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Financial Crisis in China no risk to USB Stick supply but Forthcoming Holidays are

Posted by USB2U on 25th August 2015 | Permalink

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks you’ll have noticed there’s a little bit of trouble brewing in China – the financial markets are in turmoil, share prices are in freefall and its anyone’s guess where its all going to end. Depending on what you read or who you believe it could be anything from a bit of a “bump” to financial Armageddon!

Damian McBride a former advisor to Gordon Brown appeared to suggest that the stock market dip could lead to global civil disorder or other situations where it would be unreasonable for someone to leave the house. Amongst his many suggestions is stocking up on bottled water and tinned food!

One of the many things China needs to do to address its current problem is to continue trading and demonstrate strength in its own capabilities as the manufacturing powerhouse in the world. The global centre for the production of Promotional USB Memory Sticks is in Shenzhen City in Guangdong Province, China and the USB factories have continued to churn out USB sticks in the tens of thousands every day during the “crisis”.

The clear message coming from the USB memory sticks factories is that its business as usual!

BUT, and it it’s a big BUT there is a something looming on the near horizon that will bring production to a grinding halt and that’s the National Holiday. From the 27th September to 8th October China effectively closes for business. Nothing will get manufactured, nothing will get shipped and no new orders will be accepted.

Irrespective of the turmoil in financial markets China is going on holiday!

So, if you are thinking of ordering some promotional USB memory sticks for an event in late September or October then you either need to get your order in now (so your sticks can be produced and shipped before the holidays start) or you may have to wait until the factories return after their holiday – if you take the risk and wait do bear in mind that it takes a couple of weeks for the factories to catch up with the inevitable backlog that will have built up!

As usual during these holidays we’ll be stocking up on a wide range of blank USB sticks that we can print/engrave in-house. This allows us to continue to offer a 24hr “rush service” but of course it will be on a much narrower range of products than shown on our website.

We’ll also be “tweeting” out lots of offers and promos during the holidays so it might be worthwhile following us on your Twitter account if you’re not doing so already.

Choppy waters for USB Stick Supply

Choppy waters for USB Stick supply

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Limited Time offer – FREE Printed USB Gift Boxes with Our Glide USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 18th August 2015 | Permalink

We’re expecting this offer to be popular so if you want to take advantage of this cracking deal then you’ll need to move quickly. We’re only running it until the end of August and then if you want printed USB gift boxes with your order after this date our usual charges will apply.

It’s not just “Free” printed magnetic boxes that are included in the offer. Order our popular Glide USB memory stick before then end of August 2015 and we’ll upgrade your order to our “rush” 5 day service, we’ll print them on both sides (for free) and if you need a bit of help with the artwork set-up we can do that to!

The only catch is that there is a minimum order of 25pcs but with prices for 4GB Glide USB sticks in the offer starting at £4.65 for 25 and dropping to £2.20 for 500 or more any order is hardly going to break the bank!

We always advocate buying your promotional USB sticks with gift boxes because they look much more professional supplied this way. If you don’t order gift boxes then we supply them in a thin polythene bag as standard but these bags are really just to protect the print on the sticks and make sure they don’t get scratched in transit.

The most popular USB Gift box we sell is the one included in this offer – the magnetic clasp box. These attractive boxes are strong, robust, they are easy to open and they stay firmly shut when closed by virtue of the integrated magnetic clasp.

Typically (and it’s the case with this offer) these magnetic clasp boxes are supplied with a custom foam insert that’s precision cut to match the shape of the USB flash drive that it’s used with. This not only helps with the overall presentation but also keeps the USB disks firmly in situ when they are transported or mailed out.

You could simply repeat the logo or design you’re having printed on the stick printed on to the top of the gift box or you might choose to use the larger print space available on the box to print a broader marketing message – there is NO charge for having a different image printed on the boxes!

The list price of our magnetic clasp boxes starts at 40p each (unprinted) so there’s a huge saving with this deal – whilst it lasts!

Free USB Gift Boxes

Free USB Gift Boxes Offer from USB2U

 

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What Happens to Your USB Stick Order Before we send it out

Posted by USB2U on 14th August 2015 | Permalink

When you order promotional USB Memory Sticks from USB2U you need to be confident that what you’ve ordered is what actually arrived. Before we even start the production of your order we’ll have taken you through a comprehensive mock-up and proofing process because it’s easier for everyone to make sure things are right before any production takes place.

Despite these rigorous pre-production checks we also put every single order through a very comprehensive set of post-production checks before it leaves us. To be fair it’s not a popular job because it can be a bit tedious but in a crowded and highly competitive market it’s incredibly important to us. After all, we want our customers to come back to us and we want them to be delighted with their order from USB2U.

Around 50% of our customer orders are “finished” (printed, engraved, data-loaded and packed) before they leave our factory in China and because of this lots of QA checks are done in the factory. BUT, in addition to the QA checks that our factory make our own Operations and Fulfilment team carry out the following additional checks before any order (including the other 50% of orders that are finished in the UK) leaves our hands:

  1. Every carton of USB sticks that arrive from our Chinese factory is thoroughly checked to make sure nothing has been damaged in transit. We look for anhy obvious signs of “crushing” and photographs are taken to record any damage or loss. If anything is found to be damaged or missing (it does happen albeit rarely) then we’ll alert the factory and ask them to prepare and ship replacements and we’ll notify the customer of any potential shortfall in their order. Where we can we’ll replace any damaged sticks from our UK stock so our customers are not inconvenienced.
  2. Every printed or engraved USB stick is checked visually against the signed off proof to make sure that it’s the right colour, that its printed correctly (the right colour, in the right place, in the right orientation and finally that there are no spelling mistakes). If accessories have been ordered, e.g. key rings or lanyards then we’ll also make sure these are attached.
  3. A random sample from each order (several samples if it’s a large order) is checked using the latest Trend Micro anti-virus software – this is particularly important where we have been provided with data to pre-load onto the USB sticks.
  4. A sample of each order is checked to ensure that the internal flash memory is the correct size. If a customer has ordered 8GB USB memory sticks we check to make sure the drives are 8GB.
  5. Assuming all of the above tests and checks are passed we record who undertook the various checks and then we carefully box up the order in a robust USB2U box. Whilst doing this we’ll count the USB sticks to make sure the correct number are being sent out and finally we’ll pop into the box a packet of sweets by way of a “thank you”!

We’ve been supplying branded and promotional USB flash drives since 2002 and these processes have been put in place and refined over the last 13 years to ensure that our customers can be confident that they get exactly what they have paid for every time.

QA Checked By USB2U

QA Checked By USB2U

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Best Artwork for Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 13th August 2015 | Permalink

If you want to order some USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them then expect one of the first questions from your supplier(s) to be about the quality and format of your artwork.

Whilst printed USB sticks can look amazing and there are some brilliant examples of them all over the USB2U website they’ll only look this good if you can supply decent artwork for your supplier to work with. The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is commonly by computer programmers as a mantra to remind themselves that a computer will process whatever data you load into it – the quality of the result however depends almost entirely on the quality of the code/data used.

Garbage in and garbage out can be applied just as easily to the printing of promotional USB memory sticks. Print them using low quality artwork, particularly artwork that has been digitally compressed (JPEG’s) then on the whole the results will be very poor.

So, before you think about ordering USB sticks with your logo printed on (or any promotional item for that matter) it is strongly recommended that you first make sure the logo or design you want printed can be supplied in one of the following formats:

  • EPS (Encapsulated Postscript)
  • TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
  • RAW (Raw Image Formats)
  • Vector File Formats

Artwork in this format will allow your logo, design or artwork to be rendered properly, printed correctly and printed to a sharpness you would expect. What you cannot do is take a JPEG image (that you have for example simply “grabbed from a web page”) and convert it to an EPS file. You need the original high quality image.

If in any doubt talk to the suppliers designer or get your designer or design agency to talk directly to the suppliers designer. It’s worth spending the time in the early stages of your order to get it right rather than be disappointed with the results when the printed memory sticks arrive on your desk!

We know that JPEG are popular and a common way of saving images from cameras (even top end cameras tend to default to JPEG images rather than RAW files) but, JPEG images (named after the Joint Photographic Experts Group who created the standard) are typically compressed to a ratio of 10:1 so you lose as much as 90% of the image content during the compression process.

This process is known as “lossy” and as the name implies when an original image is converted into a JPEG file many of the original elements of the image cannot be recovered. To the naked eye, particularly when viewed on a web page, there will be no perceptible difference to the image pre and post compression.

Compressed JPEG image files are ideal for web pages because they are smaller and therefore load more quickly but they’re rarely suitable for print, which is why we always ask our customers to supply artwork in any of the 4 image types listed above.

USB Buttons from USB2U

USB Buttons from USB2U

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Barclays Customer Data Found on USB Memory Stick

Posted by USB2U on 27th July 2015 | Permalink

A USB memory stick recovered by Police in Brighton in February this year contained the personal details of 13,000 Barclays customers. The information which included names, date of birth, addresses and in some cases employment details and NI numbers is thought to have been in the hands of fraudsters for around 7 years!

It’s unclear exactly how the data was originally taken but Barclays, who are clearly embarrassed by this further breach, have acted swiftly and contacted all of the impacted customers and proactively offered them each £250 in compensation.

A Barclays spokesman said: ‘This is not a new theft of data from Barclays. Every indication is that the data here was part of the same theft of data that was reported last year, relating to data stolen in 2008. It is simply a separate USB data stick that was not received at that point in time and was recently discovered by the police.”

They go on to add: ‘‘We are asking each customer to call if they feel their individual circumstances warrant different compensation, especially if they believe that they had a fraudulent event at any point since this data was stolen.”

To be clear it is not believed Barclays stored the data on the USB stick in the first place. It was more likely copied onto the stick by the original fraudsters but the whole episode does once again highlight just how easily stolen data can be distributed.

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Barclays USB Flash Drives

Most of the USB sticks we supply are used as part of simple brand development or marketing campaigns and as such any information stored (or pre-loaded) onto them is unlikely to be sensitive. If you do plan to distribute any USB sticks that you buy from us with confidential data on then we strongly recommend that you ask about the range of encrypted and password protected USB sticks that we offer.

Encrypted and password protected flash drives will cost a little more but this small extra cost is tiny when compared to potential compensation payouts. The compensation that Barclays have offered each of the 13,000 customers whose data was found on the USB stick by police in Brighton compensation will total £3.25 million! Ouch!

Better still don’t use USB sticks to distribute customer confidential data on in the first place. That might sound strange coming from a USB stick supplier but it’s not in our interests to see a popular promotional giveaway “demonised” by the actions of a few people who should know better.

 

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When Looking for Cheap Promotional USB Flash Drives Be Careful

Posted by USB2U on 24th July 2015 | Permalink

If you’re looking for a supplier of promotional USB flash drives then the good news is that there are plenty of suppliers in the UK and there are even more if you’re willing to buy from overseas. The not so good news is that it’s not always easy to make a real “apples to apples” comparison even when on the face of it the products you’re being quoted on look exactly the same.

For example if you receive several quotes for a basic 4GB “Twister” style USB stick (sometimes also called a rotate or swivel just to confuse you even more) printed with your logo (4 colours) on both sides then you’d expect the prices to be the only main variant. The reality is nothing could be further from the truth and here’s why:

Price is assumed to be the driver – it’s a bit of a generalisation but the promotional flash drive market makes the assumption that the USB sticks will ultimately be given away free of charge so companies looking to buy them won’t be interested in quality and will make their buying decision based on price alone. This encourages some suppliers to offer rock bottom prices based on USB sticks they know will fail quickly.

Cheap components – The internal components of a memory sticks can differ wildly depending on who you buy them from. Top quality USB sticks use Grade A original flash memory modules and controller chips but cheaper sticks will be assembled using Grade B re-cycled, “masked” or even fake components. Do you know what you’re being quoted for and if they say “A” grade how can you check that’s what you’ll actually get.

Lead times – Some suppliers work to a 28 day lead time whilst others can get your USB sticks to you in as little as 24hrs and the price will reflect this. If you can wait then it is often possible to get a cheaper price.

So, before you make any decision about which supplier to choose you really need to take some time to properly review the quotes you’ve been given and just as importantly you need to do your homework on the suppliers. Check them out on the Social Media channels and see what other customers are saying about them on 3rd party review sites like TrustPilot. These review sites are always a great baramoter of the sort of service you can expect to receive and the quality of products they’re selling.

If you simply ask for a price for say 100 X 4GB USB sticks and place the order without first doing your homework then dealing with the fallout if they all fail can be challenging!

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

 

 

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Will MRI Scans be next for the USB Memory Stick Treatment?

Posted by USB2U on 22nd July 2015 | Permalink

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen lots of companies that offer a baby scan service provide additional copies of the images they take on a USB memory stick. This is usually in addition to the more traditional printed images they supply. It’s a great idea because it allows the proud parents to easily share their scans with friends and family on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

One of the first companies to spot the opportunity was Babybond, the UK’s first ISO Quality Endorsed ultrasound provider, who offer their 4D Baby Bonding Scan results on a Babybond branded USB Memory Stick.

The scans that Babybond produce are high quality still and 4D moving images that are captured digitally. It’s these “digital” files that are then copied onto a USB stick. The introduction of a USB memory stick as an option is another innovation introduced by Babybond and reinforces their pioneering approach to the sector.

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

BabyBond USB Memory Stick

The interesting question being posed here is will private MRI companies follow where BabyBond have lead. If you’ve been advised that you need an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) scan then you might elect to have this done privately. They’re not as expensive as you might think, there are lots of companies now offering the service around the UK and in most cases you can get seen and have your scan done in a couple of days.

MRI scans are typically required (or suggested) to help with the diagnosis of a wide range of medical conditions and sports injuries. If you do elect to get your MRI scan done privately then at the end of your appointment you’ll typically be given a copy of the scan results on a CD/DVD (a copy is usually supplied directly to the referring clinician.)

Getting a copy of your scan on a CD/DVD is a great idea BUT with fewer of us having access to PC’s with a built in CD/DVD player it can be a bit tricky viewing what’s on them! You’ll struggle to find a new laptop or Mac with a CD/DVD drawer and even some desktop PC manufacturers have phased them out.

A better option for private MRI companies like Vista Diagnostics would be to offer their clients the option of getting their scans on a branded USB stick (with their logo on). Not only would it be a point of differentiation for them but also it’s likely to be a more popular option with their clients.

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Looking For Promotional Gift Inspiration – Why USB Sticks are a great choice

Posted by USB2U on 20th July 2015 | Permalink

If you’ve been challenged to come up with a promotional gift for a forthcoming event, campaign or conference then you’re pretty quickly going to realise that it’s not as easy as you might have thought. Coming up with something a little bit different and something that is relevant to your target audience, something that represents and fits with your company’s brand value(s) and perhaps more importantly something that is within budget can be tough!

The obvious “go to” choices for most people looking for Promotional Giveaways are printed bags, printed pens, key rings, cups and mugs etc. These have been around for years and they’ve maintained their popularity because they’re reasonably cheap, they’re pretty easy to get hold of (even with your brand on) and they’re an “easy” choice. But, what about USB memory sticks?

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives

Branded USB memory sticks (to be clear that’s a USB memory stick with your company’s name on and not a memory stick from a well known manufacturer who puts their brand or logo on them) not only look fantastic when printed up with a company logo but they’re incredibly popular with the people you give them to because they really are very useful and handy things to have.

USB Sticks are available in a huge range of styles and memory sizes and if you buy a reasonable number (say 200 or more) and you go for a small memory version you can pick them up for less than £1.50 each. You could even get your own design/shape commissioned (perhaps in the shape of one of your products) – these full 3D custom sticks only cost a little bit more. Just remember if you do go down the custom route to allow yourself a little longer when placing the order.

Where a USB stick really comes into its own compared to other promotional gifts is the ability to pre-load them with things like your marketing material, videos, sales data sheets, price lists, web links etc. etc. If you’re really organised these files can be loaded for you by the factory during the manufacturing process. The cost of doing this is tiny and in some cases free but it does rely on you having the information and files ready when you place the order. By loading this sort of material onto the USB sticks before you hand them out you can cover the cost of the sticks by the saving you make by not getting quite so many items printed!

With the rise in prominence of USB sticks (or flash drives as they are often called) there are plenty of companies now supplying them in the UK. If you do decide to add them to your short list then shop around to make sure you get the best deal. Please buy from a reputable supplier with a proven track record because its all too easy to buy cheap/cheerful versions that are not quite what they seem and will have a high failure rate.

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At USB2U we’ve got your number – Serial Numbered USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 13th July 2015 | Permalink

There are lots of reasons why you might want to put a unique serial number on each of the branded USB memory sticks you hand out. Some companies we supply have them etched onto each USB sticks so that they can “bind” a specific stick to a specific person. We assume they’re putting sensitive information on every USB stick and want to make sure if the stick is a) given out to the right person in the first place and b) are able to re-unite it with the designated owner should it get lost (and subsequently turn up).

Sensitive data that’s pre-loaded onto one of our USB sticks might for example include confidential product pricing or perhaps embargoed press release information that can’t fall into the wrong hands. Putting a serial number on them is not an infallible method but at least it demonstrates you are aware of the issues and that you’re trying to do something to deal with them. As well as putting a serial number on the physical stick don’t forget it’s also possible to protect access to the data stored on the flash drive as well – just ask if this is something you’d be interested in.

Flash Drive Serial Numbers and Bar Code Printing

Flash Drive Serial Numbers and Bar Code Printing

School and universities often get their USB sticks marked (engraved or etched) with a serial number so they can “link” them to a student – at least this way if the USB stick is lost (and subsequently found) it can be repatriated to the student who lost it. There’s nothing worse than losing precious coursework stored on a USB memory sticks particularly when it’s not been backed up to a cloud based solution like Dropbox!

We always recommend engraving or etching a serial number onto a USB sticks rather than printing it because printed numbers can be scratched off. The engraving costs pennies or nothing depending on how many sticks you buy and it is a simple but effective solution. Don’t worry about the numbers having a negative effect on the branding of the sticks because if you don’t want them on the body of the stick they can be etched onto the connector that plugs into the PC or on the side of the stick.

If you know in advance the names of the recipients of the USB sticks then we can personalise each one and print (or engrave) their names on the sticks instead of numbers – it really depends what you’re trying to achieve and how discrete the “binding” of the USB stick to a particular person needs to be.

If in doubt just call us and we’ll talk you through the options and lead times.

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Promotional USB Sticks with a logo that will last a lifetime

Posted by USB2U on 15th June 2015 | Permalink

If you’re buying USB memory sticks with your logo on then one of the primary reasons for buying them will be to promote your company and your brand – if all you wanted to do was hand out USB sticks then you could just as easily buy them without your logo on. Arguably it would be easier (and cheaper) to buy them this way but what would be the point!

Let’s face it if you’re going to spend a minimum of several hundreds of pounds on giveaways (like USB sticks) then you absolutely must get your them branded with your logo. Yes there is a small overhead to arrange this (versus buying blank) and you will pay marginally more for the finished product but promotional gifts like USB sticks are all about brand development and without a brand on them you fail at the first hurdle.

BUT one of the things you will need to consider when you buy promotional USB memory sticks with your logo on is exactly how the logo is applied. Do you opt to have the logo printed or is it better to get the logo engraved or embossed on the sticks.

Printing is usually done in one of two ways:

  • Silk Screen printing – using this technique each colour of your logo will be printed individually onto the case of the USB stick (onto which the logo is being applied) with the case often being baked in a small print oven between colours. The baking process tends to be used when metal surfaces are printed on because it hardens and toughens the print and protects it against chipping and scratching. On plastics its typical for a primer or bonding agent to be used.
  • Digital UV Print – UV printing is relatively new but its very popular because its allows full colour printing (photo quality) in a single pass using the latest UV printers. There’s a bit like a large photo printer you might use at home but with special UV inks that are dried and hardened by a UV lamp built into the printer. In many cases it’s still necessary to prime and thoroughly clean the USB sticks before they are printed but with care and an experienced operator the results can be stunning.

Whichever method is used the fundamental problem with printing is that over time the image printed will chip and scratch. Once the “bond” the ink forms during the print process is broken then it’s just a matter of time until the complete logo disappears.

Given the primary objective for buying USB sticks with your logo on is the on-going brand exposure you get from them then the quality of the print is a key consideration. Ink almost wiping straight off metal USB sticks is not unheard of!

An alternative is to choose a USB stick that can be engraved or embossed. OK, you’ll lose the ability to have your logo printed in full colour but the logo will last forever!

On the right model of USB stick, engraving looks brilliant. It’s tactile and the amount of detail you can get may surprise you. Both branding options (printing or engraving) have their merits but if you want longevity then it has to be engraving. Still not sure, then just ask for samples before you place any order.

Engraved Twisters By USB2U

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

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