Unlimited Customization: How AI-Powered Image Modification Accelerates Ecommerce

Photo of Kamil Puk

Kamil Puk

Updated Jun 13, 2024 • 10 min read
Portrait of woman shopping on internet with tablet

If the genAI market keeps evolving at the current pace, it’s set to reach a staggering $1.3 trillion by 2032 and there are many ways in which this technology can be used – and that’s good news for a lot of companies.

It’s common knowledge that running a business, irrespective of its nature, is both difficult and time-consuming. Back in the day, even the smallest companies needed to bring on board an additional pair of hands if they were to scale their operations.

Today, organizations – both small and large – can automate manual tasks through image generation and post-production by using AI. In fact, 78% of ecommerce brands say that they either already use AI or plan to use it in the near future.

In this article, I’m going to discuss the different ways AI is changing how online stores create and use AI-enhanced imagery. I also share a couple of real-life examples of AI tech used by ecommerce brands.

How is AI reshaping photo workflows?

Traditionally, capturing product images involved tedious tasks like manual background removal, lighting adjustments, and organizing photoshoots for different product variants.

Nowadays, it’s much easier to produce high-quality imagery thanks to automated photo editing, which is revolutionizing retail. It typically involves the use of algorithms and software to enhance, manipulate, or modify digital images without manual intervention.

After analyzing an image, the AI “sees” various elements and either lets you modify or extract them and use them to create a completely new visual.

Use cases for AI-powered image modification

  • Background removal – Remember how people used to ask the online photo editing community questions like “could someone please remove the man in the background” or “make it look like I’m on a beach”? Nowadays, they can have AI to do that for them. AI-powered image modification software lets you tweak the background in seconds, without asking you to manually mark the elements you want to keep. How can AI swap out backgrounds so easily? It recognizes the elements you ask to keep in your prompt through computer vision. Depending on your needs, you can further prompt the tool to improve the image quality through techniques like color change or applying post-processing filters.
  • Virtual try-on experiences – Virtual try-ons remain one of the most exciting image modification technologies in ecommerce, as they let potential buyers “try on” fashion items and makeup. All the user needs to do is provide a photo of themselves. AI will spot key elements like the person’s nose and eyes for facial photos, or knees, arms, and head for full-body pictures. For makeup, it will also automatically check the skin tone’s HEX value. It then “maps” the product onto the user’s body just as if they were standing in a real-life fitting room.
  • 3D visualizations – This use case sets the bar a little higher, as you’re asking AI to create a 3D reflection of a space or a multi-dimensional object. This technology is particularly popular among home decor ecommerce stores, which let you scan a room with a phone and then see what a piece of furniture would look like in your space.
  • Visual search – AI analyzes visual features of images, including colors, shapes and patterns to find similar ones within a database. Thanks to the use of deep learning, especially convolutional neural networks (CNNs), AI is able to precisely identify what people are looking for and suggest content that is similar. For example, if someone is searching for a pair of sneakers, but they can’t describe them verbally, all they have to do is use visual search and upload a photo of the shoes. The AI-powered system will scan it to find similar trainers available for purchase on the website.
  • Image compression - Thanks to the use of deep learning-based codecs, AI can help with image compression. This is possible through leveraging neural networks, which enable size image reduction without compromising quality.
  • Image and video generation - AI can create images and videos by using Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) and Variational Autoencoders (VAEs). These models learn by analyzing thousands of realistic images and videos. This can come in handy in creating product visualizations, content localization and the above-mentioned visual try-ons.

What are the benefits of using AI to modify images?

  • Reducing time-to-market – AI significantly cuts down time-to-market as you can list your products a lot faster by speeding up image post-production.
  • Adding visual consistency – AI ensures that the quality of images or videos stays consistent across the board, which has a positive impact on both brand image and customer experience. For instance, you could standardize the image background or center the objects to make them more visually appealing.
  • Driving efficiency – If you run a large ecommerce store and want to add new products, you’ll also have to upload their images. You’ll now be able to do it a lot faster thanks to AI, which will save you from adding extra resources.
  • Decreasing operational costs – As AI allows you to fully automate photo post-production, it will reduce – if not totally remove – the need for manual editing. This, in turn, will lower operational costs, as AI can process images in batches without human involvement. Also, ecommerces can now pay a monthly subscription for AI editing instead of being charged by photographers for manual post-production work.
  • Easy-to-implement technology – AI solutions are easy to implement, even for companies that are not as tech-savvy. It can take as little as one hour to have it up and running.
  • Scaling image production – This benefit, once again, comes down to minimizing the need for manual work like time-consuming photoshoot staging and edits. Knowing that they’ll be able to refine their images automatically post-production, photographers can focus more on the creative part of their work.
  • Unlimited photo variations – AI lets you experiment with different colors, filters, backgrounds, or even mix images to generate different visuals. For example, you can use a photo of a black dress, which comes in ten other colors, and apply the relevant colors automatically. All it takes is just one ‘starter’ photo.
  • Adaptability to new visual trends – Say that you’re selling a mid-century style, classic chair, but the only photo you have is dated. The rest of the items didn’t stand the test of time. Normally, you’d have to organize a new photoshoot for the chair; now, you can import the image and ask AI to adjust the background, change the image composition, etc. This can be a quick trick to keep your photos as modern as possible.
  • Higher sales – This is, arguably, the strongest benefit of all. AI can help you generate income – whether you’re giving your customers the option to try on products virtually or refine images to make them more appealing to your target buyers.

Examples of companies that use AI for image modification


The Swedish decor giant has long offered its clients the option to customize their shopping experiences, for example, by designing their dream kitchen layouts or personalizing legendary pieces like PAX closets. Now, they have taken it a step further by letting clients see what the furniture would look like in a home setting.

Their app allows customers to view IKEA products, and design ideas in 3D – all thanks to AI-powered image modification technology. There are over 50 showrooms available. It also allows clients to design their own living spaces, which they can edit and fill with different IKEA products. Once they’re filled the room with all the items, they can save the designs or go straight to checkout.


Sephora has an AI powered virtual artist that allows customers to get a makeover without leaving their home. The makeup app uses facial recognition to let people try on different beauty products – it scans the entire face to know where to place each product.

Clients can easily see what a specific lip color or eye shadow would look on them, and if they like it, they can buy it instantly without visiting a store. On top of trying new looks, customers can even get customized tutorials of products that would match their skin tone (or even clothes) and compare tons of different colors and shades instantly.

AI photo modification boosts ecommerce productivity

AI-powered image editing is here to stay – it’s a fact that even companies like Adobe, which used to pioneer in manual editing software, admit. More than that; they themselves have now shifted into AI-powered features, too.

One of the brand’s executives said that “technology is the co-pilot to creativity.” Ecommerce brands should live by this statement, allowing their photographers and designers to focus on creative work, leaving repetitive tasks to the “machines”.

Photo of Kamil Puk

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Kamil Puk

Delivery Director | Retail at Netguru
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