Would you go to an Amazon hair salon?

Layla Maghribi reports on the shopping company's latest venture to see whether 'smart' salons are the future

A look inside London’s new Amazon Salon

A look inside London’s new Amazon Salon
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Before I sat in the stylist's chair at Amazon's new hair salon my tresses had only been seen to twice by a professional in the previous 18 months. This hiatus led to a huge growth spurt but a lack of maintenance meant it invariably ended up in a scruffy pineapple bun on top my head.

A technology-focused brand synonymous with instant clicking and rapid delivery was not where I thought I would go when the time came but novelty, narcissism and the delight of an offline assignment ushered me enthusiastically to Spitalfields in east London.

Thankfully, I wasn’t met with a robot-stylist wielding a pair of digitally enhanced scissors but the very personable and professional stylist Kelly, who you can watch giving me a much-welcomed makeover.

Not content with dominating the online sales market, Amazon's first – and only – gadget-filled hair salon in London is a somewhat bizarre departure from its core business.

Nevertheless, months after it launched Amazon Fresh, a till-less supermarket, the retail company has brought its love of tech to the tresses of men and women in the UK capital.

Set over two floors, the sleek salon in the Liverpool Street commercial district is trialling the latest industry technology, from augmented reality hair consultations to point-and-learn technology.

“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,” said John Boumphrey, Amazon's UK country manager.

Haircare bottles are placed above sensors that reveal product information on a mounted screen when a hand passes over them. Clients can scan QR codes that will take them to the Amazon website where they can buy whatever the stylist recommends, to be delivered directly to their home.

The Amazon Salon in east London, where augmented reality hair consultations are available. Photo: Amazon
The Amazon Salon in east London, where augmented reality hair consultations are available. Photo: Amazon

Amazon has partnered with hair stylist Elena Lavagni, founder of high-end, Belgravia-based Neville Hair & Beauty to deliver the service, which includes a snip using 180-degree blades, a liquid-gold protein treatment and a high-tech conditioning treatment called the steam wash.

For those seeking a more drastic change, gone are the old display books featuring differently coloured hair samples. The salon’s augmented reality colour station lets clients see what their locks would look like in an eclectic range of shades.

Every styling area has a wireless charging dock and a digital tablet stocked with the latest magazine issues, an environmentally friendly way for clients to immerse in the latest trends and stories while they’re being pampered.

Amazon says the salon has been busy since it opened its doors in May but it doesn’t plan to open another. The company calls the Spitalfields venture "an experiential venue" where it shows off new products and the latest industry technology. It certainly modernises the pampering process and if Amazon doesn't open more, it will be up to other industry leaders to take smart salons forward.