For a long time, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has been saying the company has a simple criterion for opening new categories of physical retail stores: Can it significantly improve on the traditional store experience? With its Amazon Go chain, for example, it used sensors, cameras and software to get rid of cashier checkout lines.
I had this in my head when I arrived at Amazon’s first-ever hair salon this week in the gentrified Spitalfields shopping area in East London, not far from where I live. I was excited. How was Amazon, the world-beating pioneer of retail and technology, planning to upend the global hairstyling industry?