Here's an example of how this works!
An amazing conversation with CEO Jon Stern from Ringpin about QR codes and how Ringpin can help you turn your QR codes into amazing user experiences. Your customers will thank you and you can also improve your sustainability score!
Are you ready to implement affective QR codes?
Do you want to limit the # of labels on your packaging?
What if your QR code could be dynamic and get updated as your product or website changed?
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Welcome to sustainable packaging with Cory Connors. Today's guest is Mr. John Stern, the CEO and co-founder of ring pin. Hey John, how are you? Doing great. Thanks so much for having me, Corey. Good. Really appreciate your time. This is a awesome, unique concept that you guys have. I can't wait to talk about it, but first tell us how did you get. What's your background? Yeah. Grew up in Michigan, along with my co-founder and always wanted to live somewhere warm. So actually almost exactly 22 years ago, it was sometime this day or the day before or after I packed up from Michigan and, and moved to sunny San Diego and never really looked back for you. I've always been in technology since then working in startups. It consulting is S P a poker app, a baseball card app. a lot of different projects and platforms, but always been in technology and, and lo loving solving problems using technology. And met my wife. Almost exactly nine years ago. She was from Brazil, but vacationing in San Diego and shortly thereafter we had two kids, so we've been pretty busy. And as as you know, I was just volunteering in my kids' school about 20 minutes ago and ran home from there. So I've had my hands full the day, but that's what brought me here right now. I love it. And we had to reschedule this episode just by an hour, just because family first. Well, I took your lead cuz you posted about your commencement speech on LinkedIn this morning. So I figured it would be okay to ask you to modify the schedule and really appreciate you being flexible. Cause it meant a lot to me to be there for a slushy day in my daughter's first grade class. Slushie day will only happen once this podcast can happen anytime. So I, I totally I'm. I'm in man. I love it. Well done. I appreciate it. Thanks again. Yeah. Yeah. So let's talk about ring pin. What is it? How did you come up with this idea? It's in my opinion, totally awesome. Thank you. My co-founder and I have been talking about, you know, bringing digital engagements to physical products in places for a long time. But we didn't really, you know, kind of see the, the way in for many years until the pandemic came around. And as we all know, you know, QR code adoption really took off during the pandemic, but we didn't think QR codes going to static pages were, were gonna be the thing that, you know, captured. People's attention. Instead, QR codes going to personalized pages that are dynamic or personalized experiences customized for whoever doing the scanning was really what was gonna be the difference maker. So we started experimenting, you know, pretty much right at the beginning of the pandemic with a lot of different use cases in different industries to see where we could really help out the most. And now it's been almost two years since we started one year since we officially started the company. And we've really found some interesting use cases to help brands, you know, engage with their customers more places and from, you know, more different types of products and packaging. So it's been really exciting and, and we create those personalized experiences using a powerful API that can plug into any other system and pull data from another system in order to compile it in that page when someone scans. So yeah, been really fun to experiment and see what works and, and learn from what doesn't. So I like to assume that people don't know what are an acronyms mean. So what does API. Ah, that's a good one. Application protocol interface, or application programming interface one or the other as you can tell, my co-founder is the technical one. I'm, what's called our non-technical founder, but what the API basically does is allow two machines talk to each other and you can pull data and transfer data from one to another. So we can plug into any other digital system and populate our pages with data from another system. That's incredible. So can you give us an example, like like a cell phone to something else or how does that work? Yeah, a really good example is a big real estate company that we're working with. They own a ton of malls throughout the us, and they have over 450 pieces of property with over 9,000 units. And we put QR codes on all their sign. And when someone scans it, geolocates where they are. And then based on where they are, it serves them the, the appropriate unit information that they must be interested in and which property manager to talk to. So the API, what it does is it talks to their database and says, Hey, someone scanned here from San Diego or wherever they may be, which unit is closest to where they scan from. Let's show them that one and who they should talk to in that area. So it kind of takes all the friction out of the process. Plus makes the signs dynamic and that they only need one QR code on each sign. They don't need to keep on replacing it every time a new unit becomes available. A new property manager comes on, stuff like that. That's amazing. And, and talk about sustainable because now you don't have to replace the signs every time there's an update to the website or an update to the listings. What a brilliant concept I love. And the managers were having a hard time figuring out which sign went, where, and , they couldn't get on site to change the signage and all this type of stuff. So this is gonna solve a lot of different problems for them. We have other ones, we work with a lot of beverage brands. You can see, they put the QR codes right on the beverages and everything. And those they can geolocate also. So when you scan the beverage and you wanna buy more of it, it can tell you what store to buy. Or if you wanna leave a review, you can leave a review right there just really make it easy to run, whatever digital campaign you want from wherever the person is amazing. Do you think the QR code will ever replace the UPC, the universal product? I don't really think I know enough to know. I think that there are gonna be digital activations from physical places, always going forward, just even on you know two days ago, Apple's developer conference announced that the phone tapped to pay where you can bring one phone to another phone. So these are all different ways, whether it's a QR code, a UPC label NFC, where you can, you know, just be in the general vicinity. I don't know which one is gonna be the one that wins in the end, but in the end for us, we don't really think that any of those are the key. They're all just the method to get from one place to another. And it's all about what happens when you get to that next step. So our system actually works with any of those ways that I mentioned, but right now, you know, because of the popularity during, you know, when people had to use them for menus during the pandemic, we're going with QR codes. But I don't know if that'll be the end, the one that ends up, you know, winning overall. I'm gonna tell you a quick story that will make you very happy. I I was driving through dairy queen with my family. My kids wanted ice cream. They, they loved dairy cream. And there was a giant sign that had the biggest QR code I've ever seen. And it said, scan me for a menu because you couldn't go inside. It was the pandemic. And I, the light bulb went off for me like, oh, this is the future. What are we doing? You know, this, this is how it's gonna be from now on. And so when I had the opportunity I think our mutual friend, Sarah Scutter introduced us. She's amazing. And I, when I found out what you do, I was like, this is the guy I want to talk to. This is awesome. Yeah, Sarah's awesome. And I do believe this contact list stuff is the future. A lot of people right now, they, they might do a QR code to like a PDF menu, which doesn't, you know, provide a lot of value. And some QR people complain online about QR code menus and things like that. But if you have the experience where it really makes someone's life better or makes their, their eating experience better, where like you could view the menu and maybe order and actually pay and, and do things faster or get exactly what you want when you. We, we need to add to the experience. So I do think that that that type of stuff is coming. You know, and there's a lot of different use cases, whether it's in a restaurant or retail or direct to consumer or at events, wherever it may be. Totally agree. A hundred percent. It's it's changing the way we interface with each other in, in a great way. And it's helping people, you know you'll watch people get annoyed by a 32nd delay. Oh, it's not loading, it's not loading. So, you know, it's incredible how the expectations have risen so much that we have to like just be. Like free cognitive, almost like like, let's think about what they're gonna want before they even want it, you know? But yeah. Anyways, how, how does this, cuz this is sustainable packaging. How does this relate to sustainable packaging? Yeah. Would company put this on their product? We have a lot of our customers currently using it for sustainable packaging initiatives, some to just, you know, kind of display what they're doing with sustainability and use it kind of like as, you know, media or marketing, so they can put it directly on their packaging directly on their products, on inserts, within their products or shipping stuff, shipping labels so many different ways. And in, you know, a lot of the different ways are it can. One easy one is reduce the amount of paper and products being used because you can eliminate the number of labels that you need because the QR code can hold that information and they become, they become dynamics. You never have to worry about the information on a label or tag or package or box being up to date because you can always change it with the QR code. So the elimination of materials is one super easy way to make it more sustainable, but there's a million other ways that it can help also. I saw you linked to the Scrapp . People could put QR codes on boxes that lets them download the app really instant, easily, or get really easy instructions on how to recycle whatever the product or packaging is that they have. They could also really easily get like assembly instructions. Or something fun where like you could scan everything that you're about to recycle and you start building, you know, how many trees did I save or what's my, you know, offset that I've done for the environment. And you can even gamify, you know, recycling and taking care of products and packaging the right way. So I think that there's a ton of different ways to do it. And, and it's something that a lot of brands use to set themselves apart against other brands is, is how good they're doing for the environment and how much they value sustainability. Opportunities are endless and, and I'm totally. Excited to show the people that are watching. Now, if you're not watching on YouTube just wait. The episode will come out soon. But John sent me this and it is wood box with professionally drawn, horribly drawn. Doesn't that look like me, but I love. I'm so thankful for, for this flattering will get you everywhere with me. This is the QR code and when I scanned it. It brought me to a pull down list of scrap recycling demo. thought that was awesome. It showed me a couple other things. Tell me how, how that works and how you were able to do that. And thank you so much for the gift. Not only was it an awesome gift from our friends. Noms N O M S cookies. The cookies look amazing. I can't wait to eat one. Totally sustainably packaged all corrugated all reusable wood. Awesome. Thank you. Well, thank you. It's our, it's our friends at NAMS that really make us look good with those boxes. And I always knew they would be a home run with everyone I sent it to, but then once I started drawing my horrible profile pictures, now I get scared that maybe people are gonna hate 'em, but either way, I wanted you to get an idea of what we do, because it's always better to see it in person. And in action, then have me sit here and explain it. So what we did was we just created a really simple page for you using our no code page builder that allowed me to give you a personal greeting video. To give you examples of, you know, what Ringpin does, and also ways for you to get in touch with me. And that's the same way that a brand that's sending a product to a customer can give them a personalized experience as well. And we can integrate with a platform like Shopify to get all the customer information. And then everyone that gets your product could really get a personalized greeting along with it. And what's key is, you know, with those personalized greets, we also wanna drive actions. So if you, you know, when someone gets their product, they're usually the most excited that their ever be. It's a great time for them to leave a review, refer a friend, make another purchase at a discount or something like that. So we're all about like making the customers happy, feel like they got a personalized experience and then making their life better, making whatever action they wanna take easier. So it was real easy to spin up that page and it's mostly just scared that you're gonna hate the drawing. honestly, I love it. I can't wait to show everyone about this. I'll make some posts on TikTok and LinkedIn. But so let's take it front. Let's take it back a little bit. So I'm the customer. I have a sustainable packaging podcast. I, I wanna promote, I come to ring pin. You guys will build the QR code or you create that in a program. And then you'll build the back end of that, where the customer will come. To maybe they could book on my podcast. Maybe they could sponsor it. May whatever the case may be. Is that kind of how it works? Yeah. I mean, it's usually half and half. Whether we build the pages for our customers or if their design team comes in and build it themselves, like I said, we have a no code platform that page I built for. You took me about two minutes. And I'm a horrible designer, as you can tell from my drawing. So. We, we, we build some of 'em and some of them give us designs and put in the platform, but it's really easy to build those pages. The thing that we do is the API integration that allows us to populate those pages with unique information. So the page can be different if you're scanning in New York versus California, or if you've made five previous purchases versus one, it might display something different. So that's, what's really unique is that we can personalize all of them. But yeah, for, let's say for your example, you could come in, create a page that allows people to listen to previous episodes. Follow you on any social, give you any feedback that you want. And then you get a personalized link and a QR code. So you can use the link to distribute it online in the QR code to distribute it offline. So it's just, you have more touchpoints to reach people. And a lot of people use 'em like as link in bios for, for podcasts and stuff like that, to make it really easy for people to subscribe, leave reviews, download episodes, stuff like. That's a good delineation, because a QR code online doesn't do much good. Right? Exactly. Because, because you're generally looking at the internet on your cell phone, so you can't scan something that you are is on, you know, that's, that's kind of the, the missing thing, but then you fix that by providing a link that's scan or. Tappable I should. Yeah, clickable and it's short and customizable. So you get a really short one that you can put it in any social and it works really well. And then if you wanna go the step further and send people gift boxes, like Noms Noms is a great partner of ours and they would burn those QR codes on the boxes of cookies. And to be Frank with you, whenever I send those, I get like at least 95% response. From the recipient. And I don't do it in the very beginning. You know, I usually know someone before I send it to 'em. Sometimes you don't wanna send someone a gift with a horrible drawing of them before you talk to them. But when, when I know someone and you use it in the right place, in the customer journey, it works really well. And it's super effective. Yeah. Well, I was blown away and I'm glad we rescheduled cuz it just showed up 20 minutes ago. And timing was awesome. Excellent. Excellent. I thought of good use for this and maybe this is something you've thought of as well. Is instructions on assembly? Mm-hmm have you used it for to take someone to a YouTube video or some kind of a video. Yeah, absolutely. We've done it, you know, so that people can assemble the displays within stores. So we had one that was like a five step video and you would do step one, click next, go to the next step, real easy to show how to display it. But then the other really nice thing is at the end. Because all of our pages are interactive. You can take a picture of it and submit the picture saying, Hey, I put up the display, it's in the proper location it's made correctly here. You can review to make sure that it's been done done. Right. So not only do you get, make it easier to make the display, you can kind of get the verification that you did it. Right. You put it in the right spot and all that type of stuff. Also without needing another, you know, set of boots on the ground in, in the local location, just B. Just brilliant. Any other uses that are pretty popular for your customers? Yeah. There's some really fun ones. And you know, the ones that I sent you just go to a webpage. We also build little mini app clips, so what's really nice. And something that we could do for scrap also is that. You don't need to go to the app store and download these apps. They sit on your phone only for 12 to 24 hours, depending how much you engage with it. And you get all the benefits of an app without needing to go to the app store. So it gives you the ability to send push notifications, make apple payments, things like that. So we have a ton of flexibility. And one of the fun ways that we use that is we allow our customers, our brands to let their users create user generated content or U GC. So they put a, a great example was a brand put. A QR code on a bus that went to Coachella and you scan the QR code on the bus, and then it lets you take a selfie. And then you post that selfie to social media, tagging the brand. And now the brand gets social proof and, and, and user generated content directly from, you know, either a bus or the packaging or whatever it might be. So we love all those fun use cases that really, you know, do customer delight in addition to engage. And that also touches on with those app clips. You can do instant payments, so you could scan something and do one click, like apple pay or Stripe pay or anything like that as. That sounds perfect for like you said, a Coachella, a festival, a concert maybe a you know, a large meeting with a bunch of people from a company. You know, that's, there's so many legs here. This is amazing. I love it. Awesome. It's been, it's been fun, but that's, you know, to be upfront, that's also been one of the challenges cuz when we created it, we're like, oh, this would work great in real estate, this would work great in automotive. This would work great in packaging in retail and to figure out where we were gonna go after, cuz we did see strong signals from a lot of those different places. And we, we are finding overall that it does work in, in a lot of different places and it's just hard to come to market in so many different industries. You're almost too good. Right. So I wouldn't say that, but we have a lot of flexibility. well, that's nice because you need that. Nowadays, especially, and you've mentioned scrap, my friend, Mikey pocito from Scrapp is amazing guy and that's such a neat company. So you've worked with him in the past. I actually just checked out what they're doing. Cause I thought it was really exciting and we wanna get on more boxes and packaging. So I thought we could do some sort of integration where we'd even know like what the product is and it could give you unique recycling instructions for each product. So each box or product gets its own unique. QR code with those special instructions. So I haven't worked with them yet, but we always like to figure out cool technologies and figure out ways that we can bring it to more people. Yeah. They're a great company. I know. They're, they're actually down in San Diego at some kind of event this week. So I'll, I'll have no way. Yeah. Mikey or scrap someone from scrap, just posted about that all after this. I'll, I'll connect you with them. Cuz they're super cool people. And with the best of intention, you know, Mikey, just, they just want recycle. They want people to recycle. They want it to be easy for , us, , common folks which, , even people like you and me who study packaging and know about it, we still don't know everything. And so we, they wanna make it really simple. Absolutely. We'd love to help if there's any way that we can. I think you guys would be a good, good partnership. So this is amazing. Anything else you wanna tell us about any stories about this or anything you wanna say before we Do your contact information? No great stories. It's just been fun to explore the, the new use cases. You know, we've been talking about and thinking about QR codes for so many years and, you know, it was basically a dirty word here in the United States. , you know, everyone would tell you the horror story that they had with it or how they tried a big campaign and it never worked. So it's been fun over these past two years to see you know, people's attitudes, change, and us actually getting incoming people saying like, Hey, we wanna see what you can. Instead of like, you know, getting hung up on or doors slammed in our face. So it's, it's an interesting market opportunity and we're really excited to keep exploring it and, and see what we can do. I think you're at the right time to really push this. I wanted to show a couple of the flavors cuz they looked really good. Peanut butter and jelly numbs and confetti sugar confetti my family. We go for the confetti for sure. thank you. And if you're listening, please send me cookies. I love cookies. Thanks again, John. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Landsberg Orora for sponsoring this podcast. If you're listening, make sure you've subscribed. So you don't miss the next episode and please give us a review. We really appreciate that. Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.