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: 04/26/2019

    Should (can) rivals meet the free one-day delivery bar being set by Amazon?

    Once again, Amazon's super power is both being there at the point in time that a consumer thinks "I need or want X" and then satisfying that need/want as quickly as possible, which happens when the product is in the consumers' hands. Of course one-day delivery strengthens that super power. What makes this challenging is the comprehensiveness of the offering. No other retailer can afford to make that same offering as comprehensively as Amazon. It reminds me of the impact of Walmart's comprehensive EDLP (everyday low pricing) strategy. The only way competitors could respond was through a high/low pricing - strategically lowering pricing on specific items below the point of profitability but making up that profit elsewhere with the trip. The only way other retailers will be able to compete with the Prime offering is to strategically offer something significantly better - likely via in-store pick up. Another consideration is the fact that Amazon subsidizes the cost of Prime by charging suppliers for being Prime eligible. In a perfect world, that up-charge shows up as higher prices for Prime eligible products on Amazon. In that case, it will be a question of whether low price beats convenience, or vice versa, and how often for how many consumers.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Can Walmart beat Amazon, Facebook and Google at the online ad game?

    In significant segments, like grocery and household products, Walmart's data set is vastly superior to that of Amazon, Facebook and Google - specifically related to who buys what. Linking that purchase data to ad exposure definitely strengthens their bottom funnel competitive advantage. However, competing for a top three ad platform position will require Walmart to establish a "top of funnel" competitive advantage as well. They can do this by strengthening their top funnel data set (preference, intent, psychographics) to compete with Facebook the search dominance of Google and Amazon. They can also drive growth by leaning into the need for better digital video ad options to compete with YouTube and Facebook who are constrained by their audiences acceptance of ads. Net net - given the speed and agility with which the Walmart media team is executing, I expect to see them in the top three very soon.
  • Posted on: 03/26/2019

    McDonald’s to use tech to make drive-thru menu recommendations

    This is brilliant. The underlying promise of personalization is solving for the paradox of empowering consumers with near infinite choice, while simultaneously simplifying the decision making process. Not only will McDonald's win with more sales, they'll win as a preferred stop for the busy drive-thru customer.
  • Posted on: 03/14/2019

    New shoppable ad tech creates opportunities across AR, search and voice

    Closing the gap between a consumer need/want and the satisfaction of that need/want is where retail sales will be won or lost. To the extent that a consumer knows precisely what they want, efficient shoppable tech - like voice or basic search - will win that sale. To the extent that the consumer knows what they want but not as precisely - say they know what the product they want looks like, but they don't know what it's called - adding imagery to search will win the sale. If the consumer has a need, but doesn't know which product is the best to satisfy the need - a more involved context will be needed to win the sale. And finally, to go all the way up the funnel, inspiring consumers toward a need/want state will involve something different entirely. Moral of the story - the opportunity of all of these technologies is to better serve the consumer in different need states and contexts and they will all have a role to play. The only ad - shoppable or not - that no longer makes sense, is the banner ad.
  • Posted on: 03/08/2019

    Will new Scan & Go tech turbocharge Sam’s checkouts?

    It's almost always more efficient for the customer to be checked out by a cashier, provided the store has enough cashiers. This is true not only for Scan & Go, but also for self-checkout - scanning a whole product vs. a barcode isn't going to change that. As such, Scan & Go and self checkout are both efficiency/cost cutting plays for the retailer and they are not about customer service or improving customer experience. In the very rare case that someone values avoiding human contact, there are plenty of less frustrating options - like online shopping. Which brings me to the next point, from a RetailWire post just yesterday "Where are grocers failing?" which pointed out that one of the things retailers are doing WRONG is providing insufficiently pleasing human contact. "Shoppers leaving without pleasant human contact: Over half (53 percent) of survey respondents were highly satisfied with their visit if they had a pleasant interaction, versus only 30 percent highly satisfied without one. Yet 71 percent did not have any pleasant human interaction on their visit. Almost three out of ten did not have a single interaction. Humans are social animals. We naturally seek company and community. So, it’s not a stretch to imagine that the physical stores that do survive and thrive will be the ones offering at least some pleasant social interaction with their customers." So, is pleasing human contact an asset of traditional retail or a liability? If it is an asset, and the study featured yesterday suggests that it is, then Scan & Go and self checkout are merely cost cutting strategies and a diversion from customer service and satisfaction where the game will ultimately be won.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2019

    Brands see voice ordering as more opportunity than threat

    What I took away from this data is that the Amazon brand, as represented by the voice of the device itself, is increasing in equity at the expense of the actual product-specific brands. The reality is when consumers are placing an order via voice, they either already know exactly what brand they want or they don't care (thus Amazon's private label brand growth). The means that the battle for product-specific brand preference isn't at the point of voice-order, it's way, way before -- at the very top of the funnel, where strengthening consumer preference for your brand is the top priority.
  • 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.

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