Hoboken small businesses are rebounding from the pandemic with a little help from Verizon and its 5G Ultra Wideband network. As part of the 5G Business Impact Challenge, Verizon and TechUnited: New Jersey teamed up with small businesses in Hoboken to help them solve challenges brought upon by the pandemic; challenges such as communicating with customers in new virtual ways, or powering outdoor spaces with Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network. TechUnited:NJ, which empowers entrepreneurs and innovators through programs, funding and networking opportunities, helped identify businesses that received Inseego MiFi M2100 5G hotspots and 5G smartphones and a personalized suite of Verizon small business solutions. Tech solutions like One Talk calling service, a cloud-based business phone system, are enabling businesses to efficiently be reached and connected with customers, whether in office or on the go, and BlueJeans by Verizon video conferencing has transformed the way these small businesses operate and been integral to their survival amidst the pandemic.
So, what were some of the challenges faced by the respective businesses in Hoboken? With many small businesses, the challenge for each was quite unique. Elysian Café, the longest running bar and restaurant in Hoboken, struggled to maintain a strong connection outdoors, making it difficult for diners to close tabs outside. For SOHO Flower & Garden, specializing in gardening and flower arrangements, the shop was looking for new ways to connect with customers and boost sales despite decreased foot traffic. Joey No Nuts, a popular coffee shop, performs all of its sales at a takeout window and was looking to attract customers to sit and enjoy coffee and baked goods outside. Finally, Corporate Realty, a family-owned and -operated real estate business established in 1989, was thrust into adapting to virtual solutions and foregoing traditional operations.
“Without the help of technology, we wouldn’t still be in business today,” said Dominic Yun, owner of SOHO Flower & Garden. “Prior to COVID, we had a website, but didn’t do online sales. Thankfully, we were able to quickly shift to online orders, which helped us stay afloat. Now, we’re doing in-store sales again, but we still need to monitor how many people are in the store at a time. We’re thankful Verizon and TechUnited:NJ are listening to our challenges and helping us figure out how we can use 5G to solve them.”
“With 5G, we have been able to connect with our customers in new ways. 5G helped our business through a digital transformation by bringing our physical stores online through virtual shopping experiences, and showcasing the possibilities of AR,” stated Sampath Sowmyanarayan, Verizon Business chief revenue officer.
Verizon 5G Labs helped these small businesses by bringing them new, customized 5G experiences to help them overcome their challenges and better engage customers. Verizon outfitted Corporate Realty with 5G phones and a BlueJeans video conferencing account for live virtual tours of apartment listings, giving the business the ability to connect with clients over Verizon’s reliable 5G network, while navigating the new normal for real estate. For potential buyers passing by listings posted in the shop window, Verizon added a QR code, which instantly enabled a virtual tour of the listing without having to enter the shop. Passersby also enjoyed the 5G-powered Wi-Fi.
For SoHo Flower & Garden, 3D scans were captured of the store’s interior. The scans, accessible by QR codes placed outside the storefront, allowed visitors to browse the store, its inventory, and link to its e-commerce site to purchase goods through a smartphone.
At the Elysian Cafe, a MiFi 2100 was used to provide 5G to all patrons in the outdoor dining spaces and to provide the restaurant with better connectivity for point-of-sale transactions outdoors. People passing by were able to scan a QR code in the window to not only see what the interior space looked like, but also view the menu quickly in a touchless manner. Patrons were also able to enjoy 5G-powered Guest Wi-Fi, allowing them to work outdoors while enjoying coffee and food.
“Having detailed photos and immersive videos online is now more important than ever to engage people who are skittish about coming into the office or going to the physical locations,” said Basil Skaltsis, owner of Corporate Realty. “By giving customers the ability to scan a listing in the window and get a virtual tour, or using BlueJeans on my phone to give customers a live tour is exciting. This program is like making a new friend that helps you out in your time of need.”
“By offering our customers 5G-powered Wi-Fi, we’re hoping they’ll sit and work remotely and be able to entertain themselves and their kids by easily streaming video content and games,” said Jess Dyer, owner of Joey No Nuts. “Verizon and TechUnited have been a huge help in speeding up transactions, connecting us with other small businesses in the area, and helping us find new ways to engage and attract customers.”
“This program highlights what is so game-changing when you couple the most reliable 5G network and small businesses,” said Sowmyanarayan. “The fact that each of these businesses were able to find their own distinct use cases demonstrates the infinite number of possibilities that occur when you put 5G technology directly into the hands of small business owners.”
Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband is available in parts of more than 70 U.S. cities. Learn more information about Verizon’s 5G technology.