I let Amazon cut my hair in its debut salon (yes, really)
Amazon certainly has its fingers in many pies – online shopping, logistics (including an air fleet), smart home tech, and even a range of supermarkets. But when we walked past the Amazon Salon by Spitalfields market, there was definitely a double take. Amazon… a salon? We couldn’t believe it either, but yes, Amazon does indeed own a salon.
Naturally, curiosity got the better of us, and we had to pop in to the salon and give it a try. Images of Jeff Bezos with a pair of scissors and bottle of shampoo come to mind, but just how Amazon is the experience? In the name of
science general curiosity, I put my hair on the chopping block to see what it’s all about.
What actually is the Amazon Salon?
The Amazon Salon is exactly what it says on the tin – a beauty salon owned and operated by Amazon. It caters to men, women, and kids, with a variety of different services available. These services range from a simple cut or blow dry, to more complicated restyling or colour dyeing. And to carry all this out? A crack team of hairstyling experts with years and years of experience under their belts.
Located right in the heart of London, just next to Spitalfields Market, the Amazon Salon looks like any other salon you’d find. The brand’s signature smile is plastered around, but beyond that, forget any mental images of big white rooms. This is the only location, opened as an experiment back in 2019. We’re not sure if Amazon plans to open any more, or if the brand decided one was enough. It’s rather refreshing, actually, how Amazon blends tech with traditional talent; but we’ll get to that later.
Everything starts through the Amazon app, of course! Here, you can browse different treatments available, and schedule them like an ordinary appointment. Payment is handled through the app with your existing details, and you’ll even find the treatment appear in your basket (an oddly satisfying moment). There’s even an option to book by specific stylists, just like you’d be able to in a real salon.
With everything booked, it’s time to venture out into the real world (gasp) for the actual appointment. For my appointment, I booked a simple cut with no treatment.
How did the trim go?
Once inside and checked in, I was handed a can of water for the short wait before my appointment started. Just before I started to think too much about the London haircut surcharge I’d forgotten about, it was my turn. Rather than the usual haircut request, I told my stylist to do whatever she pleases with my hair. Bold move, for sure, but how else can we see what the Amazon Salon can do?
The cut itself was a familiar experience, and my very talented stylist pulled out all the stops. Using a mix between scissors and shears, I felt the pounds of hair on my head drop off (funny how Christmas makes your hair grow longer). I was even offered a quick wash and shampoo, which is definitely a cut above your usual barber shop experience.
At the end of the trim, I was really rather pleased with the result. While posting pictures might not do my self-esteem any good, the friend waiting for me outside, and I, all thought the cut was a drastic improvement. And that was it! Time to go on my way. The whole experience took around an hour – so nothing too out of the ordinary.
But where’s the tech, you may ask? Well, the Amazon Salon is surprising light on technology, opting for substance over gimmicks. There are some swanky iPads with AR features to test out new colours or hairstyles before getting in the chair. I’m certain this is a huge help for avoiding some major moments of regret. You’ll also find some rather smart shelves, adorned with QR codes for online payments. But that’s where the high-tech trickery ends.
Is this the future for salons?
With nowhere near as much tech as expected, is this the future for salons? I would argue, yes. Appointment booking through the app makes scheduling a lot easier (despite some not booking the right treatments), and the AR tech can show customers what expert eyes can already foretell. And as a customer, I was equally happy with the technology I had to use.
As we both agreed, we’d rather not give a robot pairs of scissors and free rein at our hair – we like our ears too much for that. Mental pictures of the Ring Always Home drone with a set of shears are enough to put everyone else off as well, I think. After all, hairstyling requires talent and a good eye, which is something robots aren’t ready to tackle any time soon.
Perhaps Amazon has the right idea with its salons of the future. Avoid gimmicks, sprinkle some tech in where it actually helps, and trust the talented experts to carry out the real work.