By Katie Deighton
Amazon.com Inc. opened its first hair salon Tuesday. Located in
London's Spitalfields shopping district, Amazon Salon offers
hairdressing services dressed up with technology, including
augmented-reality hair consultations.
The two-storey, 1,500-square-foot store also includes
entertainment streaming on Amazon Fire tablets and a test of a new
"point and learn" experience for bricks-and-mortar retail. The
technology lets customers point at an item on a shelf to display
product information on a screen mounted behind.
Consumers looking to purchase items for sale, such as hair
conditioner, must scan the QR codes displayed on the shelf to order
them for home delivery on Amazon's U.K. website.
Amazon in a statement said the space was designed as an
experiential venue where it will showcase new products and
technology. The company hopes to offer customers a new experience
that will also benefit the wider salon industry, an Amazon
spokeswoman said when asked about the site's broader business
Amazon made its name and money in e-commerce, digital
subscriptions and other web services, but has in recent years
entered physical retail in ways small and large. After opening
kiosks in shopping malls to sell devices and Amazon-branded
accessories and apparel, the company opened its first bookstore in
Seattle in 2015. In 2017 it bought upmarket grocery chain Whole
Foods for $13.7 billion and went on to open a number of stores to
showcase its cashierless Just Walk Out technology, including Go and
Go Grocery. It also operates stores that only sell goods with
four-star-and-above ratings on its e-commerce marketplace
The opening of Amazon Salon reiterates the company's interest in
retail and may reflect its ambitions in markets that combine both
goods and services, said Jason Goldberg, chief commerce strategy
officer at marketing and communications company Publicis Groupe SA.
The technology giant already operates Amazon Home Services, which
allows customers in some cities to hire external contractors for
odd jobs such as furniture assembly.
But service-heavy businesses don't tend to scale as well as
those in the technology sector, given their reliance on labor, Mr.
"So my immediate knee-jerk reaction is that the professional
services aspect is kind of a necessary evil for them, and that
they're doing this to establish some credibility and a foothold" in
the professional beauty space, he said. "But Amazon has surprised
us before, and I certainly wouldn't take it to the bank that they
don't have aspirations to make money on this."
The salon's opening follows the introduction of a professional
beauty section on Amazon's U.K. website, which offers local hair
and beauty businesses supplies for spas and salons. Amazon Salon
services will be provided by Elena Lavagni, owner of Neville Hair
& Beauty, an independent salon based in London.
John Boumphrey, Amazon's U.K. country manager, said in a
statement that Amazon wants the new space to be a place "where we
can collaborate with the industry and test new technologies."
The salon may also be designed as a showroom for such
innovations: The company began licensing its Just Walk Out
technology to other retailers after proving it worked in its own
stores, and could do the same with innovations such as the point
and learn experience, Mr. Goldberg said.
Amazon Salon is currently open to Amazon employees only. The
general public will be able to sign up for appointments in the
coming weeks, the company said, adding that it has no current plans
to open further salon locations.
Write to Katie Deighton at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 20, 2021 18:39 ET (22:39 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.