Published on 18.07.2022


Interview with Omar Tello, CEO of the adult start-up sensalytics and partner of POP KUDAMM about data, tracking and the smart city of tomorrow.

Digitalisation has made enormous leaps in recent years and is increasingly playing an essential role in the design and use of urban spaces. The basis for this is above all data – and in particular increasingly also real-time data – with which movement flows can be measured, optimisation potential in planning processes can be identified and new worlds of experience can be created derived from this. Experiences that affect both stationary retail spaces and the central squares and streets of a city like Berlin.

As a data-driven expert and innovation driver in the truest sense of the word, sensalytics is at the forefront of these transformational developments. The grown-up start-up from Stuttgart specialises in real-life tracking and, with its know-how and cross-sector analytics system, is involved in flagship projects such as The Latest in Berlin and Vaund in Stuttgart, as well as in our POP KUDAMM since April.

In this interview with Omar Tello, CEO of sensalytics, we talk about “tracking for the real world” and look at the potential benefits and new experience possibilities that can arise from data. For owners of stationary shops as well as for planners and designers of urban spaces.

Pop Kudamm:sensalytics has been a partner of POP KUDAMM since the very beginning. Where do people know sensalytics from and how would you explain what you do - in a nutshell - to someone who has never heard of you?
Omar Tello:At sensalytics, we like to compare ourselves with Google Analytics, the common tool for tracking websites. "In a nutshell, we use 3D sensor technology to track the movements of people on a surface, e.g. in retail, but also at events and trade fairs, at airports, etc. The resulting information can then be used both strategically and operationally, for example to inform staff about increased visitor numbers. The information gathered from this can then be used both strategically and operationally, for example to inform staff about an increased number of visitors or to call advisors to the area.

Our biggest and best-known customer is certainly ALDI SÜD, for whom we developed a digital access control system at the beginning of the first Corona wave. This relieved the security staff and was able to count the visitors in the shops with high precision. If there were too many people in the shop, the entrance doors were closed automatically so that hygiene measures could always be observed.
Pop Kudamm:Where did the idea of founding sensalytics come from and what vision drives you as a start-up?
Omar Tello:My co-founder Dominik Laubach and I met in 2014 as part of a joint project and shared both a passion for e-commerce and for stationary retail with its very own advantages. Both of us were already working in the field of data analytics and had also had our first experiences with tracking in physical spaces (at that time in bars and parties). We thought "analytics software must also be available for brick-and-mortar retail and not only for e-commerce", and developed sensalytics. We wanted to combine the best of both worlds and thus strengthen retailers. In 2015, we founded sensalytics.

Our vision is to optimise the use of commercially used spaces, both for the benefit of those in charge and for the people who enter the spaces. sensalytics should be the tool of choice to bring retail into the data-driven world of tomorrow.

Unsere Vision ist es, kommerziell genutzte Flächen in ihrer Nutzung zu optimieren, sowohl zum Vorteil von Verantwortlichen wie auch für die Menschen, die die Flächen betreten. sensalytics soll das Tool der Wahl sein, um den Handel in die datengetriebene Welt von Morgen zu überführen.

We wanted and wanted to combine the best
of both worlds.

Pop Kudamm:Your mission statement is "Tracking for the real world". What exactly do you track? And what does "real world" mean?
Omar Tello:We track all movements of people in commercially used areas, for example in retail, but also at airports, at trade fairs, in stadiums and everywhere where people move and stay in public and semi-public spaces. With visitor flow analysis, various parameters can be tracked, first and foremost, of course, the number of people in an area, but also the movement routines of individual people or the length of time spent in a particular place. What we explicitly do not track is personal data such as age or faces - data protection is very important to us in our work.

The slogan "Tracking for the real world" comes from the comparison with e-commerce, where tracking is common practice. By real world, we mean places where people actually move from A to B and spend time.
Pop Kudamm:What are the benefits of tracking in the real world?
Omar Tello:It always depends on what kind of area it is, tracking in a supermarket has different benefits than at trade fairs, etc. What unites them all is that the analysed data provides a sound basis for strategic and operational process optimisation. In retail, in stadiums or at the airport, for example, waiting times can be demonstrably reduced. At trade fairs, capacity utilisation can not only be felt, but also analysed; and cleaning staff can be better deployed, which increases visitor satisfaction enormously. In short, tracking in the real world opens a "black box" that was previously closed and thus helps to gain a better understanding and make optimisations.
Pop Kudamm:How does the combination of frequency measurement and turnover measurement work?
Omar Tello:We can classify visitors according to employees, browseers and customers (actual buyers) and thus relate the number of actual purchases made to the frequency, i.e. the total number of clientele on day X. With a sales sensor, we can also pick up and analyse sales as well as product and goods groups directly at the point of sale. The advantage for salespeople is that no intervention in the POS system is necessary, so there is no interruption to the buying process. This sensor sits between the POS system and the printer and processes the information from the receipt parallel to printing. After automatic processing by sensalytics, the data is immediately available for analysis.
Pop Kudamm:Tracking and data analysis have a lot to do with values and trust. What core values does sensalytics stand for when it comes to data?
Omar Tello:Data is a real treasure. And as with any treasure, it is important to protect it from falling into the wrong hands. That's why data protection is enormously important to us. We work closely with e-privacy, who confirm that our work is DSGVO-compliant. In addition, the measured data always belongs to the customer and not to sensalytics - so it is never used for advertising purposes (unless the customer explicitly allows it).

Furthermore, we do not track any personal data, i.e. not "Mr. Müller" or "Ms. Schneider", but "Person X and "Person Y". In this way, we ensure that no individuals are tracked, but only the movement sequences of the persons. We cannot and do not want to track who is behind the moving point on the heat map at any time.

Our big vision is to help the brick-and-mortar retail trade
to new “old” strength.

Pop Kudamm:POP KUDAMM is all about the perception of urban spaces and their developments. This also includes stationary retail, which makes Ku'damm one of the most popular and best-known shopping boulevards in Europe. Your work is closely linked to stationary retail in particular. How can the stationary trade benefit from solutions "powered by sensalytics"?
Omar Tello:Our big vision is to help brick-and-mortar retail to regain its "old" strength in order to continue to inspire customers and attract them to the shops in the future. For this to succeed, retailers must no longer rely solely on their gut feeling, but should use the technical possibilities of visitor flow analysis to learn more about their clientele. Our firm conviction is: only those who know their customers can make them the best offer. Optimised spaces and optimised service lead to an enhanced customer journey, which in turn is reflected in measurably higher sales - a win-win situation for everyone!
Pop Kudamm:Your technology is used at POP KUDAMM. With which features do you participate here with us?
Omar Tello:A meeting place like POP KUDAMM is of course particularly exciting for us. It corresponds to our idea that modern stationary retail is no longer the sole main attraction of the city centres of the future. The smart city of tomorrow brings together different areas of social life, e.g. technology, art, culture - and also the shopping experience.

At POP KUDAMM, we have installed a sensor in the large main hall that measures the frequencies of the people who spend time there. In the back area, on the terrace, the technology is used as access control to ensure that no more than the permitted number of people are there. If this is the case, security is immediately informed to ensure the safety of all guests. We have also fully equipped two of the front containers with sensor technology. In addition, we measure the passers-by in front of the actual area to determine the frequency of passers-by in relation to the actual number of visitors.
Pop Kudamm:And from your point of view, are there also benefits for us who shop and stroll on Ku'damm? In other words, can tracking also change our shopping experiences?
Omar Tello:Absolutely! I understand the astonishment or fear of many people when they are told where they are already being tracked everywhere in the real world. No one wants to be permanently monitored, either online or in public. That's why it's very important to me to clearly highlight the benefits of tracking for consumers. Because it's not all bad as long as you comply with data protection regulations.

Our tracking primarily serves to optimise the customer journey, i.e. the customer's shopping experience. Retailers who know their customers better can also tailor their service accordingly and, for example, provide better advice or position their products better. In practical terms, our tracking can, for example, reduce waiting times at the checkout many times over, which of course benefits the customer.

By the way, shopping experience is exactly the right keyword, because in the future it will no longer be about stationary shopping, but rather about being sprinkled with new, interesting products, browsing and receiving professional advice. If I know exactly what I'm looking for and need, the trip to the online shop will be shorter and more pleasant. In future, it will no longer matter where you buy, but the question must be: Where and in what way do I inspire potential customers with my product?

The smart city of tomorrow brings together different areas
of social life together.

Pop Kudamm:When it comes to urban planning, to what extent do start-ups like you play a role and have data at hand? Or to put it another way: when it comes to planning new streets and squares, do urban planners draw on your expertise?
Omar Tello:Of course, data analysis can help optimise spaces. It is one of many building blocks and pieces of information that urban planners need to consider when organising public spaces. However, we have not yet worked with urban planners, but we would like them to recognise the potential of data analytics. Places are being designed more and more flexibly to respond to new development. This is exactly where our collected data can help to recognise the changing use of squares and public spaces more quickly and to improve the quality of stay through optimisations.
Pop Kudamm:What are your next projects and what are your plans for the future?
Omar Tello:We are constantly optimising our product and fine-tuning new ways to further develop our tracking. There are some new promising projects in the pipeline that we can't report on yet. But I can already say one thing: we will build the bridge between online and offline.

In the future, we will open up other sectors in addition to our core sectors, food and non-food retail. Our product is not tied to any specific industry, but can in principle be used wherever people are in public or commercially used spaces. In any case, we won't get bored, we can promise you that.


More about sensalytics and its digital solutions at:

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