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Once I came upon Amazon was opening a hair salon close to my residence in east London, I instantly suspected some nefarious intent.
Was Jeff Bezos reselling the chopped locks as wigs on Amazon? Or distilling Remy human hair into some type of demonic life extension remedy?
I made a decision to analyze.
Amazon describes the salon as “an experiential venue the place we showcase new merchandise and know-how.” It opened in April, initially to Amazon workers solely, however now additionally affords cuts to most people.
Notably, there’s no on-line reserving system. As an alternative, it’s important to make a reservation through e-mail or phone. It’s certainly one of a number of hints that the enterprise isn’t at the moment targeted on income technology.
One other is the pricing. It’s dearer than the £0 I often pay for a lower (shout out London Faculty of Barbering), however the charges are fairly affordable for an upmarket salon in east London.
Nonetheless, the worth factors and high-tech charms don’t appear to have generated substantial footfall but. There have been quite a few appointments obtainable on the afternoon I wished. I booked one for 2PM on a Tuesday.
Getting the chop
I arrive on a sometimes wet summer season’s day in London. I’m warmly greeted by one of many coiffeurs, who ushers me in direction of the salon chair.
Amazella* (*title modified
as a result of I forgot her actual one to guard her id) invitations me to make use of the station’s Fireplace pill and wi-fi charger whereas she brings me my first-ever can of nonetheless water. Is there nothing Bezos can’t innovate?
Whereas she’s away, I surreptitiously scan the salon for urine bottles and slave laborers — however Amazella returns earlier than I discover the proof.
I did, nevertheless, uncover some uncommon objects for a salon: AR mirrors for testing how totally different hair dyes would possibly look on you; cabinets of magnificence merchandise fitted with QR codes for point-and-click procuring; and an worker commanding Alexa to play “solely comfortable music.”
However none of this tech alleviates Amazella’s struggles to chop round my face masking: what the salon actually wants are strapless masks that don’t encumber hairdressers. You possibly can have that sensible thought without cost, Mr Bozo.
Whereas Amazella works her magic, I attempt to get some secrets and techniques out of her concerning the operation. She’s reticent concerning the tech, however says she enjoys working on the salon and the “optimistic” perspective of her colleagues.
They do all appear very jovial and relaxed — maybe as a result of there are hardly any prospects for them to cope with.
This provides to my suspicion that Amazon isn’t overly involved about footfall on the salon. But when money and shoppers aren’t the precedence, then what precisely is the purpose?
In accordance with Amazon, the salon is “designed to assist the skilled magnificence trade,” a rising enterprise space for the corporate, which additionally just lately launched the Amazon Skilled Magnificence Retailer. The parlor offers the e-commerce big a spot to check new tech — and promote extra magnificence merchandise.
As for the haircut, I’m fairly pleased with the outcomes. However I’ll allow you to decide them for your self:
Amazon says it at the moment has no plans to open different salons. But when the idea really takes off, it wouldn’t shock to see excessive road hairdressing change into yet one more trade that Amazon tries to gobble up.