Manager, Merchandising Strategy & Planning
Groupon is full of a lot of passionate, hardworking, quirky individuals and Jordan is no exception. He talks about how he connects users with pertinent deals on our site as well as his desire to take home the gold in his department’s Quarterly “Dip Off.”
Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it?
I am in charge of merchandising strategy for the Things to Do vertical. In a nutshell, once the sales and corporate partnerships teams close deals to sell on our site, it is up to my team to take the deals to our users. This involves strategizing who we should show these deals to, when we should target these users, and what platform makes the most sense (email, push notification, etc.). We know that our users’ time is valuable. Based on what we know about our users’ engagement with Groupon, we use data to serve the most pertinent deals for them at the most relevant occasion. The better we do our job, the more users will continue engaging with our platform, being inspired by our great content, and discovering new and exciting local businesses.
What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?
It has been a work in progress for Groupon to make the transition in customers’ minds from a daily deal site to a marketplace. This is something that all teams are working on in their own way. For example, in the Things to Do business, we have a growing number of live events (sports and concerts) that are not discounted. Inventory like this allows our platform to become more all-encompassing when a user is looking for things to do in their city and they can use Groupon as a one-stop shop for all of their options. However, we must continue to work to clearly distinguish market rate pricing from discounted in order to maintain user trust throughout this transition.
There are a lot of amazing Groupon stories. What’s your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment—which is a never-ending process—is continuously improving the efficiency of our Things to Do targeted merchandising. We only get to engage with most of our customers for a few seconds a day. Because of this, we have to do a great job curating and personalizing the inventory we show them to get them hooked and hopefully engaged enough to click through and come to our site to browse more. Part of this effort has been creating campaigns that effectively read signals that users give us with their Groupon behavior. This allows us to serve both relevant deals that the customer may know about and inspire our customers with new content and occasions to use Groupon.
Can you write a Groupon haiku?
Deals on deals on deals —
Inspiring our customers —
Save money all day
Tell us about your involvement with Groupon Volunteers!
I have participated in two volunteer events so far at Groupon, but am definitely looking to do more this year. It always feels good to give back and help those in need. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you devote some of your time and resources to volunteering; just the other day we packed 7,000 lbs of sweet potatoes in just 2.5 hours! In addition, it’s always a fun team-building activity and allows us to create bonds outside of work.
Your role probably exists at other companies aside from Groupon…so what makes your role at Groupon unique?
In my career so far, I have always worked in the retail/consumer sector. I love getting products to market, showcasing and curating assortments for different user segments, and using customer data to fuel decisions. Groupon has been my first step into eCommerce, which opens up an entirely new world of merchandising. Groupon is able to hyper-target customers and create different user experiences, which I was excited to learn about. Also, I like that Groupon was, and continues to be, an innovator in their field and a true leader in the experiences/local marketplace. As a millennial, I value experiences and community, and Groupon is really in the business of getting these types of things out to the world.
How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?
My work is very closely tied to Groupon’s mission. Some of our team’s key goals are user engagement and purchase frequency. Inherently, through our merchandising, we are hoping that we show users the best content that Groupon has to offer for them. With this, even if they don’t make a purchase that day, they have a greater awareness of the types of businesses that Groupon works with and the money they can save by shopping on Groupon. As a result, they will hopefully get into the habit of “checking Groupon first.”
What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?
Before working at Groupon, I had the impression of 2008 Groupon: a daily email with great random deals from your neighborhood. Boy, was I wrong. I quickly learned that Groupon has evolved so much from the early days. We truly offer our users a unique combination of value and convenience by providing a marketplace with offerings ranging from your local pizza joint to tickets to the Cubs game to a guided tour of Greece.
What’d you do before Groupon? How’d you get here?
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. For college, I went out to the west coast and earned my business degree from USC. After college, I was looking to come back to the Midwest to be closer to friends and family. I started my career at Target HQ in Minneapolis and worked there for four years. I had a few different roles, ranging from inventory/vendor management for the candles department (Pumpkin Cheesecake is my favorite), to winding down the supply chain for Target Pharmacy after it was acquired by CVS. I moved into a role at Tyson Foods for six months, calling on Target as a Category Manager for lunchmeat and protein snacking. Finally, my wife and I decided to pack our bags and move back to Chicago.
You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work?
My favorite way to spend my free time is traveling. I have been to 35 countries, including a 10-week trip to Australia/Southeast Asia/Japan right before starting at Groupon. I have found that there is nothing like experiencing different cultures, history, and (most importantly) food scenes. In addition to travel, I like playing, watching, and doing anything at all related to sports. I like to ride my bike by Lake Michigan in the summer. Finally, I am a huge lover of any and all sauces/condiments. I don’t discriminate, but if I had to pick favorites it would definitely be chipotle ranch and hummus.
Who or what inspires you?
What keeps me inspired by the work that I do is that the projects that I work on and decisions our teams make actually impact our communities and people that I know every day. Almost everyone has had their own Groupon experience and there is a real love for the brand. I love talking with friends and family and hearing about the latest Groupons that they have bought, how it got them out of their comfort zone, got them to try a new business, or just saved them a ton of money. These types of conversations remind me that I can see real-time results for the work that I am doing.
What’s your favorite Groupon memory?
I think it has to be the Quarterly “Dip Offs” that we have in our department. To start, I am very passionate about dips, sauces, and condiments. So, nothing could be better than stuffing our faces once a quarter with a variety of 20+ dips and ultimately voting on a champion. I’m coming for the crown at our next one.
Editor’s note: Check out Neville Horton’s story if you can’t get enough of condiments.
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?
I would be a hot dog vendor at Wrigley Field. I’d get to work outside—at baseball’s mecca—selling an all-American classic.
What’s your favorite local business?
They’ve expanded more and more in recent years, but in my heart, it has to be Lou Malnati’s. The deep dish just hits the spot any day and is a true Chicago classic.
What do your parents think you do?
Mom direct quote via text: “I think you analyze the activities and experiences that Groupon sells to see what is popular or not. You try to explore and cultivate new and trendy experiences. You seek to broaden the appeal of the experiences Groupon offers by analyzing demographics and price point.” (OK, so sounds pretty accurate!)
Tell us something that might surprise us about you.
While living in Minneapolis, I ran in the Minnesota Twins mascot race as Louie the Loon on two separate occasions. The first time, I lost…by a beak. The second time I came out victorious!