Going In-depth: Strategy for Retail Distribution

Departments and Team Structure
For a business that focuses on retail, below are core business functions to factor in as part of your business building and business growth activities:

1. Customer Support:
Several familiar queries from your customers arise, "I was double-billed", "wheres my product?", "Its been two days, and you said one day", "Its not the order I got" and so on. So undoubtedly the customer support plays a very vital role in any business.

2. Billing:
Billing is another key factor, because of online transactions. You need people to process the billing on your team, people who will address the billing situations that arise from your users:
"Was I charged properly?", "I dont like this, I want to return it.", "I dont know what your return policies are…", "You took my money today, but still haven't paid me back because youre going to have to wait for 20 days or so until the credit card company returns the money",… Billing issues are also aggravated further when the key point of contact for billing has many other things to do, so by the time they can review the return request, that was another 15 days later and so adding the days that are already included 15 and another 20 day that makes up for a lot of time. Therefore, billing becomes a very integral part of your business process.

3. Operations:
Operation is the execution of the actual work after an order is placed: packaging, shipment, delivery,...

4. Order Fulfillment:
Order fulfillment could also be a function separately: making sure the order received is prepared in a timely fashion, the correct orders are packaged together, the correct address is indicated, updating the customer on the delivery progress,…

5. Communications:
Communications has the components of communicating your product and offers; in addition, to solving customer support issues. It could be responding to Social Media comments, emails regarding product inquiries, …

6. Content:
Content includes the generation of the text and design that is needed for communication of the product and offers, as well as the customer support related public communication.

7. Ad Management:
This involves running and managing your ads on a regular basis across multiple channels: Instagram, Facebook, Google, Influencers,…

8. Cost Management:
Cost Management means keeping a close eye on your unit costs. In the very beginning we might be asking questions like "We are selling this for 30 dirhams, are we making two dirhams or 18 dirhams as we originally thought".

9. Partnerships:
When your product involves distribution via offline channels, that means you need to put partnerships in place to increase your distribution. Moreover, additional effort needs to be placed to nurture these partnerships after the initial engagement is in place.

10. Distribution management:
Distribution management involves getting the products to your distributors, making sure they are displaying them and have added it to their systems, identify when items need replenishing with specific distributors, …. From the business functions above, what can we merge into the responsibilities of staff?

- Customer Support and Billing
We can potentially merge, Customer Support and Billing only if that specific staff member is fully able to understand both responsibilities. When we say billing here, it is the process of returning your customers' money, which involves having access to the payment gateway to return (if necessary) your customers' money, so an aspect of trust is involved with that staff member.

- Operations and Order Fulfillment:
The responsibilities of Operations and Order Fulfillment can be grouped together as theyare closely related.

- Communications, Content, and Ad Management:
Communications, Content, and Ad Management can be grouped together. Your communication and content resource can be trained to be better at Ad Management.

- Cost management:
This is a function that you as a founder need to be very involved in. Mistakes here are detrimental to your business and to your cash flow.

- Partnerships and Distribution Management:
Partnerships and Distribution Management can be brought together under the responsibility of one resource in the beginning. Later on, you will likely separate them.
How to Grow Your Startup