Walmart Partners With Shopify To Capitalize On Wave Of Online Shopping During Pandemic

Walmart is partnering with the e-commerce platform Shopify in a deal that seeks to take advantage of the digital spending surge during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The partnership will add 1,200 new Shopify vendors to Walmart’s third-party marketplace website by the end of the year, giving online shoppers access to more products. Walmart Marketplace already offers items sold by over a million businesses. 

Walmart will be able to offer products from more U.S.-based small and medium-size businesses through the partnership, the retailer said Monday. 

“We’re excited to be able (to) offer customers an expanded assortment while also giving small businesses access to the surging traffic on Walmart.Com,” Walmart said in a press release. 

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Shopify, which went public in 2015, is a selling platform that allows anyone to set up a store and offer products online and in-person. The deal gives merchants access to Walmart’s broad customer base. The partnership also helps Walmart better compete with Amazon, a market leader in e-commerce. 

Walmart recently combined its grocery app with its main app.

Walmart recently combined its grocery app with its main app. (Photo: Walmart)

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, has seen a surge in digital purchases over the past few months with Americans under stay at home orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus. 

The company’s U.S. business grew 74% last quarter, but marketplace sales outpaced the overall business, Walmart said.

In the first quarter, which ended March 31, Americans spent $160.3 billion online, up 13.7% from the same period in 2019, according to the latest U.S. Department of Commerce data. Those sales encompassed a lot of the panic buying that took place as people stocked up after the pandemic was declared. 

After collecting a total of 958 dresses and 999 tops spanning 68 fashion models, the researchers used a pretrained model to extract visual features from the catalog images, capturing the overall color, pattern, and silhouette of the clothing. They mined the most frequent words in all descriptions for all catalog entries to build a vocabulary of attributes and then obtained an array of binary attributes for each garment, which captured localized and subtle properties like specific necklines, sleeve cuts, and fabric. Lastly, they estimated a 3D human body model from each image to capture the fine-grained shape cues.

The researchers also developed an automatic approach to recommending clothing to people based on their body shapes. It maps a subject’s body shape into the learned representations and, leveraging trained models, takes the closest and furthest 400 clothing items as the most and least suitable garments.

In experiments, for the slender subjects, ViBE recommended shorter dresses that fit or flare, which could show off their legs. For petite people, it found the most suitable attributes are waistbands and empire styles that create taller looks, as well as embroidery and ruffles that increase volume. For curvier body shapes, ViBE predicted the most suitable attributes are extended or 3/4 sleeves that cover the arms, v-necklines that create an extended slimmer appearance, and wrap or side-splits that define waists while revealing curves around the upper legs.

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