LONDON — Amazon announced Tuesday that it is planning to open its first-ever hair salon in East London as the e-commerce giant continues to explore new lines of business and promote some of the items it sells on its platform.

The Amazon Salon, described in a blog post, will be spread over two floors of a building in Spitalfields, a trendy district near the City of London known for its shopping and restaurants. It will be open seven days a week.

The 1,500 square foot space — less than a five-minute walk from Amazon’s U.K. headquarters, which has enough space for around 5,000 people— will initially only be open to Amazon employees. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon.

The launch of the salon comes as many people in the U.K. are struggling to book appointments for haircuts as a result of a backlog that has been caused by the country’s coronavirus lockdown. “At the moment Londoners will take any appointment they can get,” said London-based venture capitalist Simon Menashy.

Amazon, which is yet to release a price list, said it will use the Amazon Salon to try a number of new technologies. It gave industry publication Retail Week a preview ahead of the official announcement.

Augmented reality hair colors

Augmented reality technology will allow customers to see what they look like with different colored hair, for example.

Elsewhere, new “point-and-learn” technology will allow customers to point at a product in the salon and view information on a display screen. If they wish to order the item then they can scan a QR code that will take them to a product page on Amazon.co.uk.

Amazon said it will also give customers one of its Fire tablets to use during their appointment.

“We have designed this salon for customers to come and experience some of the best technology, hair care products and stylists in the industry,” said John Boumphrey, U.K. country manager at Amazon, 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.”

In order to comply with the U.K.’s ongoing coronavirus regulations, Amazon is planning to use separation screens between styling stations. Customers will also be offered a free face mask and sanitizer, and temperature checks will be carried out.

The Seattle tech giant said Elena Lavagni, who owns the Neville Hair & Beauty salon in London, will provide its customers with hair care and styling services.

“I am delighted to be part of this project — the salon combines classic hairdressing services with technology to deliver a completely unique experience for clients,” said Lavagni in a statement.

“Our creative team of stylists, whose flair for hair is as intrinsic as their love for technology, will put the client at the heart of everything they do,” she added. “I feel proud to use our 40 years’ experience in the industry to help bring this salon to life.”

Amazon Salon
Amazon Salon
Source: Amazon

Monopoly issue?

There are currently no plans to open any other Amazon Salons beyond the one in London, Amazon said.

Since launching as an online book store in 1994, Amazon has branched out into a number of industries. Today, it operates businesses in cloud computing, music streaming, video streaming, gaming, grocery shopping and more.

William Tunstall-Pedoe, an entrepreneur who sold his artificial intelligence start-up to Amazon, wrote on Twitter: “I’m beginning to believe there’s no business Amazon will not enter.”

Like Google, the company has been accused of becoming a monopoly and killing off businesses that have been around for decades.

Elsewhere in London, Amazon has opened three cashless Amazon Fresh grocery stores, with the first of those opening in the West London borough of Ealing last month.