Gopuff’s Secret Sauce: Transparency, Communication and Community

How Senior Software Engineering Manager Joelle Merwin leads her teams and helps the international company scale.

Written by Taylor Rose
Published on Jan. 27, 2024
Gopuff’s Secret Sauce: Transparency, Communication and Community
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Calling Gopuff a small business when it first started might be an overstatement. The instant commerce company — now known for delivering everything from Covid tests to fresh flowers on Valentine’s Day with a few clicks on an app — started with two friends dropping off bags of late-night snacks around their college campus. 

Since the company’s creation, Gopuff has expanded to reach customers in thousands of cities across the United States and United Kingdom. Despite this scope, Gopuff is a local company at heart, with a physical presence — a ‘micro-fulfillment center’ and team — in every market. 

The behind-the-scenes tech has to ensure that the local micro-fulfillment centers and logistics systems are in constant communication with one another — which makes the work that Senior Software Engineering Manager Joelle Merwin’s team does incredibly important. 

“The team is gearing up next year to work on fundamental changes that will open up the doors for our business to try new strategies in a scalable, clean way,” said Merwin. “After investing a lot of time in building a strong foundation, I’m really excited to get to the point where we can make big strategy changes.” 

For Merwin, the secret sauce behind building for scale is open communication. 

“Communication is the main ingredient — knowledge sharing and transparency can’t happen without communication,” she said. “Encouraging people to meet and connect and communicate is the foundation to building team bonding and trust.” 

Merwin specifically oversees the engineering that powers Gopuff’s micro-fulfillment centers and internal tools, and she aspires to build a high-performing team that delivers impactful and scalable solutions. For her, the way to do this is through open communication and inclusion. 

“I envision creating an environment where every team member feels valued and inspired to contribute their best work,” Merwin. “Ultimately, my goal is to lead a team that consistently delivers exceptional results, fosters a positive work environment and contributes significantly to the overall success of the organization.”

 

“I envision creating an environment where every team member feels valued and inspired to contribute their best work.”

 

The other key ingredient for a growing team, according to Merwin, is sharing knowledge in a clear and transparent way. 

“This is critical for Gopuff because, as an e-commerce company, priorities tend to shift,” said Merwin. “To be able to tackle the right problem and approach it the correct way, you need to understand the business, the system, the features and all the requirements.” 

 

 

Measuring the Secret Sauce’s Ingredients

For Merwin’s team, it’s fairly easy to see if open communication is moving like it should. The first measurement is how projects end up being executed, how quickly projects come together and the final quality.  

“If the whole team knows exactly what and why we are building a feature then they can make the right decisions throughout the development lifecycle because they know what the target is,” said Merwin. 

 

“If the whole team knows exactly what and why we are building a feature then they can make the right decisions.”

 

Merwin notes that this transparency and goal alignment has played the biggest role in the success of the micro-fulfillment center teams. 

“Transparency is that last ingredient we have here that will take the trust and elevate it to create partnership across teams,” continued Merwin. “Things will change — it’s not an if, it’s a when.” 

Part of Merwin’s method of community comes from respecting that her teams are invested in what they are creating. “It’s critical to be transparent and genuine with them when plans do change,” said Merwin. “Explaining and getting buy-in so there are no misunderstandings and everyone is on the same page is so important.”

Clear communication amongst Merwin’s warehousing and internal tooling teams is particularly important, especially because everything they do has a direct impact on customer satisfaction. 

“It’s critical that we are on top of our systems so that our customers are presented with the products they want and for financial reporting to reflect the right state of our business,” said Merwin. 

Supporting customers is extremely important for Gopuff. The company is known for offering help to communities in need.
 

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

Gopuff stands out as an international company with the community commitment of a small town business. The e-commerce company is known for its support of local communities, especially when a disaster hits. Below are just a few of the ways Gopuff has helped support communities in need. 

  • Regularly donates to Feeding America partner food banks across the country.
  • Participated in and donated to The Greater Boston Food Bank’s Day of Giving Telethon.
  • Sent supplies and donations to Kentucky when a tornado destroyed part of a town. 
  • Donated to The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia after a fire ravaged an apartment building in the city where the company is headquartered. 
  • Donated to help fight wildfires in Colorado.
  • Donated to relief efforts after a Miami condo building in Surfside collapsed.
  • Donated food to a community in Buffalo after a supermarket shooting.

 

Getting Ready to Grow 

Career growth at Gopuff is not unlike the business itself — each location requires different support, as does each career path. 

“There is no one strategy that fits everyone,” said Merwin. “People even at the same level are technically on different levels and each person grows and learns differently.” 

Her vision is to foster a culture of innovation, collaboration and continuous growth within the team. “I aim to empower individuals to reach their full potential by providing clear direction and opportunities for skill development,” said Merwin. 

Merwin sees herself as a guide to help her team review their career plans and call out where things might be missing or could improve. 

“The other part I play is to make opportunities available that fit their plan,” added Merwin. “I think that’s the best thing any manager can do. Find the right people for the right project that fits in their career growth.” 

 

Read More‘Being There in an Instant’: How Gopuff Shows Up for Community

 

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and Gopuff.

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