Swedish start-up Local Purse is leading the way with livestream shopping tours of souks and markets around the world, in partnership with Intrepid Travel. Erica Jamieson reports
Amid continued coronavirus travel bans and restrictions, Local Purse has re-envisioned the travel shopping experience, offering live video tours that blend merchandise browsing and cultural exploration from the comfort of your living room.
The Swedish start-up is officially launching in 2021 with the goal of supporting local artisans and tour guides most impacted by the pandemic. According to Local Purse, the global travel industry has lost an estimated US$1 trillion in revenue and over 100 millions jobs.
“Local guides and artisans are often the most memorable people we meet when we travel. They teach us about culture, traditions and share the crafts they created with love. This is a way to give something back without having to leave your home,” CEO and co-founder Lola Åkerström told Pebble Mag.Virtual experiences of all kinds are booming right now. From museum tours to safaris, nearly a year of lockdown has people ready to see the world outside their homes. Local Purse hopes to capitalise on that drive, while also supporting sustainable commerce and small-scale vendors.
“Our questions for live video shopping are, can we use it for good so that it’s not just more consumerism?” Åkerström told Skift, “How can we bring this concept that’s so popular in retail e-commerce into the travel industry? And how can we help local governments as well as the artisans and other people who preserve traditions?”
Local Purse kicked off sales for the holiday season with a two-day virtual event in early December. For €10 per broadcast, shoppers were guided through the Medina of Marrakech, Morocco, and visited two stores owned by local entrepreneurs.
Before making purchases, customers were given the opportunity to ask questions and interact with the artisans, like they would in person.
During the first event, shoppers toured Koutoubia Herbal, a small spice and wellness store run by Marrakech native Abdeljalil Raqas. Though the virtual event is over, gift boxes comprising skin purification products, massage and spa items, and traditional spices are available for purchase, from €85.Handmade rugs are also available, courtesy of Dar Mjber, a store visited during the event’s second day. Each rug is handmade by women from tribes across Morocco, and start at €340.
Each tour also visited AlNour a social enterprise that supports women with disabilities to find work, and offers health insurance, a pension, and free childcare for mothers. Along with their purchases, shoppers were given the opportunity to support AlNour with a donation, and tip their virtual tour guide.The event was hosted in partnership with Intrepid Travel, the world’s largest certified B Corp travel company that has led small groups on locally-led excursions since 1989.
Next year, consumers should expect to see more live group events in up to 20 destinations, along with private tour experiences. Local Purse will continue to partner with Intrepid Travel, and pair artisan excursions with visits to local NGOs and tourist attractions.