Technology is at the heart of the decision-making process when it comes to embarking on a new ‘do, with the hairdresser’s knowledge and expertise one-upped by augmented reality (AR) consultations that allow customers to try on virtual hair colours.
The salon also features point-and-learn technology, through which customers can discover more about a product by simply pointing at it on the shelf prompting information and brand videos to appear on the screen in front of them. Should they wish to order products, customers scan the relevant QR code to visit the product page on the Amazon website where they can make the purchase and direct delivery to their home.
“We have designed this salon for customers to come and experience some of the best technology, hair care products and stylists in the industry,” John Boumphrey, Amazon UK country manager, said in an Amazon blog post about the opening.
“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.”
Amazon’s Fire tablets are also on hand to pass the time in the styling chair and there’s even a dedicated creative space for customers to snap the result.
Driven by data
Brian Walker, founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, said Amazon has the ability to be “anything they want to be” in terms of the consumer offer and expects the salon to be very popular.
“They’re leaders in artificial intelligence (AI), they’re actively recording, listening, predicting our trends or patterns … They have the ability to provide a seamless service … having that omnipotent reach. In terms of the data and integration, they’ll be streets ahead,” he said.
“Many of these customers will have Alexa and AI devices at home and they’ll certainly be getting more messages and prompts from Amazon than they would from their local hairdresser. This whole ‘gated community’ is a huge component of it.”
Pascal Martin, partner at OC&C Strategy Consultants, said “it’s all about consumer data”.
“Salons are a place of experimentation and advice given to consumers about beauty.
All of this was happening between hairdressers and their customers,” he said.
“What matters is that customer information will be captured at the source, through the digital interactions enabling virtual experimentation and product browsing before deciding the color, the look and style that they wish to have their hairdresser apply. In the old world, all this information stayed with the hairdresser.”
Martin said Amazon can use this information to acquire customers, communicate with them and cater to all their beauty needs through the Amazon store.
“This is likely to be executed at a relatively modest cost compared to massive marketing budgets spent by brands to acquire new customers. If done well, this could be quite disruptive and put Amazon in a driver seat for beauty distribution,” he said.
Amazon claims the salon will be a “support” to the professional beauty industry rather than a competitor. Having recently launched the Amazon Professional Beauty Store on the UK site, the business is serving up 10,000+ products to hair and beauty businesses across the country. The Amazon Salon builds on this by offering professional customers benefits such as wholesale pricing, invoicing and no minimum order value.
“Hairdressers are a key target of beauty brands’ business and marketing efforts,” Martin said pointing to L’Oreal’s dedicated salon channel, Professional Products.
“The salon is also a small retail venue enabling salon chains to complement their service revenue with sales of hair treatment and other beauty products, but in a small and often clumsy way.”
Walker expects to see much more experiential retail offerings from Amazon in the future.
“I think it’ll be synonymous with category and range extensions and launches. Over time, we will see a lot more of this because the central lubricant is data. That’s ultimately Amazon’s game – the marriage of retail, media and technology,” he said.
The Amazon Salon will initially open exclusively to Amazon employees, but will open up to the public in the coming weeks. The tech giant said there are no current plans for any other locations.