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Amazon Now Has a Salon - How Will It Impact The Beauty Industry?

June 23, 2021 09:48 AM

"Amazon is leveraging its name-brand recognition to launch a deep data-dive into the beauty sector."

Recent business news stories have released the surprising news that Amazon plans to add a surprising new industry to its portfolio - beauty salons. The first Amazon hair salon opened up in London in April of this year - the company tapped a successful stylist-owner of a nearby location to serve as the artistic and creative director. The 1500 square-feet location will feature Amazon Fire tablets at each station for content streaming, as well as multiple advanced interfaces for product education and retail. VR technology will allow clients to try-on different hairstyles and colors before taking the plunge, and point-and-learn screens will save you the hassle of searching for product information on your smartphone. Interestingly, little attention has been afforded to the quality of the stylists or the workflow of the salon - as a leader in salon + spa virtual reception, we certainly think Amazon has overlooked many opportunities to implement AI and other modern technologies within its service offerings as well as its omni-channel clientele management strategy.

Amazon is no stranger to the professional beauty industry - many amateur cosmetologists take advantage of Amazon's robust beauty catalog prior to obtaining the requisite licensure for professional vendor accounts. The company leveraged this market stream a few years ago when it launched its Wholesale Salon Distribution + Beauty Supply, enabling licensed beauty businesses to obtain professional salon product at wholesale pricing. Why the continued interest in beauty? The money doesn't lie - American beauty retailers have collectively been bringing in $90 billion annually as of late, with the industry expected to see exponential growth into the clean beauty. The beauty service sectors is slated to experience interesting growth trends according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics -  while job prospects are bleak for traditional cosmetologists, specialty personal care providers will experience a wave of opportunity; barbers are expected to see an above-average increase in job openings (7% between 2019 and 2029), while skincare specialists and nail technicians will see growth at 17% and 19% respectively within the same time frame.

Amazon currently doesn't have plans to open up any more salons, so on the surface it appears that this location may serve simply as a marketing ploy - but what ultimately is Amazon's agenda with this newest foray into the beauty industry? Clearly the company doesn't seem to be too interested in salon + spa education and training, and its own press releases did little to hype to talent of its own staff. Read below to hear our thoughts.

Understanding Sales Trends

This location will help Amazon learn what really makes customer tick. Beauty retail requires a tactile experience that is difficult to approximate within an e-commerce format, so Amazon will be able to observe customer movement and activity within its stores (cross-referenced with digital footprints and web/app activity) to better understand what drives sales.

Learning Our Workflow

Amazon likely understands the potential influence of salon + spa professionals, and would presumably love a way to integrate directly with smaller beauty businesses to add a novel revenue stream. Wouldn't Amazon just love to directly fulfill your clients' sales orders? Having its own team of stylists will help the company develop a tech-stack that will have utility to the average stylist (who may not be so tech-savvy).

Developing AR + VR Tech 

More than likely, the primary function of this salon location is simply to fine-tune its AR / VR shopping experience. VR try-on technology is old news at this point, but Amazon undoubtedly has its sights set on the next iteration of high-tech shopping. Perhaps in the not-so-distant future, we might be using our own personal set of Oculus glasses to shop online, while we virtually sample products from the comfort of our beds. 

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