Amazon launches virtual tours platform called Amazon Explore

By TIN Media | Technology Published 1 month ago on 30 September 2020
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Amazon is launching a new service called Amazon Explore that allows customers to book live, virtual experiences led by local experts. The experiences may be focused on creativity, learning DIY skills, taking virtual tours of far-off places or cultural landmarks or, in some cases, shopping local boutiques from around the world.

For example, you could book a virtual wine tasting experience in Argentina, learn how to make smoked fish tacos in Mexico, take a virtual tour of Kyoto’s Nanzenji Temple, tour a 500-year-old mansion in Peru, learn about coffee creation in Costa Rica, learn how to make sushi from a home kitchen in Tokyo and more.

The virtual tours will be escorted by Amazon experts who are especially trained for such experiences. The Amazon Explore session will involve a one-way video and a two-way audio for real-time conversation. Here's more about the Amazon Explore session:

Amazon Explore session will range between 30-to-60 minutes in length. It can be canceled or rescheduled with up to 24 hours of notice. To begin a virtual tour, users will have to sign-in into their Amazon account. Click on to the 'Your Session' page from the 'Your Orders' section to get started.

Amazon Explore session isn't mobile-friendly as of now. Users will need to have a laptop or a desktop with either Chrome, Edge, or Safari web browser installed in it.

The sessions will require you have a laptop or desktop, as they’re not mobile-friendly at this time. You’ll also need to have a Chrome, Edge or Safari web browser, functional microphone (the built-in one is fine) and a set of headphones or speakers, as well as an internet connection of 5 mbps or higher.

During the session, you can ask questions or further direct the experience by asking the host to spend more time on one aspect of the experience or skipping another. You can also use the camera icon at the bottom of the live stream to take photos.

Some, but not all, experiences are also shopping-enabled. In these cases, customers are able to visit local stores and markets, browse items and ask questions of the shop owner as if they were there in person. They can then choose to make a purchase and receive the items they bought as if they had been shopping on directly. When they make a purchase, the payments are handled within Amazon’s secure payment system using the payment method associated with the customer’s account. It then will reimburse the host for the item purchased, accordingly.

In these shopping-enabled experiences, Amazon is somewhat tapping into the live-stream shopping trend, but instead of having an influencer talk about and demo a product — as is often the case on Amazon Live, for example — you can actually ask the shop owner questions or have them zoom into the product or turn it over and around for a better look.

Though Amazon has built live-streaming tools for its Live platform, the company says the Amazon Explore experience uses unique technology.

Amazon says the new platform enables more opportunities for small business owners looking to generate additional income, including shop owners, local guides, chefs, stylists, artists and artisans, for example. Many of these businesses have been impacted by the pandemic, of course, which may prompt their participation.

Pricing for the sessions is variable. At launch, there’s a virtual styling session being offered for just $10, for example. Meanwhile, a virtual tour of NYC’s Central Park is going for $150. Amazon says the hosts set their own prices and hours, without having to abide by any set minimum or maximum price. However, the company declined to detail any revenue-sharing agreements.

At launch, many of the experiences on the site offered are being offered by local tour operators, though any business that has a tour idea is invited to apply. Others who could host experiences include historians, artists, musicians, master craftsmen, chefs, personal shoppers or anyone with a skill or adventure to share, says Amazon.

There are currently 86 total experiences available across 16 countries, with the plan to grow the selection in time.



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