On the scent of fresh data

How do you measure the impact of ambient scents on shopper behaviour? After successful participation in the Kickstart Accelerator 2020 program, livealytics implemented their solution in a PoC ("Proof of Concept") in the SportXX in Bülach, Switzerland, from August 2020 to mid-January 2021.
SportXX Bülach

livealytics, a startup from Zurich, specialises in measuring customer behaviour to create intelligent and user-friendly analysis as a basis for all kinds of live marketing and retail activities.

"We believe that data, not gut feeling, should drive important decisions about offline activities and physical touchpoints."

Migros wanted to measure customer behaviour in the sales area of a SportXX branch to get insights into the impact of different marketing and sales measures. This project required an exact and reliable measurement method and a precise and straightforward analysis to draw immediate conclusions. From the outset, we focused on developing and delivering key indicators that allow meaningful comparisons. For example, the share of store visitors in a particular area. Rather than absolute visitor numbers, which by themselves lack context.

The Setup

SportXX at the Bülach Center Süd

Our task was to determine the impact of different ambient scents on customers' behaviour. To achieve this, we installed 34 WiFi sensors on an area of 1500m2 and collected and processed over 1.7 billion data points during the five-month PoC. In addition to installing aroma diffusers, Migros conducted various sales promotions and changed its product range. livealytics also measured the effect of these activities and the results were visualised in a custom dashboard.

For data validation, we installed a camera at the store entrance and recorded the total number of visitors over the period of the PoC. We were able to demonstrate a very high correlation between the data collected by the WiFi sensors and the camera. However, WiFi sensors offer specific advantages over other people counting solutions:

  • They work indoors, outdoors and in all lighting conditions.
  • The sensors have an extensive detection range (± 50 m)
  • The measurement allows the collection of net visitor numbers and return rates
  • WiFi sensors can be deployed quickly and do not require great infrastructure investments

Results of the analysis

The analysis used conversion rates such as "engagement", "interaction rate", and "bounce rate", as well as average dwell times. By comparing these key indicators with historical data and measurements from other sales areas, we were able to assess the effectiveness of different retail marketing activities.

Conversion rates for retail analytics

The evaluation of the eight test cases during the PoC showed, among other things, that:

  • Of the four scents tested, only one had a significant positive effect;
  • SportXX was able to positively influence customer flow by placing a sales promotion in a product range;
  • Repositioning the products on display in a store area did not trigger significant customer behaviour change.

"It's like you've climbed the Matterhorn! There is nothing else quite like this in the entire market," said Jürg Wild, Head of Digital at Migros.


Crucial to visitor frequency measurement is developing an understanding of key performance indicators. A useful dashboard focuses on precisely these factors - absolute visitor numbers are a red herring. Various technologies are available for collecting data. But the WiFi measurement approach stands out for its simplicity and versatility. In particular, the PoC successfully demonstrated the feasibility and advantages of using WiFi sensors for data collection and data-driven decision making in retail environments.

To find out more about what footfall analytics is and what its benefits are, have a look at our blog post: Understanding footfall analytics?

For more information, visit our website or arrange a call with one of our experts to determine how you can implement performance measurement and A/B testing for your live marketing and retail activities.