new brands, campaigns, and activations. At the time, he shared with BeautyMatter, "We changed the way we talked to brands; we pitched them on our strength of sales and the accessibility we offer. We started to share more about our customers. What I would tell brands is we are incredibly open right now."
Since then, Walmart Beauty has grown to provide what is considered one of the broadest and most diverse range of offerings in the industry, leading to it becoming the launch partner of several successful brands, including TikTok sensation Bubble and Uoma by Sharon C. Other successful moments for the business include Walmart Start, a beauty incubator program that guides small businesses to success, and has been responsible for the growth of brands including Dossier, Pardon My Fro, and Undefined Beauty.
Walmart Beauty's expansion journey also led to an outreach to a new customer base. In March 2022, the retailer amplified its beauty strategy by partnering with SpaceNK to launch BeautySpaceNK, a dedicated section in Walmart stores that stocks premium beauty brands in a bid to entice the luxury consumer into stores. Walmart has a perception of attracting budget-minded shoppers, but company data supports high foot traffic from affluent consumers making regular visits to buy a broad assortment of products. Walmart continues to expand the space dedicated to beauty, stretching the price points in the category while ensuring that products are available for all consumers at all price points.
Another focal point for the business is sustainability. The retailer believes the AI try-on technology will lead to a more sustainable business model, eliminating the need for physical product samples, helping minimize product waste, and reducing harmful impacts on the environment.
This is not the first time Walmart has used AI to further its sustainability journey; recently, the retailer incorporated it across its fulfillment network. The fulfillment technology works to create a package that is custom fit to consumers' orders as opposed to having a set range of shipping box sizes. It is predicted that by eliminating unused space in shipping boxes, the need for protective filler is reduced by 60%, reducing waste caused by oversized boxes by 26%. Consumers are also given the option to request consolidation of multiple items into fewer boxes, decreasing not only the amount of waste but also the number of shipments.
"Our commitment to regeneration is core to who we are and how we innovate at Walmart. Customers have told us how excited they are about these enhancements to make it easier for them to make more sustainable choices that support the planet and the next generation," Karisa Sprague, Senior Vice President of Fulfillment Network Operations, Walmart US, stated.
Although convenience may still be the driver bringing customers into Walmart stores, it is the steps the retailer is making to accommodate a wider range of customers and their needs that is leading to its success. With over 4,700 stores across the US, 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store, and over 140 million customers are served online weekly. Implementing measures for sustainable growth and expansion in indie, mainstream, and luxury product categories, as well as the new adoption of AI, will continue Walmart on its journey to becoming the top bidder in an industry full of competition.
"As we look to the future, AI- and AR-powered technology will continue to be integral for Walmart and other retailers to engage customers and offer customized shopping experiences to all," concludes Perfect Corp. CEO and Founder Alice Chang.
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