Is the Amazon Salon a Threat to the Hair Industry as We Know It?

by laurahusband / last updated April 26, 2021

Amazon Salon Hair Industry

There has been lots of discussion within the hair industry about the announcement that Amazon has opened an Amazon salon in London’s Spitalfields.

HJ announced the news by sharing exclusive interviews with both Elena Lavagni and Amazon to find out more about the new opening. 

Kate Woods, digital marketing expert to the hairdressing industry takes an objective look at what the Amazon Salon actually means to the hair industry and hair salons.

Is the Amazon Salon a threat to the hair industry and your salon business?

The good news: the Amazon Salon isn’t the threat to the hair industry you might think it is.

These are emotionally charged times and it is easy to understand why hair professionals who have just spent seven of the last 12 months away from the salon feel threatened by the announcement.

I think it might be time to replace the emotional response with a pragmatic one and let’s look at the facts. Because this bold move tells us that the most successful business of our time, owned by the world’s richest man, has noticed that there is a gap in the market, or at least an opportunity in the hairdressing industry and that can’t be all bad news.

So, let’s start by looking at what we know about the new salon. What’s new and what can we learn from it?

1. The salon, in Spitalfields, East London, will have an augmented-reality mirror showing clients different colours and styles before treatments.

Augmented Reality App

Is this so new? In 2018, L’Oreal Professionnel launched the Style My Hair App. A quick Google search shows me 10 other apps that would allow me to do the same thing.

There is nothing to stop any salon in the country from using augmented reality in its consultation process without huge cost implications.

Of course, an augmented reality mirror is an extra step, but I’d expect these to be popping up in your wholesalers or become mainstream in a similar way to salon screens did a few years back.

2. The venue will also have magazines loaded on to tablets for browsing.

Fire Tablet

Many hair salons introduced this post-COVID-19, while lots have been doing it for years. Want to bring them into your salon? You can subscribe to a digital magazines website. 

3. Traditional services including cuts, blow-dries and colour treatments will also be available and it will be staffed by professional hairdressers

The fact that Amazon has hand-picked a team that is well trained and offer exemplary service, speaks volumes. This is the most important part of any professional hair salon that no corporation can automate or compromise on.

Amazon hairdressers

4. Clients will also be able to scan QR codes for hair products and buy them through Amazon.

For me this is the crux of it and there is a positive and a negative.

The positive is that Amazon clearly believe there is an opportunity for them to sell more hair products. That means they don’t think retailing is currently being done as effectively as it could be. So, there is an element of watch and learn.

Interactive products

This should also be a bit of a wake-up call if your retail isn’t bringing you in an income, in which case you should bring in a business coach to help you with that. There are many good ones in the industry – but go for someone who says retail is their speciality.

On the other hand, I don’t believe Amazon is interested in hair salons – they don’t exactly have a track record of investing in people – their business model is about data.  A physical store gives them a real-world opportunity to learn about people’s hair, what products would work best and what products people actually buy. This will enable them to make professional and personalised product recommendations – and possibly product subscription models in the digital space that they are so comfortable in.

5. Amazon Salon has told HJ the venture is ‘experimental’ and it has no current plans to expand into the hair industry

There is nothing in Amazon’s business model to date to suggest that they are a business that is interested in physical premises and the development of people. This is the company that has been trialling deliveries by drones and accused of not allowing its staff to have toilet breaks! That said, if they can’t generate enough learnings – or diverse enough data from a single salon, the logical next step would be to open another salon.

So, what should you do?

  • Don’t panic. This is another brand opening a salon that is no threat to your business.
  • Focus on what you do. Should you be updating your client experience to make it more current?
  • Look at your retail experience. Do you need to add an online store or deliveries or introduce a product subscription model?
  • Book an appointment. Obviously this isn’t practical for everyone but if you can this is a great opportunity for you to watch and learn.

Kate Woods is the owner of Salondipity. You can download her salon owner’s guide to setting up an online store here 

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