18 August 2022
By Kristen Daly
Showpo has long fused fashion with technological innovation and a focus on inclusivity. Now, in an industry-first trial with Meta, we’re taking our ambitions to new heights by showing our products on a diverse range of models using artificial intelligence (AI).
Today when browsing Showpo.com, customers see many of our styles photographed on more than one model, with different body sizes, body types, ethnicities and more represented. This has long been the case, with Showpo promoting diversity across its online catalogue ahead of many other brands.
But what if we could increase that representation tenfold - for one, by showing every single Showpo style modelled in every size available? That’s the exciting vision Showpo is working towards as part of a groundbreaking four-week trial with Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.
Handpicked by Meta for this project, Showpo will from this week start serving customers video advertisements with models of different sizes and ethnicities wearing its bestselling, in-house designs - without actually modelling them IRL.
The AI technology behind these ads is designed to empower customers, create more work for models, and allow fashion retailers like Showpo to develop personalised content for diverse audiences while also saving on costs.
So how does it work exactly? For Showpo the trial process began with real models, carefully selected by its creative team and photographed to be “remade” as AI 3D models, in partnership with AI platform Vue AI.
With special licensing agreements in place, these AI 3D models featured in three computer-generated videos created by Showpo in collaboration with Orchid creative agency.
This technology can fuse real-model and mannequin product photography to show the AI models "wearing" Showpo styles.
Pictured above: static snapshot of video ad content developed by Showpo with Meta and AI collaborators; pictured below: Showpo's standard product carousel
Set to appear across Facebook and Instagram, these ads are the first to be made by a fashion company in collaboration with Meta and other AI collaborators.
But for CEO and Founder Jane Lu and the team, they’re just the latest step in a longstanding journey of ensuring Showpo customers feel respected and included.
"We want our customers to feel represented and to be able to easily see themselves in Showpo," she says.
For one, the ability this new technology gives Showpo to apply a single outfit to a wide variety of models across its size 4 to size 20 range is a goal the business has had in mind since first extending its size offering in 2016.
"We launched the extended range with our 'butterfly product gallery', whereby we showed the sample size model next to the curve model on our category pages," she adds.
“We toyed with the idea of shooting the same product on even more models, but when costed up, it wasn’t commercial. So we put the idea on ice."
"However now, using AI model outputs, we’ll finally be able to showcase thousands of styles on an even more diverse range of models in our advertising. If it’s successful, it will allow us to do this at scale, something that was not achievable before."
Showpo is Australia based, but the key demographic for this trial is an expanding market for the business - the US.
Across the next month, US customers will start receiving AI video content from Showpo in the same way they would receive any other Showpo ad: on Instagram and Facebook, and through feed, story and reel formats. Same as in the traditional ads, there will be a "Shop Now" call to action linking to Showpo.com.
Pictured above and below: static snapshots of video ad content developed by Showpo with Meta and AI collaborators
The ads will be split-tested against Showpo’s regular eCommerce assets, allowing the team to identify the success of these AI model outputs in driving traffic and conversions, and to repurpose them in new campaigns or eCommerce assets in the Australian market.
For Showpo, a localised approach is key. The three trial ads made for US customers feature models of diverse sizes and ethnicities, with African American, Asian and Caucasian backgrounds represented; if expanded to other markets, this content would be personalised for each area.
This is good news for models, who are likely to receive more work - not less - as a result of AI technology. It’s still early days, but it’s expected that brands will gravitate towards AI as a way of accessing diverse talent for global markets without the usual geographical limitations.
A US-based model, for example, could be paid to have their 3D likeness used in one of Showpo’s US ads, without having to leave the country for a photoshoot in Australia or elsewhere.
Models turning to this new income stream would also benefit from charging an annual licensing fee not possible prior to this AI model technology.
There are improvements anticipated for Showpo’s internal operations, too. On-model product photography in eCommerce studios would still occur, but with access to Vue AI’s diverse library of AI models, aspects of this process could be automated in a cost efficient and scalable way.
This move towards AI and 3D design and other forms of digital innovation as a means of transforming work processes for the better is increasingly desirable to brands following the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic and other destabilising external events.
"Using 3D models in ads is a potential game changer for eCommerce brands. By providing a more personalised purchase journey, we hope this will help boost purchase intent and Return on Ad Spend (ROAS), as well as reduce returns," said Charlee Standley, Senior Digital Marketer at Showpo.
"Working with Meta to bring this trial to life using AI video ads exemplifies Showpo's digital-first approach to business and marketing, whilst ensuring we can continue to embrace diversity thanks to Vue AI’s diverse library of models."
In the weeks ahead, the Showpo team will watch closely to see how the AI video ads perform. If they’re a hit on Facebook and Instagram, the tech may be rolled out on site, and beyond.
"And trial, by its name, is just the start," Jane adds.
"There’s so much more we can do in this space, with the power of AI and through our collaborative partnership with Meta, which we are super excited about!"
Showpo's trial with Meta launches on August 18, 2022 and runs for four weeks.
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