Aisle 24, a fully-automated, 24/7 cashier-less grocery chain based in Toronto, has opened its newest location in Toronto, featuring a sophisticated, integrated security solution to safeguard customers and enable franchise owners to manage their operations remotely.
The new system includes surveillance coverage, custom access control, remote control, and analytics designed to assist staff in inventory management and other business operations and it will help power the company’s expansion plans in Canada.
“These are hyper-urban grocery stores, and—given today’s busy lifestyle—people appreciate having this kind of safe and secure convenience in their neighbourhood or right in the building where they live,” said John Douang, co-founder and CEO of Aisle 24. “By emphasizing safety and security while accumulating business intelligence, we’re offering franchise owners the ability to monetize empty space and build a profitable business that places far fewer demands on their time than running a traditional grocery store.”
Currently, Aisle 24 has 16 locations in Ontario and Quebec, with plans to launch at least 40 more stores in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Halifax by the end of the year. In the future, Aisle 24 plans to continue expanding its 24/7, cashier-less grocery stores across Canada, as well as the United States, South America, and parts of Europe and Asia.
“We partnered with Axis in early 2021 for our first community stores. It was very important for us to look for a technology partner that had multiple solutions but also had an open platform for us to customize and integrate with our own systems. We worked with probably two or three other security system manufacturers in the past and found there was always limiting factors which is why we moved to Axis.
“They are the leaders in the industry and they were very helpful at the beginning to really spend a lot of time to understand our business so that they can help provide the best solutions for us.”
Aisle 24 began in 2016 with its first location at Centennial College in Toronto.
“We have several more opening in the next several weeks,” added Duoang. “We have a bunch that are in construction and likely to launch around the September timeframe. We’re pushing for September launches.
“One of the key things for our business is we want to bring the convenience to the customer. So we will always position our stores in a highly dense area that contains a lot of residential. So condos and apartment buildings make a lot of sense for us. We always look at vertical density rather than horizontal density like single-detached homes is not our forte. We like to be somewhere more dense.
“Demographic wise we definitely are targeting the Gen Z and the Millennials but we do see a very broad range of our customer base across all demographics.”
Aisle 24 has partnered with Smart Installs Inc., a Toronto-based customer security solutions provider and Axis Communications integrator partner, for their assistance. Axis provided video surveillance and audio technology, as well as 2N audio/video intercoms – all streaming to an AI-enabled video management system. Together, they created an integrated surveillance solution, customizable access control through a mobile app, and analytics designed to reduce shrink, streamline inventory management, analyze point-of-sale data, and optimize each store’s product mix for maximum sell-through.
Entering an Aisle 24 store is completely touchless. Customers can open the app on their smartphone as they approach the Bluetooth-enabled 2N intercom at the store door, which then displays an UNLOCK message and releases the door. Once inside, they can load their cart and then self-checkout at the register kiosk.
Jason Chiu, Professional Services Group Manager for Canada for Axis, said Axis is a manufacturer of the Internet of Things devices. It began in the security world by making security cameras but it quickly branched out to many other related technologies.
“Aisle 24 is one of those customers that is not only using our devices and our solutions for only security but also for other areas of their business,” said Chiu.
“So basically they’re employing several of our technologies into their stores to help them become unattended and unmanned. We’re protecting their stores from the perspective of security but also a little bit of retail intelligence and basically monitoring what goes on in these stores that are unmanned.”
Chiu said many large retailers use Axis technology.
Keith D’sa, Country Manager, Axis Communications, said integrated solutions is key to providing dynamic levels of safety and security, while bolstering overall business intelligence, as we enter a new era of streamlined retail experiences, investing in state-of-the-art.
“With the confluence of applications and uses that today’s security technology provides, our goal is to keep customers and assets secure, while also allowing Aisle 24 to leverage data to inform day-to-day and long-term business strategies,” he said.
Ken Oki, Managing Director for Smart Installs, said it recommended Axis and 2N technology because they’re built on an open platform, which allows for deep third-party integration.
“That was important for Aisle 24 since it gives them a wider range of options for current and future customization,” he said.
Axis was founded in 1984, and the headquarters are in Lund, Sweden.
“In retail we’re already a very large player when it comes to security but I think what’s exciting for us in the context of Aisle 24 our technology is not only serving up the security and sort of the forensic piece of security after something happens, but they’re actually employing our technology as a key feature in their store to allow it to be cashier less and unmanned,” said Chiu.
“For example, the intercoms that automatically let people in using the app on their phone, our monitoring the inside of the store, how we’re able to use our speakers in the store also to broadcast advertising or music or whatever the case may be. They’re leveraging a lot of the technologies that Axis offers and it’s beyond security.”