Shopify’s ‘Magic’ AI image editor can make any product pics look professional

Screenshot of Shopify’s image editor generating new backgrounds for a shiny winter jacket based on a text prompt.
Shopify Magic Media Editor. | Image: Shopify

The Shopify Magic suite of generative AI tools that launched in April last year is adding a media editor that brings generative image fill to its platform and conversational search powered by AI. Merchants can prompt the image editor to change photo backgrounds without Photoshop experience to match whatever theme they have in mind.

Shopify’s AI editor can also suggest backgrounds and styles that match existing product images in the merchant’s library once it rolls out this spring.

Glen Coates, Shopify’s vice president of product, says many sellers on the platform don’t have access to big studios or professional photographers, but they still need to set their items up for success. Since there’s no additional cost to use this tool, it meets that demand. “We know not everyone has access to studios or mannequins, so we want to lower the barriers to entry for entrepreneurs to present their products in the best light,” Coates tells The Verge in an interview. “We’re not forcing anyone to use this feature, but it will be an extra helping hand.”

A simulation of the image editing tool that creates a snowy background for a pair of boots in several different styles.
Image: Shopify
The model pulls from seven styles: minimal, which has more neutral backdrops; vibrant for fun and bright colors; natural with nature scenes; urban, which brings up cityscapes; rugged, which generates raw material elements; refined, which is the opposite of rugged materials; and surreal, which creates backgrounds that “violate the very laws of nature.”

Other generative AI tools Shopify added last spring include automated product descriptions, chatbot integration, and suggested replies for chats between merchants and buyers.

While Shopify does host larger brands — Kim Kardashian’s Skims uses the platform — a large chunk of its users are smaller independent sellers and direct-to-customer businesses. Shopify’s tools are competing with AI-powered features from other online shopping platforms. Amazon is testing one where customers can ask specific questions about products, and it has already rolled out AI tools that summarize product reviews and recommend clothing sizes.

The new search feature doesn’t rely on traditional Boolean searches or keyword matching, like “wedding guest dress spring.” Coates says people would rather write a more conversational search, like “I need a dress to wear to a wedding in spring.” Now, Shopify’s semantic search will read the intention behind the search string and, Coates says, will return more relevant results.

Coates says Shopify built its suite of AI tools with a mix of AI foundation models, and according to Shopify, they have watermarking and moderation tools built in. “We use models like GPT and Llama 2 and figure out which model works best for the feature we’re building,” he says.