If you saw the flying cameras and sensor tracking, you’d think it was a science fiction movie — a dystopian view of a world where privacy is diminishing. But all of those things are accessible, thanks to Amazon.
While Amazon has already enveloped the sectors of online shopping, personal devices and streaming, there’s one huge part of citizens’ lives they haven’t fully taken over: physical stores.
However, that’s changing. With Amazon Go stores expanding and the introduction of Amazon Salon, Amazon is showing it can build physical stores that consumers will want to visit.
If you haven’t heard of them before, Amazon Go stores are brick-and-mortar grocery locations where you can walk in, grab what you want and walk out — no checking out or cashiers. Instead, the store knows who is picking up which product, and automatically charges your Amazon account as you leave the store.
Having been to an Amazon Go store near the Amazon headquarters in Seattle, I can tell you that while the idea sounds crazy, it works and it works well.
The experience is pretty much exactly as advertised: walk in, grab your stuff and walk out. The only blemish on the experience is if you look up, the ceiling is packed with sensors capturing everything and it can feel a little frightening to know that everything is being watched.
But at the end of the day, the experience is better than a traditional grocery store. If you could walk into a fully stocked grocery store and just walk out with your purchase — no lines, no checking out — then everyone would go to that store.
It’s this advantage that poses such a threat to retail stores, which have already felt the impacts of e-commerce. While big corporations such as Walmart and Target are able to stay afloat, smaller stores have gone out of business. Now with the arrival of the Amazon Salon, the threat of Amazon stores to other areas of business are more apparent.
The services at the Amazon Salon, which is coming to London, will be provided by Elena Lavagni, owner of Neville Hair & Beauty Salon, and although there aren’t plans to expand this to a larger presence, it is a remarkable example of how Amazon’s established technology can enhance a store experience.
Going beyond hairstyling, the salon provides augmented reality technology to preview your haircut, Fire Tablets to watch content and other gimmicks to make the experience more high-end. Amazon’s immense resources and existing technology enables this experience.
The Amazon website has over 2 billion visits per month in the U.S. alone, according to Statista. The site tracks purchase history, lifestyle choices and even your biometrics. With this much personal information already linked to your account, Amazon is uniquely positioned to make the store experience easy and convenient.
So does this mean that Amazon will take over our daily lives? Not quite.
At the moment, it’s clear that Amazon doesn’t want to take over the hair salon market. This store is just a one-off to showcase cool technology. However, it’s a clear sign that Amazon is able to create physical in-store experiences that outrank its competition. Imagine Amazon theaters, restaurants and gyms. These are all hypothetical, but very possible if the company wants to step in that direction. It’s not quite a dystopia where everything and everyone is owned by Amazon, but it is a little frightening.