The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) launched a pilot E-Commerce Technical Assistance Program, which will help New Jersey restaurants, retail stores, and personal care businesses continue to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Authority has engaged the services of Hudson Integrated, Positive Solutions, and Suasion Communications Group to help businesses that normally rely on foot traffic and in-person transactions identify and implement the website and ecommerce capabilities they need to stay in business while complying with current health guidelines and changing customer preferences. Businesses in need of assistance can sign up for the program here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/njedaecommerce.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has required many storefront businesses that are used to relying on foot traffic and in-person transactions to quickly shift to a more virtual business model. This can be an overwhelming and expensive proposition at a moment when business owners are short on both money and time,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan, who serves as a co-chair of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Restart and Recovery Advisory Council. “The three agencies we have contracted have the expertise to help businesses quickly and confidently pivot to a model that will allow them to remain viable while keeping their customers and employees safe.”
In May 2020, Gov. Phil Murphy established the Restart and Recovery Commission to guide New Jersey’s recovery from the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the most pressing concerns the Commission identified is small businesses’ need for assistance transitioning in-person activities to a digital space that is safer for businesses owners, employees, and customers.
Drawing on the Commission’s insights, the NJEDA crafted the Ecommerce Technical Assistance Program to provide a variety of services for businesses, from designing and implementing electronic systems for placing orders, processing payments, and booking appointments to training business owners and staff to effectively use and maintain these new ecommerce tools. In addition to supporting clients who fill out the NJEDA’s intake form, the marketing firms the NJEDA has contracted with for the Program are also required to seek out businesses to support.
To ensure this assistance is available to firms that need it most, the NJEDA has required them to make a good faith effort to ensure that at least one-third of the clients they serve are located within approved Opportunity Zone-eligible census tracts and to focus on serving small, women-, minority-, veteran- and disabled veteran-owned businesses. A map showing the targeted census tracts is available here.
Morristown-based Hudson Integrated offers brand and design, web development, digital strategy, and e-commerce solutions for businesses. In March, the agency launched its new, customizable “Resilience Digital Packages,” specifically designed to help traditionally offline businesses harness the power of digital technology to adapt and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As an agency that has helped many small businesses use digital solutions to grow, Hudson is poised to help businesses develop tools that will enable them to compete in an unusually challenging market,” said Daryl Bryant, CEO of Hudson Integrated. “Many smaller businesses feel overwhelmed by the cost and learning curve associated with technology and we are excited to help them overcome that hurdle.”
Located in Robbinsville, Positive Solutions is a full-service marketing and public relations agency committed to providing clients with a solutions-driven approach to solving their business objectives. For more than 13 years, the woman-owned firm has worked closely with clients in a variety of sectors to help them expand their businesses through marketing, social media, website development and management, and digital advertising. The firm also has experience creating materials in multiple languages that accommodate New Jersey’s diverse population.
“The shift to digital marketing presents cost and resource challenges to many small businesses that are challenging at any time but may seem particularly daunting when the business is also facing the added pressure of a global pandemic,” said Positive Solutions President and CEO Andrea Kelliher. “We welcome the opportunity to offer our services to businesses that recognize the need to incorporate more digital solutions but are overwhelmed or not quite sure where to start.”
Suasion Communications Group is a woman-owned, full-service marketing and public relations agency with offices in Somers Point and Haddonfield. For the past 13 years, Suasion has executed award-winning branding, public relations, digital and marketing campaigns to clients in a broad range of industries. Suasion offers a complete suite of communications services that drive traffic, improve brand awareness and increase sales through customer acquisition and retention. Suasion’s services include brand strategy, public relations, digital marketing, creative design, and crisis management.
“We are proud of the work Suasion Communications has done over the years to help small businesses in South Jersey grow and adapt to changing conditions,” said Susan Adelizzi-Schmidt, president, Suasion Communications Group. “This experience, combined with our deep understanding of consumer sectors, positions us to provide guidance to businesses seeking to leverage digital tools to reach and expand their client base.”
During the pilot phase, the Ecommerce Technical Assistance Program is open only to restaurants, retail stores, and personal care businesses that are registered and have a physical storefront in the state of New Jersey. Future expansions of the program may open it up to a broader range of businesses. Interested business owners should sign up via the intake form or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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