Letters & Opinion

Welcoming the Aisle24 grocery market to Rideau Street


Varsha Dinodia

Aisle24 Market inaugurated its second location in Ottawa at 256 Rideau Street in Sandy Hill on September 16. “Conveniently Smart and Conveniently Simple,” as the business promotes itself, Aisle24 is a self-serve and cashierless supermarket that runs on automation and smart shopping.

With news of multiple closures of businesses and stores in the neighbourhood in the post-pandemic era, this, in my view, is welcome news and a change for Sandy Hill residents and shoppers.

The modus operandi behind this convenient store is to follow four steps: download the store app, select the items for purchase, scan, and pay. As Sandy Hill is inhabited by many students from uOttawa, the store is expected to be a huge success and popular amongst the youth and student crowd.

The unique selling point of being fully automated allows the store to remain open 24 hours, seven days a week. Founded in 2015, Aisle24 opened its first cashierless grocery store in Canada in a student residence building in Toronto back in 2016. Aisle 24 now has more than 16 locations just in Ontario and Quebec; the business is expected to expand into other provinces.

The Covid-19 pandemic taught us to adopt and implement new technology, like MS Teams and Zoom. The success and expansion of Aisle24 is a welcome development.

The store at 256 Rideau, despite being small in size, carries an extensive selection of grocery items catering to most dietary requirements.  One wonders if the store is more resilient when it comes to the rising retail theft and shoplifting crime in the area.

Adopting these technologically innovative grocery stores may present a challenge to some clients. We therefore need stores such as Loblaws, Farm Boy, Metro and others in the grocery chain market, places where one can still seek personal assistance, return items, and complain if not satisfied with products and services.   To be sure, there is not a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to retail.  Nevertheless, we can learn to adapt to change and innovation. Sandy Hill is fortunate to have this innovative store.

Aisle24 store at 256 Rideau Street on opening day
Photo: Varsha Dinodia