Amazon to Open London Hair Salon: Another Step Toward Dominating Retail

Andrew M. Santos

If it seems like Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has its hands in just about every industry these days, it’s because the online retail giant has made a huge effort to expand into different sectors of the market. Not only did it recently launch an online pharmacy service, but it’s been steadily expanding into the grocery space with its Amazon Fresh supermarkets. And now, the retailer is doing something completely different: It’s opening its first beauty salon.

A foray into beauty and personal care

Amazon has announced that it will be opening its first hair salon in East London. The facility will be spread over two floors in Spitalfields, a trendy district, and its location will be less than a five-minute walk from Amazon’s United Kingdom headquarters. The salon will be open seven days a week and will initially only be accessible to Amazon employees. However, bookings will open up to nonemployees shortly after the salon’s launch.

After a year of hunkering down at home due to the pandemic, many people are eager to get back to salons and refresh their style. Plus, workers are increasingly being called back to the office, which means many are eager to update their look, so the timing of Amazon’s new venture couldn’t be better.

But not surprisingly, Amazon intends to employ its share of technology in its new digs. Augmented reality technology will allow customers to see what they might look like with a new hair color or style. And “point-and-learn” technology will allow visitors to the salon to point to different products and access information about them on a display screen.

Will Amazon’s salon kill off local businesses?

Any time Amazon enters the fold in a new industry, the same concern emerges — will the online giant take out local businesses in the process of expanding? Right now, there’s no reason to think that Amazon’s single new salon will cause nearby salons to shutter. But if Amazon continues its expansion in that arena, local businesses could feel the impact.

Of course, if that were to happen, it wouldn’t necessarily impact commercial landlords all that much. After all, if long-standing salons close due to an uptick in competition, Amazon might replace them as a tenant, so from a real estate perspective, investors are largely looking at breaking even.

Since introducing itself as an online bookstore back in 1994, Amazon has managed to branch out into a wide range of industries, so its expansion into salons isn’t particularly shocking. Whether its tech-centric setup will appeal to customers in search of pampering is yet to be determined, but there’s a good chance its technology will give it an edge over competing salons.

That said, if there’s one thing established salons have going for them, it’s customer loyalty. It’s common practice for customers to find a salon, or even a specific stylist, they like and keep going back for the consistency factor. It’ll be hard for Amazon to break through that barrier, even with the promise of cutting-edge technology that helps customers imagine themselves in a whole new light.

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