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Is Chinese New Year to Blame for a lack of Tartan at the Cricket World Cup

Posted by USB2U on 16th February 2015 | Permalink

We’ve been documenting over the last few weeks the challenges that Chinese New Year throws up for the promotional USB memory sticks market but even we didn’t think it would have an impact on the 2015 IIC Cricket World Cup.

Tomorrow is the day when the Scottish team take the field against the co-hosts (New Zealand) in Dunedin but unfortunately they’ll be doing so without their specially commissioned shirts that feature tartan on the sleeves. Not just any tartan either but tartan based on the clan of 19th century test cricketer Gregor MacGregor.

Unfortunately the shirts, which by all accounts were being manufactured and shipped from China, seem to have been delayed and our suspicion is that they’ve been caught up in the same Chinese New Year challenges that we’ve been warning about for weeks. From the various reports flying around it looks as though the Scottish Team just left things a little too late and had no margin for any delays. What a shame because the shirts would have looked great and Ben Fox, a team spokesman has apparently said “it’s unlikely they’ll ever see the light for day now”.

Our best wishes go out to Scotland for their opener tomorrow.

If nothing else this little episode should act as a warning to anyone looking to buy branded goods anytime around Chinese New Year – it really is a case of “buyer beware”.

Our advice is to buy from a local supplier that has what you want to buy in their hands and all they have to do is apply your branding/logo to them. You might end up paying marginally more but at least you’ll know you are going to get them. It’s no good saving a few pennies only for the finished goods to miss your deadline. That’s embarrassing for all concerned – ask the Scottish Cricket Team if you’re in any doubt!

If its USB flash drives with your logo on that you need then at USB2U we hold tens of thousands of them in stock during Chinese New Year and we print/engrave them in-house so we not only control the delivery but we control the overall quality/production.

Unfortunately we don’t supply branded clothing so as much as we might like to we can’t rescue the Scottish Cricket team – USB sticks with a dash of tartan on are not a problem!

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

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Have you got your USB Hearts ready for tomorrow?

Posted by USB2U on 13th February 2015 | Permalink

Our USB Hearts are a lovely way to say how much you care about your partner. Not only do they look fantastic but they can be supplied in a matching gift box with a printed personalised message on the box. The hearts sit snuggly in laser cut foam and there’s scope to drop in your own personalised gift card in the box.

Of course the real beauty of these USB flash drive hearts is that you can pre-load them with lots and lot of personal messages, photos and videos that chronicle your relationship so there is lots of scope to create what is effectively a digital montage which will hopefully surprise and delight your partner.

Create a digital story; load up the flash drive with photos of when you first met, music tracks that mean something to you both, films and videos of time spent together and some poems or words that express your feelings.

USB Hearts for Photographers

USB Hearts for Photographers

As you might imagine these USB hearts are incredibly popular with professional wedding photographers who use them to hand over their clients’ portfolios on. Photographers that buy them (and to be fair it’s not just wedding photographers) typically buy them in our stunning white premium gift boxes with their logo printed on the box – we can print them individually with the bride and grooms name and date of their wedding on the box as well but this needs a little more pre-planning and they do end up costing more because each one has to be set up and printed.

Another popular option is our “double pack” which is two hearts in a single large white printed gift box – an ideal way to present photographs to any bride and groom.

Of course these USB hearts can be used for all sorts of occasions but at Valentine’s Day they do come into their own! Longer lasting than flowers and something that (if you put time into what you load onto them) will show just how much you care.

USB Hearts in Gift Box

USB Hearts in Gift Box

If Valentine’s Day is not your thing then our hearts work equally well as a baby keepsake – get the USB heart engraved with your son or daughters date of birth, get the box printed with a photograph of your child or just their name and date of birth and load up the flash memory with lots of photos and videos that your child will cherish as they grow up!

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Fifty Shades of Grey Promotional USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 12th February 2015 | Permalink

Have your cravings for promotional USB sticks have been left unquenched. Are you feeling just a tad frustrated and still searching for the right model? Perhaps you’re not quite sure what you need or what would be good for your brand and you just need gently leading in the right direction.

Perhaps it’s just a case of whipping up your enthusiasm for these fantastic promotional products – the pricing won’t leave your scarred and you certainly won’t be tied up in any long term contract if you buy from USB2U.

Most of our customers, with little encouragement love the service they get and come back to us screaming for more – can we tempt you?

Our most popular product is the Twister model and whilst it comes in a huge range of colours some of our personal favourites are the range of blacks and greys – hence the fifty shades of grey of course (what else were you thinking it might be!).

50 Shades of Grey Twister USB Sticks

50 Shades of Grey Twister USB Sticks

The Twister (or swivel as some people call it) is a great little performer because it has no cap to lose, it can withstand a huge amount of punishment and it looks great printed or engraved with a logo. We carry them in stock in the UK and we can typically print and deliver them (with your branding on) in as little as 24hrs – we work well under pressure so if you do need your promotional sticks in a hurry please give us a call.

We think all of our flash drives look better handed out in a matching gift box and we have lots to choose from in a price range that goes from “free” (our plain white standard boxes are free) to top of the range premium glossy white printed gift boxes and printed presentation tins with laser cut custom foam inserts. Again, these are held in stock by us in the UK and we can print these (in-house) and deliver them with your USB sticks in the same 24hr timeframe.

Whatever your event or campaign is this year it’s time to drop your inhibitions and get a little more adventurous and order up some flash drives with your logo on. If you’re still a little unsure then rest assured because with USB2U you’re in safe hands. Honest.

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

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Tins aren’t what they used to be – Well at least not USB ones!

Posted by USB2U on 10th February 2015 | Permalink

There was a time when a presentation tin box for a promotional USB stick was a pretty bland affair but times they are a changing!

There are two main factors are at play here:

  1. More and more companies that buy USB memory sticks to give-away (for whatever reason) are understanding that you get a much more positive response if your package your sticks rather than just give them out without any thought about how they are presented. It’s pretty easy understand why this might be the case – after all how many of us hand over birthday presents or Christmas presents without 1st wrapping them up or at the very least putting some effort into their presentation. Gifts (even corporate promotional gifts) handed out in pretty/attractive packaging look better, they generate a better response and they provide another medium onto which to promote the companies brand.
  2. Print technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Today it’s relatively simple to print across the full surface area of the USB presentation tins and the price to do this has dropped markedly. The results, as you can see from the images below, are fantastic and really do lift the overall impact of a simple USB stick.
Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

So, if you are thinking of buying promotional USB flash drives anytime soon it is definitely worth chatting through the options for packaging and in particular our metal presentation tin gift boxes. Not only can we now print in full colour (with print bleed right to the edge of the lid) but we can custom cut the foam insert to match any model of drive.

Of course it’s not just tins we offer so if tins are not your thing but you want a gift box then check out the extensive range of options we offer on our website. Pretty much all of them are held in stock in our UK warehouse and most (including the tins) can be printed and delivered in as little as 24hrs (you’ll pay a little more in rush fees for any “rush service”).

Remember we offer free samples (not with your own logo on but samples of our tins and boxes) so if you’re not sure which works best for you just ask and we’ll pop a sample or two in the post.

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

Printed Tin Boxes for USB Sticks

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Can you get Cheap USB Photography Bundles (boxes and sticks)

Posted by USB2U on 9th February 2015 | Permalink

The short answer to this question is of course yes. There are plenty of companies that will supply cheap USB memory sticks and gift boxes to professional photographers and if price is your only criteria for making your buying decision then it’s unlikely you’ll buy from us at USB2U.

Arguably it’s the same in the Professional Photographers sector – there is always someone with a camera who is willing to offer a cheaper wedding day package or portfolio shoot and again if price is the only determining factor then that’s fine, isn’t it?

From our perspective we’re simply not interested in a “race to the bottom” in terms of quality and price. We’ve been selling promotional USB memory sticks since 2003. We sell millions ever year to thousands of customers around the world and any cursory inspection of our company accounts will testify to this. We don’t make exaggerated claims about our company or our products instead we prefer to let our customers be our advocates and ambassadors – see our 2,500 + reviews on TrustPilot.

Why is this relevant? Well, if you’re a professional photographer then your might be interested to know that a couple of years ago we extended our range to include a number of products aimed specifically at your sector (general professional photographers, specialist wedding photographers and videographers). We put a lot of time and effort into carefully sourcing a range of top quality USB sticks and matching gift boxes and from day one we set out to make sure that the USB bundles that we sold were very different from the standard promotional products we’ve been selling for years.

We’re not knocking our standard promotional USB Flash Drives (after all that is what we sell the most of) it’s just they are a different product. They might not look like it from the outside but promotional USB sticks are freebie “giveaways” and their performance, specification and prices reflect this. More often than not they’ll find their way into a bin or the bottom of a drawer within a couple of months. They are not and should not be compared to the higher quality products we sell to professional photographers.

All of the USB sticks in our photography bundles have upgraded high specification components; upgraded controller chips, upgraded memory and upgraded capacitors and we offer them with a full 10-year warranty.

To the best of our knowledge (and bear in mind we’ve been in this market the last 12 years) you cannot buy high quality 64MB, 128MB and so on. In fact you can’t really buy high quality flash below 4GB these days so if you’re a photographer and you’re being offered this type of product you need to be asking some very serious questions about the validity of any “quality” statements that accompany them.

Our bundles start at 4GB. We do this not because we want to charge more money for the product and force you to buy more expensive sticks but because we know that anything below 4GB is going to be made using “promotional” standard flash. Put simply our brand and reputation means too much to us to sell you cheap, inferior promotional products and we hope your brand and reputation equally means as much to you and that you’ll invest wisely in your USB presentation packs (boxes and sticks).

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

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Will Your Be Buying Custom USB Memory Sticks in 2015

Posted by USB2U on 3rd February 2015 | Permalink

China might be about to enter the year of the Sheep but the USB memory stick market is, we believe, about to enter the year of the Custom model. We’ve seen a few false dawns over the last couple of years but finally this year all of the stars seem to be in alignment and it finally looks as though the year of the Custom USB has come.

If anything the UK is playing catch up with the rest of the world because in some markets fully customised models make up nearly 50% of the promotional market. In the UK, we’re significantly behind this at around 5% – 10%.

Why the difference? Well, first of all we need to be clear that when we say “custom” that we mean a fully bespoke 2-D or 3-D versions that are designed and manufactured to a customer’s specification. They are not standard models that are customised with a logo or design. An example would be a flash drive in the shape of a truck or a power drill or a word. They are “one-offs” and the customer who has commissioned them will not only take delivery of the finished product but they’ll own the rights to the design – no one else will have a USB stick the same as theirs, it will be unique and it will be in a shape/design then have actively been involved in the development of.

Custom USB Memory Sticks

Custom USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

We think the UK is lagging behind other developed markets in this sector is because of ignorance, high perceived costs and an expectation that leads times are going to be horrendous. Clearly the task of “educating” the market about the availability and benefits of ordering fully customised USB flash drives falls to suppliers like us and we’re ready to take on this challenge.

The benefits are well proven – they generate more buzz, they get people talking about the brand/product that they’re representing, they are more likely to be kept and used (over and over again) and photographs of them are far more likely to find their way onto Social Media sites which in turn will drive “chatter” about the brand/product. They are a great promotional product.

What does surprise most customers that ask about them is just how inexpensive they are and how quickly they can be designed, manufactured and delivered. Yes, you will pay more for them but typically its only about 10% – 20% more than a simple printed stick and the lead times at around 3-4 weeks are not unreasonable. You just need to think a little bit further ahead and plan (perhaps that’s our collective problem!).

To be clear there are no tooling and set-up costs, there are no artwork and design fees and you will “own” the rights to the finished product and you’ll get all of this (and the marketing benefits) for a small premium on the unit price. 2015 will be the year of the Custom USB memory stick.

Custom USB Memory Sticks - Shapes

Custom USB Memory Sticks – Shapes

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That’s it – China is now Closed. USB2U will continue to supply throughout CNY

Posted by USB2U on 2nd February 2015 | Permalink

Although we’re still a couple of weeks away from the day itself the impact of Chinese New Year (CNY) starts to really hit from today. The Year of the Sheep, Ram or Goat (take your pick because depending on who you talk to its referred to as one of these) is officially on the 19th February but understandably the factories that produce promotional USB flash drives want to stop taking orders well in advance of this day.

For the vast majority of factories today is that day. From 4pm today the shutters effectively come down and no new orders will be accepted. What this means in practice is that any orders placed after today will not start shipping from China until March with delivery likely to be around the 4th March at the earliest. If you need promotional USB flash drives before the 4th March (and even this is going to be tight because of the backlogs that build up) then you are strongly advised to find a local supplier that can fulfil your order from their own stock.

At USB2U we’ve lived through the impact of Chinese New Year for over a decade now and we’re as prepared as we could possibly be. We’re carrying lots of stock in the most popular ranges and we have them across a wide variety of memory sizes. We’ve increased our capacity to accommodate print, engraving and data-loading jobs in-house and we’ll be offering our usual 24hr and 72hr rush service throughout the CNY holiday period.

We’ve also bumped up the amount of packaging and accessories we have in-house so not only can we continue to supply printed USB sticks but we can continue to offer a wide range of printed packaging, lanyards, keyrings and other accessories. We know we’re in for a tough few weeks and we’re expecting to be putting in some long hours across the team here but fundamentally we don’t want to let anyone down.

We know we’re going to get the last minute panic calls from customers that have been let down by other suppliers who have underestimated the impact of CNY and that’s fine but we will be giving priority to our existing customers but where we can we’ll do all we can to accommodate everyone.

The best advice we can offer if you do find yourself in need of some last minute drives with your logo on is to call us and speak to the team. The situation over the next few weeks is going to be very fluid but by talking to us we can advise on stock availability and our capacity to print your order.

Cheap Flash Drives

USB2U Suppling USB Flash Drives Thoughout Chinese New Year 2015

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Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives – In Short Supply

Posted by USB2U on 28th January 2015 | Permalink

If you’re in the market for any quantity of promotional USB flash drives over the next few weeks and you’re looking for cheap and cheerful drives to hand out at shows or events then you might be in for a frustrating time.

At any other time of the year it’s usually possible to pick up cheap 128MB promotional USB flash drives (typically around £1.50 each all branded up with your logo if you buy enough of them) but right now, in the run-up to Chinese New Year, things start to get challenging. The problem is that the factories that produce the world’s supply of these items shut for two weeks to celebrate the start of the New Year and National Day.

When the Chinese factories shut (or stop taking orders in anticipation of their closure) the stock available to buy is that held by local suppliers and these suppliers (like us) tend to carry the more popular 4GB and 8GB models. Obviously these are more expensive than the 128MB versions but you know the old adage “beggars can’t be choosers”.

If you have any need for cheap, low capacity USB memory sticks in the next couple of weeks you are strongly advised to get your orders in now. Don’t wait, don’t dither, don’t spend ages trying to negotiate the price down by a couple of pennies – just get your orders in now because it’s the only way you are going to stand any chance of getting your order this side of the Chinese New Year blackout. If you delay you either won’t get want you want or you’ll end up having to buy versions with a much larger capacity and at a higher price.

At USB2U we have invested heavily in blank stock across a range of different models (and memory sizes) which means that we will be able to offer a wide range of options to our customers throughout this period of instability. Be warned though it’s invariably the case that however much stock we buy that it gets sold through very quickly and some customers always end up disappointed.

As ever our recommendation is that you either email your account manager or give us a call to talk through the options and discuss when we could schedule your order. At the moment (28th January 2015) we still have lots of print slots available but it’s a dynamic situation so please don’t wait.

Cheap Flash Drives

USB2U Suppling USB Flash Drives Thoughout Chinese New Year 2015

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Important Company Wide Announcements – USB Flash Drives

Posted by USB2U on 26th January 2015 | Permalink

It’s been interesting to see a rise in the number of companies using branded USB flash drives over the last few months as part of high profile, cross company announcements to their staff. The challenge is how do you give a disparate employee base (not all of whom have access to PC’s at work) critical information at the same time and in a format they can all use. It’s not as easy as you might think!

Say for example you need to announce fundamental changes to your staff’s terms of employment, or changes to their pension scheme arrangements – how, other than trying to get everyone together for a companywide meeting do you manage it? And the company in question employs thousands of staff in different locations; working different shift patterns a “company meeting” is never going to be possible. Do you stream or broadcast the message to televisions at each location, do you send out a letter and brochure explaining the changes, or do you send out teams of senior managers to each location of run a series of co-ordinated presentations? If you do the latter how do you control the message in terms of constancy and “tone” and how do you make sure questions are fully answered with examples and illustrations?

USB Flash Drives for Businesses

USB Flash Drives for Businesses

Until recently one option was to consider using CD’s or DVD’s and sending these out as part of a pack or handing them out as part of a co-ordinated roadshow. These could include comprehensive notes, videos, copies of presentation slides/packs and tons of other supporting information. But, the problem today is that a large number of new laptops don’t ship with a CD/DVD player!

As a result what we are seeing is a move towards the use of a USB stick, typically branded with the company’s logo and normally pre-loaded with lots of multi-media content. USB sticks or flash drives (as some people prefer to call them) are arguably easier to use, they can be plugged into TV’s as well as lots of PC’s Macs and Tablets and they’re reasonably cheap. When they’ve read/used them there is of course the added benefit of being able to use the branded USB sticks for storage of their own personal data.

They can be pre-loaded with their data right at the last minute and because of their size and weight distribution is relatively easy. As such they make the ideal alternative to CD’s and DVD’s and most staff members will have something they can use to read (or watch) the content on them.

If you’ve got an important cross company message you need to get out to your staff then you might want to consider using a USB stick with your logo printed on it and your presentation material pre-loaded onto the.

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Worrying Early News from China on USB Flash Drive Shipments

Posted by USB2U on 21st January 2015 | Permalink

It begins. Today, earlier than anyone expected, UPS, one of main international carriers out of Hong Kong and China has announced that they will not be shipping any more consignments of USB flash drives this side of Chinese New Year.

This is a problem. Not just for us but for the industry as a whole. UPS, we assume, have decided to give priority to other consignments in the run-up to the National Holiday. Clearly there is limited capacity and with everyone knowing that we’re about to enter a 3-4 week “black hole”, that capacity has very quickly been taken.

Shipments that would have originally been scheduled with UPS are now being moved over to DHL but it won’t be long before DHL buckle under the pressure and impose their own restrictions. What’s slightly unnerving about this is just how soon it’s happening. Chinese New Year is on the 19th February, the factories close (or stop taking orders in anticipation of the holiday closures) on the 26th January but between now and the 19th February the hope was that the couriers would operate a near normal service.

This early action by UPS is likely to lead to panic in the market as re-sellers, suppliers and customers around the world who rely on them begin to fight for alternative shipping slots. Expect lots of trouble and lots of disappointed customers.

USB Memory Sticks - Chinese National Holidays 2013

USB Memory Sticks – Chinese National Holidays 2015

If you place an order for promotional USB sticks and your order gets caught up in this then bear in mind that it could be March before you see your order. Yes, March and even then it could be mid-March! Once your order is “in the system” there is little that can be done – you’re at the mercy of the couriers, the customs teams and the good will of all involved. Typically your contract won’t allow you to cancel or back-out of your order once placed (because no-one else will want a USB stick with your logo on) so it’ll just be a case of waiting for them to arrive. If you’re got a time critical event you ordered them for (a seminar, trade show, conference etc.) then this could be a bit of a problem!

Our advice (and we’ve been saying this for several weeks) is to place your orders now, don’t wait and place it with one of the larger companies that has some leverage in the market and will be able to use the contractual relationships with the couriers to get your order through in the next few days. Failing that order from a local company that has stock in-house and can print and supply from stock – this completely de-risks everything and means you could get your finished sticks in a matter of days from order!

Having been through this madness every year for the last 10 years or more we always stock in advance of Chinese New Year so that we can offer our customers UK printed and engraved options. This year we will again continue to offer our various “rush” service offerings throughout Chinese New Year. To be assured of delivery of promotional USB Flash Drives during over the next few weeks give us a call.

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