Susan O'Neal

CEO, Dabbl
Susan O’Neal is the founder & CEO of Dabbl. Dabbl captures inefficient national media dollars and gives them to consumers to spend in their favorite retailers. After 20+ years in brand strategy & loyalty marketing, O'Neal realized the marketing strategic and tactics she used to create relationships between consumers and companies wouldn't go over very well in the world of real, human relationships - she would have no friends! This inspired her to get curious. What if you could help evolve a consumer relationship the same way, using the same values as our most loyal, trustworthy personal relationships. The result is Dabbl. Since launching its first white-label retail solution with Wakefern in August 2017 ("Downtime Dollars"), and its own consumer-facing app ("Dabbl") in January 2018 - the company has driven over $1MM in value to consumers, and driven $3.5MM in incremental retail sales. O'Neal’s experience in the field of consumer marketing is uniquely suited to this challenge, including consumer research, branding, targeted marketing, promotions, retail loyalty and digital consumer engagement as a Consumer Analyst (Grey Worldwide), B2B Marketer, Business Strategist (Catalina Marketing) and General Manager responsible for the P&L of two different digital coupon destination properties (Q Interactive/Coolsavings, CouponNetwork).
  • Posted on: 02/08/2019

    Will a new rewards program expand Target’s circle of guests?

    Loyalty program isn't the right word for Target Circle in my opinion, nothing about the design reminds me of the price deduction/rat-in-a-maze style of program we're used to seeing. From the way it is presented and its inaugural features, Target Circle is about partnering with Target's guests. Thoughtfully designed, it reflects what Target knows makes it unique and loved by guests that truly love them and honors that - along with taking some of the "best of" from Amazon and Shipt. I'm excited to see how the program continues to evolve.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Shopper technology opportunities are the focus of FMI Midwinter

    Wrong question. The right question is, how can retailers make their customers' lives better by reducing friction in the item demand-satisfaction cycle? It's obvious how digital pure plays do that, but an examination of how digital companies imagine physical stores also illustrates points traditional retailers are scared to consider -- like a store without a checkout process! Checking out being the most obvious point of friction in the in-store experience, followed by things like waiting at the deli counter (order ahead) and other solutions where technology can be intelligently used. Real-time inventory reporting to increase certainty that the item you need will be in-store when you get there (an earlier RetailWire discussion topic) is another. What about making it easier for customers to request or provide continuous and specific feedback on your suppliers, staff and store experience? What about enabling them to request that you carry products you currently do not carry?
  • Posted on: 01/25/2019

    Are NanoStores the new ultra-convenience stores?

    The real question is, what is the purpose and value of a physical presence? Answers to that question vary greatly, and are sincerely in flux as convenience becomes less and less of a factor. As for these NanoStore concepts, I see them as convenient and potentially solving a lot of problems that plague convenience stores such as high employee turnover and theft/slippage. Outside of that use case, and outside of airports (where needs are slightly different), I am not sure I see the value of them.
  • Posted on: 01/24/2019

    Amazon takes multi-pronged approach to owning the last mile

    As I have noted many times on RetailWire, Amazon's mission is to satisfy consumer need/wants better than anyone else. That means Amazon has to do two things increasingly better than anyone else to continue to grow their share of spending:
    1. Amazon must be closest to the consumer at the moment an item is needed or wanted, sometimes even before the consumer is aware of the need (think of the evolution of the "1 click" to "subscribe and save" to "voice ordering").
    2. Amazon must satisfy that consumer's need faster than anyone else. This happens when the item is in the consumer's hand and, in the case of many categories, assembled and usable (which is why Amazon is also contracting entrepreneurs for furniture and electronics installation and assembly, not just delivery).
    Reducing and removing friction in the demand satisfaction cycle is all Amazon cares about, it is the whole of their work -- whether that friction is a minimum order size or item requirement, the order process itself (from "1-Click" to "Subscription") or the limitations of their delivery partners. As long as Amazon continues to solve for consumers needs with their current level of ruthlessness -- they will figure out what works first, and they will win. Other retailers have to be braver than Amazon if they want to capture anything other than impulse and store experience sales.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2018

    Do grocery stores have a customer engagement problem?

    A year ago I, on this panel, I warned that while traditional retailers were competing for "trips," Amazon was competing at the level of item-specific demand, picking items off the traditional grocery store list one by one. Grocers' over-focus on trip frequency, I warned, was leading to a false sense of security. Share of requirements is really the only metric that matters, and if you can't measure it against an accurate "total spend" then just watching the overall spend of your customers will give you a clue. If your weekly spend with a customer is staying the same or increasing, at least you know you're not likely to be losing share to a competitor. So with this in mind -- I have some questions about the study -- hoping someone on the panel has the answers? The study specifically references "trips" -- are those exclusively in-store trips or do they also count curbside pick up and delivery orders? What is concurrently happening to weekly spend -- is it declining proportionally as well? Assuming weekly spend on groceries is staying the same (or increasing), then decreases in weekly spend that take into account all the ways a customer might transact with that retailer definitely represent lost share. If someone created a gain/loss bridge -- on either weekly spend or trips -- to whom are those sales going? Are they simply fragmenting to multiple retailers (specialty or discount) or are they going to Amazon?
  • Posted on: 11/07/2018

    What are the omnichannel challenges facing e-tailers opening stores?

    The physical manifestation of the digital world's idealized retail brands could be an extremely powerful way to extend their reach, share of mind and loyalty. That said, it's also highly risky -- doing it poorly might have a "Wizard of Oz" effect, and bring the whole brand down. My advice -- go and grow slowly at first, make sure the physical manifestation of your brand is evolved from but not exactly like your online brand and once you know it works, hire people who know how to scale it efficiently and consistently.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Gap sends its Visa cardholders to Amazon and Target

    Any time purchase power is increased in one retailer over another, there is disruption. It happened when a retailers started increasing their customer's purchase power by launching store credit cards in the early 1900s. It happened when Walmart increased customer purchase power in their stores with their EDLP strategy. Anything a retailer does that serves to increases their customer's purchase power in a competitor is not good.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2018

    Should the outdoor industry welcome selling on

    Walmart has a significant opportunity to offer overall better terms and solutions to premium brands - not just within outdoor, but across multiple industries. As long as they can provide the traffic to rival Amazon's sales, suppliers who have seen a significant percentage of their volume move to Amazon have a great deal of reason to give Walmart a chance. The better Walmart gets at understanding and catering to small business and brand needs, the faster those premium sellers will move to Walmart and abandon Amazon to bots and resellers.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2018

    Shoppers may finally be using retail apps

    Amazon has helped create the expectation of a quality retail app experience and functionality. Thank you Amazon. Credit to Walgreens for really leaning into their competitive advantage with the prescription management. What the top apps really do well, however, also points to the future -- and that is the app as a means to more holistically manage my relationship with that retailer. From buying products to managing subscriptions (prescriptions), rebates, returns and other means of optimizing purchase power. These things all promote and enable cooperation and co-investment from both parties in the customer/retailer relationship. I hope the coming year also sees more opportunities for retailers to invite brands more efficiently into that symbiotic partnership.
  • Posted on: 08/21/2018

    Do CPGs need their own voice for Alexa?

    The author and the study he references make a good point that audio elements are more important than they used to be given the rise of contexts that don't allow for visual cues to trigger the emotional, perceptual or factual cues created by traditional video and print/display advertising. However, because "voice ordering" presumes a preference already (this is why it's called "voice order" instead of "voice browsing"), it is not nearly enough and could be an expensive distraction from the real urgency of brand marketers. That real urgency is this, to use their advertising budgets (both creative & media) to cultivate *real* relationships, and *verified* brand preference such that their brand preference manifests in the form of a consumer either saying or typing *their preferred branded product name* when they "voice order" or "search" the infinite shelf.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2018

    Three reasons why Gen Z ignores your loyalty program

    The three reasons Gen Z ignores your loyalty program are also your three opportunities for competitive advantage. When you tap into customers' current smartphone habits (which includes goofing around for 3 to 5 hrs a day), deliver a light, interesting experience (that makes exploration and discovery fun and fruitful) and partner with them to co-create your relationship advantages -- your digital customer engagement is broader (15 percent+), younger (18 to 44), more frequent (4.6 times per week) and economically beneficial (18.4 percent increase in weekly spend).
  • Posted on: 08/15/2018

    Why is translating analog customer service to digital so complicated?

    All of Elaine's points are absolutely spot on. They're also incredibly daunting. Even if you have deep wells of cash to throw the topic of "customer service," the one-sided nature of today's definition of "good customer service" in the digital era isn't very inspiring. Imagine a painting of the all-powerful customer threatening to take her business elsewhere if the groveling retailer doesn't give her exactly what she wants, in the size and color she wants, exactly where she wants it, in less than 24 hours -- every time. Many retailers I talk with are so demoralized by the high hurdles of authentic loyalty (the kind of loyalty that might, say, forgive a mistake or an inefficiency) that they have to actively "not care" beyond the boundaries of their job description and budget. This is no way to life a life, no way to build a career and no way to compete! But what if we evolved of the concept of customer service and took it up a notch? In fact, I'd like you to consider the possibilities of evolving "customer service" toward an ideal of "customer partnership." We all have experience with partnerships. They involve compromise, they are multi-dimensional and allow more white space for creativity -- and a higher level of mutual, personal satisfaction (which is the most important "customer service" metric after all). For example, if you can't logistically get your customer anything she wants exactly when she wants it, what can you reliably and consistently give her that no one else can? How can she co-invest in your mutual relationship? It's a different way to approach a theme we've been seeing repeatedly here on RetailWire... the idea that "less is more," or Carol Spieckerman's recent post on "Retailer's New Cobbling Economy." Net-net, take a step back -- connect with what makes you unique and special, a big part of which is that you even have a customer relationship to start with -- then be confident, be focused, be you.
  • Posted on: 08/14/2018

    ‘Less is more’ when competing with Amazon

    The power of Amazon's infinite shelf is that whatever the customer wants, Amazon has it or can get it for them -- quickly and efficiently and likely at a great price. Amazon doesn't even try to manage or even strategize assortment as a competitive advantage, they simply annihilate anyone else's ability to make assortment a competitive advantage (similar to the way Walmart used EDLP to significantly harm any other retailer's ability to claim "value" as a competitive advantage). There is virtually NO barrier to any product making it onto Amazon's virtual shelf (compare that to what it takes to be carried by a brick-and-mortar retailer). The ONLY way for a traditional retailer to compete (with Amazon) on assortment is to leverage their own customer data to get really, really, really good at category management and merchandising (has anyone invented the term "precision merchandising" yet?). More broadly accessible competitive strategies are to focus on getting closer to the customer, co-opting them so to speak, to maintain their preference (assortment is one factor of preference, others include location, services, lifestyle considerations) and then finding unique and innovative ways to enhance the customer's ability to spend more at their preferred store.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Can AR help shoppers get where they need to go?

    Yikes, there are two reasons to go in a physical store: 1.) you want to browse and look at the merchandise (inspiration, quality control) or 2.) you want something immediately (efficiency). Customers who prioritize efficiency will just go online. This is not a good use for AR in retail.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2018

    Hy-Vee opens fitness-focused grocery store concept

    This is lifestyle selling and merchandising. It's on trend, it's differentiated and it's customer-centric around their healthy lifestyle customer. It's also a very expensive way to go about it. Hard to tell, however, if it's smart given niche market plays have high cost/benefit ratios. Most lifestyle brands are direct-to-consumer because the business economics demand it and the niche customers they are going after aren't often geographically concentrated. They solve this problem in part by co-locating with Orangetheory though, so we'll see. I'm intrigued.

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