Amazon launches hair salon to test AR, point-and-learn tech

Dive Brief:

  • Amazon’s latest venture in the service space will be in hair care. The e-commerce giant launched its first salon in London’s Spitalfields district, the company announced on Tuesday. The company said it has no plans to open more Amazon Salon locations at this point.
  • It will use the two-floor, 1,500-square-foot store to trial a range of technologies such as point-and-learn tools and augmented reality hair consultations. Amazon Salon will also serve professionals looking to access Amazon’s salon and spa assortment, with perks including wholesale pricing and invoicing, no minimum order value and fast deliveries, per the announcement.
  • Elena Lavagni, owner of the Neville Hair & Beauty salon in London, will provide Amazon Salon’s hairstyling services, the company said. The salon is currently only open to employees, but the company will open it to the public in the next few weeks.

Dive Insight:

Cosmetic companies have been experimenting with beauty try-on technology since long before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted in-store shopping, but retailers have increasingly relied on these tools to serve customers safely during the health crisis.

Sally Beauty rolled out its ColorView AI technology to hundreds of stores in the months before the COVID-19 pandemic forced nonessential in-store shopping to come to a halt. Perfect Corp., a leader in the AR beauty space, unveiled virtual makeup testing features in the midst of the pandemic last year, and added virtual try-on stations in Whole Foods in March.

At Amazon’s salon, AR will be used for customers to try on different hair colors and carry out consultations. But tech is also embedded in other areas of the salon. Using point-and-learn technology, customers can point at a product and view brand videos, educational content and other relevant information on display screens. If customers want to purchase the product they’ve pointed to, they can scan the corresponding QR code to view more product details on Amazon’s website and purchase the item, according to the announcement.

“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’s U.K. country manager, said in a statement. “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 is not the only one experimenting with in-store tech tools that share product information with shoppers. In early March 2020, Diane Von Furstenberg teamed up with Mastercard to develop QR codes that show the origin stories of DVF’s garments, styling recommendations and other product information. Last August, Burberry launched its debut social retail store in Shenzhen, China, which allowed customers to access product information, store tours, in-store appointment booking and other perks via WeChat.

Amazon noted that its salon will operate with safety measures in mind. The Amazon Salon will provide free face masks and sanitizer as well as implement temperature checks and capacity limits.

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