Lauren Forster – Merchandising Strategy EMEA in London

Lauren Forster – Merchandising Strategy EMEA in London

LAUREN FORSTER 

Merchandising Strategy EMEA
London, UK
Joined: 2017

Lauren is big on taking risks. Whether it’s jumping from a 12-person company to Groupon or jumping out of planes in New Zealand, she’s always ready to hit the ground running.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it? What does a typical day look like?

I’m responsible for creating the Goods quarterly merchandising campaign strategy for EMEA. My main role is to analyse internal customer trends, external market data, and financial forecasts to establish which and when supply needs to be pushed to the customer, as well as identifying new opportunities in the market. I work in close contact with the Dublin-based Marketing team to ensure their promotional plans are aligned and drive traffic to our newly-sourced deals. Once the campaign calendar is established, I create weekly deadlines and targets for each country in EMEA to ensure strong supply will be delivered. I also work closely with the in-country merchandising managers to make sure the correct deals are sourced to drive the campaign performance.

I love working across multiple countries; my wider team is spread across 8 different countries and this means that no day is the same! The people at Groupon also make this role exciting. I work with colleagues in Merchandising, Marketing, Buying and with directors who have a wealth of experience and are great to learn from.

What’s been the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?

Q4 planning (October-December) is the best but most challenging part of the role. This is the busiest time of the year for retail and if you execute the right strategy it can be a real game changer. As Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas fall into this period it means forward planning and regular stakeholder communication is critical. This year I’ll be travelling across EMEA to present the plan to every office!

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

Young and evolving. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in new projects and identify areas you want to work. There are also a lot of chances to get involved outside of work too: netball teams, running clubs, and volunteering, to name a few.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

All of our projects focus on making the website, emails, and marketing most relevant and effective for the customer, with the goal of increased engagement. After every campaign, we deep dive into performance by country and identify ways we can improve or decide what we need to take a different angle that will better suit the customer trends. We are also improving our retargeting through marketing channels and improving our understanding of the customer to make sure we show users the best content available.

Describe the proudest moment you’ve had at Groupon.

Being nominated for the People Blog!

Work with me!

What do your parents think you do?

I messaged my parents about this, their response: “I’ve no idea what you do!”  I think I’ve got my work cut out here.

Where were you before you joined Groupon? How did you get here?

After university, I joined the Graduate Scheme at Ocado where I undertook placements in buying, supply chain, trading analytics and merchandising. This was a great experience, providing me with a breadth of knowledge across core retail departments, which I use regularly in my current role. After the scheme, I moved permanently into merchandising to launch a premium online beauty store, a joint collaboration by Marie Claire magazine and Ocado. The company had 12 people in total…a very different size than Groupon! After that, I decided I wanted to work on a larger scale and across international markets, which is when I identified Groupon as a great opportunity to further develop my career!

What’s your favorite Groupon memory?

Every last Friday of the month we have International drinks where we ‘travel across’ the different nationalities at Groupon and sample the best food and drink from the nominated country. What better way to bring in the weekend!

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work? 

I’m definitely one to fill the evening out with friends for dinner and drinks. I like to try new places and cuisines around London, which are not hard to find! When the office is so conveniently located in ‘the city’ it’s hard not to enjoy a drink or two on the riverbank after work. I also like to exercise; I play netball and tennis and enjoy running regularly (although I’ve yet to join the Groupon running club!)

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I’d love to be a pilot (I’m a sucker for a good view) or a property developer. I like having a project, working out how I can improve it and making the most out of what you have available.

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

I’ve jumped out of a plane from 15,000 feet in New Zealand!

Charlotte Morgan – Goods Buyer in London

Charlotte Morgan – Goods Buyer in London

CHARLOTTE MORGAN

Buyer / Vendor Manager
London, UK
Joined: 2016

Most parents have a vague idea of what their Grouponer children do at work, but we have to admit that Charlotte’s dad’s prediction of what she’d end up doing here might be one of our favorite responses.

What’s your favourite Groupon memory? 

I have two favourite Groupon memories. My first one was when had a team event in the Berlin office and getting the local community to do things Groupon-related for points (points meaning prizes… or beer). My other favourite memory was being part of the first President’s Club trip to Crete.

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it? 

I am a Buyer for the German Consumables team based in the London office as part of the London International Buying team. I am in charge of purchasing the right products, at the right price, and at the right time. My day-to-day role involves conversing with major suppliers and distributors to purchase products that maintain and enhance the range offered for the Groupon customer. In addition to product purchasing, a major part of my role is analyzing the daily sales and maintaining the sales profit and margin. I love how quickly we can get an offer from a supplier straight to the website. Many other businesses can’t get products as quickly to the customer as Groupon can.

Who inspires you?

Martin Lewis, OBE. I think he’s such an inspiration and actively works hard to make life financially better for other people. I have learnt so much from him and I’m as savvy as I am in both work and personal life because of how he’s taught me to make that £ go further.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

Groupon wants everyone to work together towards the same goal whilst working hard to get the job done. Everyone was approachable and willing to give insight and time from entry level to senior leadership. The office had such an energized environment, everyone seemed to have passion for what they did.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

Consumables is a category that is an activation and frequency driver. We base our strategy that our customers are repeat purchasers for the brands that everyone knows and trusts. Our main goal is to have a consistent supply of the brands at the best price so that the customer comes back again and again!

Describe the proudest moment you’ve had at Groupon.

When I first started at Groupon, my category barely existed and I’ve managed to grow the category from a $0.35m category in 2015 to a $1.6m in 2017, with more growth projected for this year. It’s so rewarding to have been able to grow something from scratch and now have even greater negotiating power and now to many suppliers, Groupon Consumables Germany is seen as a significant purchaser.

I was also proud to have brought in one of the most successful “Owned Inventory” Deals of 2017 which brought the Groupon Goods EMEA countries a total of $250k worth of sales and a healthy GP of 17%.

Have you won any awards?

I was a President’s Club Winner in 2017. I recently got back from Crete as part of President’s Club…it was an amazing trip!! I also was a winner for Goods in the Consumables and Health & Beauty Categories for EMEA.

What do your parents think you do?

My dad’s exact quote when I said I was moving to Groupon prior to knowing my category was, “You’re gonna be the queen of Beef Jerky and toilet paper.” Funny how he predicted that I would be the buyer for toilet paper…

Want to be the Queen (or King) of your own category?

Where were you before you joined Groupon? How did you get here?

Prior to Groupon, I studied buying and merchandising at the Fashion Retail Academy which enabled me to have the opportunity to gain work experience in both M&S’ and Next’s Buying Offices. I then worked at British Home Stores (BHS) for four years on gifting starting as a Buying Associate, leaving a Senior Assistant Buyer (a.k.a A Christmas Gifts Elf). I was in charge of buying and developing ranges on branded and own-branded products working with FOB, Landed & Branded Suppliers. I had the opportunity to develop exclusive licensed products with large brands such as Coca-Cola, Nandos, and Tabasco.

After which I joined Groupon, and have been here for two years.

So what makes your role at Groupon unique?

I love being part of a company that is constantly changing for the better. There aren’t many companies out there where you can suggest and implement changes without being in a senior management position. It’s highly rewarding to know that your opinion matters and that you can make a change no matter how big or how small. Also, online is where the retail market is going and to learn and develop a global e-commerce business is the best kind of experience.

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work?

I love travelling, visiting new countries, and exploring new cultures. My favourite trip was travelling around Thailand for three weeks. It’s great that I can also do that as part of my job: in the past month alone with Groupon, I have been to Palma, Lisbon, Berlin, and Crete. I am also a keen runner and gym advocate and this year I was really happy to beat my 10k race time from 59:30 to 52:35 minutes! It was such an achievement crossing over the finish line knowing that all the training had paid off.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I’d like to be a food product tester. Food always tastes better when it’s free.

What’s your favorite local business?

The Shozna is a local Indian restaurant to us and if we decide to try somewhere new, we always come away thinking, “This isn’t the Shozna.”

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

“A wonderful day – –

Starts with a righteous challenge – –

Ends with solution”

Tell us something that might surprise us about you.

It might surprise some but not many….I am in love with Maltesers.

Milan McGraw – Senior Manager of Operations

Milan McGraw – Senior Manager of Operations

MILAN MCGRAW

Senior Manager of Operations
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2015

In all honesty, we weren’t prepared for the amazing stories Milan would tell about growing up feet away from the Groupon headquarters in Chicago, changing jobs from a little ecommerce company in Seattle, and supporting veterans around the country. Enjoy.

Who or what inspires you?

What inspires me the most is looking outside the office window on Larrabee Street and being able to see my old home in Cabrini-Green. Growing up, most folks from the Cabrini Housing Projects did not go to college, so being able to see what remains of it outside my window is a gentle reminder I must continue to do great things and set the example for others to follow. When my family left Cabrini, we moved to Humboldt Park where we still reside today. Each time I come to work, I am reminded of where I came from and inspired to know that with hard work, we can come from any place or from any situation and be anything we want to be.

What’d you do before you joined Groupon?

Prior to Groupon, I worked at a little company in Seattle named Amazon. While a successful company, it’s not the best place to work if you have kids. Having a place to work that provides work-life balance is my number one priority. I always remembered the Groupon folks I came across while working for Dyson a few years ago, and everyone always said great things about working at Groupon. Once I began my search to move back to Chicago, Groupon became my top choice. I could not have made a better decision: Groupon provides a great work-life balance, room for growth, and there is always something new to work on.

What was your first impression of Groupon?

My first impression of Groupon was several years ago while visiting the 600 West Chicago building and seeing everyone in a green Groupon jacket. I was like “Wow, this place must be amazing!” People were smiling, having fun, and were excited to talk about what they were working on. Overall, my impression is still the same: Groupon is an incredible company that changes lives. Simply put, Groupon is a company that wants everyone to have fun and add value to the lives of both employees and customers.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of becoming the daily habit in local commerce?

My work impacts Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce by selling goods from local suppliers on our e-commerce platform, educating vendors about how to set up their supply chain to grow with Groupon’s volume, and assisting in planning the right selection mix for our customers. Everything we do in operations is centered around connecting with local vendors and helping them scale their business on our platform.

“It’s really about coming together as a Groupon family to support one another, identifying the skill sets needed to help grow the business, and cultivating internal talent by providing people with the feedback and coaching needed to learn and grow within the organization.”

What’s your biggest Groupon accomplishment?

One of the most rewarding moments for me was last year when my team learned SQL and Tableau, then started running their own SQL queries without having to seek outside assistance. Team members took a variety of MOOCs, including Coursera and Udacity. It was exciting news the first time I received a message notifying me that a member of my team had completed their first Tableau class. Being able to retrieve, visualize, and display our own data has helped our department become the authority on operations. In the past when we worked on several dashboards and made requests to other teams for assistance, we had to rely on their availability to assist. Today, when we need some advanced analysis, a new dashboard, or an innovative way to communicate a story, our team can build our own reporting structures to retrieve the data. It’s really about coming together as a Groupon family to support one another, identifying the skill sets needed to help grow the business, and cultivating internal talent by providing people with the feedback and coaching needed to learn and grow within the organization.

Have you won any awards recently?

I recently won 1st place in the GLO-BUS: Developing Winning Competitive Strategies Competition. I acted as a senior executive at the best-performing company in an industry setting where a team of students ran companies and crafted strategies aimed at achieving superior financial performance and market leadership; the exercise was conducted in a strategy course at Morris Graduate School of Management.

What do your parents think you do?

My parents literally think I sell coupons…it’s hilarious. Every time I see them they ask “…any new Groupon coupons?” referring back to a time when we used a Groupon to have dinner at Al’s Char-House in La Grange. Hilarious!

So you’re involved with basically every Employee Resource Group as well as the Employee Volunteer Program. Can you tell us about your involvement in some of these groups?

I joined Groupon for Veterans in order to give back to those who have served and continue to serve. I am a U.S. Marine and my daughter is currently serving on active duty at Marine Corps Base in Honolulu. Participation in the Veterans ERG for me was a must for me. Educating others on the professional skills associated with military service is crucial: most people think of diversity based on race, gender, generations and thinking styles, but often forget military veterans. I feel that veterans add a ton of perspective to the workplace; most of us have traveled all over the world and are extremely serious when it comes to getting the job done. I joined G4Vets to continue sharing my military experiences with others, assist transitioning veterans with connecting to Groupon, and translate their leadership skills to the workplace. My most memorable event with our G4Vets was taking ten non-veteran Groupon volunteers to the Jesse Brown Veterans Hospital to volunteer for an afternoon. Most were in awe that such a place exists and were in shock that there were so many veterans who required special attention. We walked with veterans, read the newspaper, and listened to one veteran’s story from WWII—an Army Signal Intelligence Officer—who later became a postal police officer. It was not the volunteering that meant the most to me, but being able to share this experience with others who have no exposure to some of the challenges facing veterans.

If you could do any other job for a day, what would it be and why?

I would be a fireman because when a fireman gets ready for work, nobody asks, “What do you do?” Kids dig them, they straight up save lives, you get paid to help others, and at the end of the day, you’re a hero.

What’s your favorite local business?

My favorite local business is Yamato’s Foot Massage Bar. There is nothing better than reflexology! Get the Groupon!

Can you write a Groupon haiku?

The best view in town — Having coffee with my team — Making things happen

Tell us something about you that might surprise us!

I run two marathons per year (sometimes more). My most recent 2017 marathons include the Chicago Marathon and the US Marine Corps Marathon in DC, just two weeks later. I run these two specific marathons every year (and will for the rest of my life) so I can run for all those who are unable to run and for those who have sacrificed their lives to keep us safe.