the Amazon Salon

Amazon has already taken over consumers’ doorsteps with delivery boxes, launched into the streaming TV wars, bought into grocery with Whole Foods and developed a high-tech and highly automated convenience store. Now it’s coming for the hair salon. 

Well, at least one hair salon. 

The tech giant launched Amazon Salon on Tuesday, giving the world a new vision of the hairstyling experience with a 1,500-square-foot, two-level outpost on Brushfield Street in London’s Spitalfields district. 

Amazon said it is not looking to open more salons, but will use the location to test the latest technology, from augmented reality hair consultations to point-and-learn functionality.

The actual styling will be done the old-fashioned way, provided by Elena Lavagni, owner of Neville Hair & Beauty, an independent London salon. 

John Boumphrey, Amazon’s U.K. country manager, said: “We have designed this salon for customers to come and experience some of the best technology, hair care products and stylists in the industry. We want this unique venue to bring us one step closer to customers, and it will be a place where we can collaborate with the industry and test new technologies.”

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Coming from the world of technology — where “pivot” can be a polite way of saying “we threw out our business plan and are trying something completely different” — Amazon is very ready to test and iterate and try out new ideas.

In fact, Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and outgoing chief executive officer, told shareholders in 2019 that as the company grew bigger, it needed to take bigger risks. “If the size of your failures isn’t growing, you’re not going to be inventing at a size that can actually move the needle,” he said. “Amazon will be experimenting at the right scale for a company of our size if we occasionally have multibillion-dollar failures.” 

Amazon Salon is surely not that big of a bet, but it is part of the company’s growing push in the related worlds of beauty and fashion, which saw the launch of a long looked for luxury app last year. 

The opportunities abound and are big. 

Last month, marketing and media agency Stella Rising estimated that Amazon currently accounts for one third of the online beauty market. The company’s beauty, health and personal care business grew 45 percent to $23 billion in 2020, according to estimates. 

That growth has come as the company pushed into beauty in recent years, getting into the professional business, introducing its own beauty brand, building a live streaming platform for beauty influencers and more. 

The new Amazon Salon is an experiential part of that larger effort. The company said it is intended as a showcase only and will support the U.K. launch of the Amazon Professional Beauty Store, which carries more than 10,000 salon and spa products and supplies with wholesale pricing and invoicing, no minimum order value and fast delivery. 

Open only to Amazon employees for the first few weeks, the salon will offer customers augmented reality to try on different hair colors and also “a dedicated creative area” to capture the new look. 

“Showcasing a selection of bestselling professional hair care products, the salon will also test new point-and-learn technology, where customers can simply point at the product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen,” Amazon said. “To order the products, customers can scan the relevant QR code on the shelf to visit the product detail page on Amazon.co.uk and purchase, with delivery direct to their home.”

 

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