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10 Good Reasons Why You Should Buy Printed USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 16th April 2015 | Permalink

Despite the continued growth in use of cloud based data storage services you can’t escape the fact that USB memory sticks are everywhere these days. Long gone are the dominant days of the CD and DVD. USB memory sticks are now the most popular way to save, store and carry data files. They remain a key business tool for many and they continue to play an important role in the daily life of hundreds of thousands of students.

The rise to dominance has not been quick. The first commercially available memory sticks hit the market back in 2002 and the first generation used the original USB 1.0 standard, they had a typical storage capacity of 16MB and they were typically boring, rectangular “lumps” of plastic – the focus then was on functionality and not design.

Skip forward 13 years and today USB sticks (or flash drives as some people prefer to call them) have evolved into a much more sophisticated product that is available in thousands of different styles, designs, colours. More fundamentally they use the latest USB 3.0 standards, they are fast and by comparison to the first generation products they carry HUGE amounts of data – basic models now have storage capacities of 4GB or 8GB but 256GB are available.

In the midst of all of this development and market growth Memory sticks have also become incredibly popular promotional giveaways. Here are just a few reasons why:

1.     Brand development and brand exposure – Branded USB Memory sticks are a fantastic way to get your brand in front of an existing or potential customer. They’re a popular product and people just like being given them

2.     Content delivery – With the vast amounts of storage on offer they are a great way to deliver content. The data can be passive (PDF files for example) which the user would need to click on to view or interactive for a more immersive experience.

3.     Keepsakes – Branded USB Memory sticks make excellent ‘keepsakes’ and there is a high probability that users will save their own information onto them thus making them a valuable asset with high-perceived value.

4.     They’re pretty cheap to buy – The cost of flash memory (the heart of any USB stick onto which the data is saved) has fallen dramatically over the past few years. As a result USB memory sticks have become a more attractive promotional option for many. If you buy in bulk they’ll cost less than £2 per stick (printed and with data loaded)

5.     There are now thousands of designs and styles to choose from and if none of the “standard” shapes are suitable its relatively easy to get a fully customised (bespoke) solution, you just need to build in a couple of extra weeks into the lead time and be prepared to pay a little more for them.

6.     Fast delivery – delivery times are now as little as 24hrs, which includes the printing of a logo so if you are pushed for a branded solution/gift in a hurry they might be suitable.

7.     The minimum order quantity for fully printed/customised USB drives is only 25 pieces.

8.     CD / DVDs are now seen as old hat and are a technology that few companies now want to associate their brand with whereas USB memory sticks are seen a new, innovative, and to some degree “sexy” and are the “new kids on the block”

9.     The technology that USB memory sticks are built on is well established and is highly reliable.

10.  There are lots of suppliers of branded USB memory sticks in the market today so they are relatively easy to source and the increased competition has kept prices low and quality high.

 

USB2U - Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

USB2U – Your Trusted Supplier of USB Memory Sticks

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Election Uncertainty Drives USB Stick Prices Higher

Posted by USB2U on 14th April 2015 | Permalink

The financial markets don’t like uncertainty and the forthcoming UK General Election on the 7th May 2015 is looking so close that uncertainty is the only one thing that is certain! The recent reports of a slowdown in the UK economy haven’t helped and the one big loser is the Pound (GBP), which has continued to slide against the Dollar (USD).

Today the Pound has slipped to $1.465, it’s lowest level against the Dollar since May 2010 – it is now trading 15% lower than it was less than a year ago.

For the Promotional USB Memory Stick market this is a painful time. All USB sticks are manufactured in China and the factories that sell them to the rest of the world expect to be paid in US Dollars. Consequently, the fall of the Pound against the Dollar effectively means that prices have gone up by around 15% in the last year! Worryingly it looks as though the trend is set to continue right up until the results of the election are known – even then there is no certainty that the Pound will recover so months or uncertainty lie ahead.

 

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Scottish Election Worries

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Scottish Election Worries

If you need to buy promotional USB memory sticks now then it’s just a question of “sucking it up” and getting your order placed. There’s little point in speculating what may or may not happen over the next few weeks and if you leave things too late then you’ll either miss your deadline or you’ll end up paying lots more for a rush order of printed USB sticks that are finished in the UK rather than in China!

The daily fluctuations in the value of the Pound against the Dollar are why you see so few companies posting firm prices for printed flash drives on their websites – competition in this market is fierce, margins are slim and putting prices on a website (unless they are changed daily and reflect the movements in the currency exchange market) is a recipe to lose money.

The best advice is to get a few quotes from some of the market leaders, check how long the price is valid for (typically it’s about 3 days) and then check when you’re expected to pay for your order (some companies ask for full payment with the order, some ask for 50% and some, like USB2U, only ask for payment when your order when your USB sticks have been produced and it is ready to ship).

If you can wait until the elections are over and hopefully some calm returns to the market then this “might” be the best course of action but there’s no guarantee. It all depends on who wins and how the markets react to the results.

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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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Looking Back at 2014 and Forward to 2015

Posted by USB2U on 1st January 2015 | Permalink

What a year 2014 was for us at USB2U. In the last 12 months we have seen record sales of promotional USB sticks, enquiries from new customers have never been higher and the feedback from customers on Trustpilot has exceeded all expectations.

We’ve gained new resellers across Europe and the number of orders we now ship around the world has grown markedly and shows not signs of abating. All we can say is “Wow!” and a big “Thank you” to everyone who has entrusted us with their project, their business and their brand this year. We really do appreciate your order(s) and your faith in our ability to deliver your promotional USB sticks against what often look lime impossible deadlines.

Much of our recent growth has been underpinned by continued investment in new products, a top quality team of people and our own in-house printing and engraving kit. A significant number of our USB memory stick orders are now delivered within 72hrs from order! So whilst many of our competitors talk in of delivery timescales measures in days of weeks we’re, for a growing proportion of our business, are talking in terms of hours.

Customers clearly like the comfort of knowing that with USB2U they can place an order one day and their printed, data-loaded and boxed promotional USB memory sticks can be with them the very next day! It’s a service that de-risks everything because it uses stock we carry in the UK, it uses our own in-house design, print and data-loading capability – nothing is reliant on being “shipped in from factories in China” or on the use of 3rd party printers. It’s a service offering we will continue to expand in 2015.

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives

We’ve also been bowled over by the support we’ve had from Professional Photographers over the last 12 months. When we exhibited at The Professional Photography Show at the NEC in March we knew immediately that it was going to be bonkers. Every day for the 4 days we were at the show people were queuing 4 deep to talk to us. It was crazy, exhilarating and exhausting. Keeping up with the demand from Photographers after the show has, at times, been challenging but again this was primarily down to an embarrassment of orders!

As we enter 2015 we’re absolutely determined to move thing up a notch or two so expect some exciting announcement from us during the 1st quarter of this year. We have already committed to exhibit again at The Photography Show at the NEC in March (but this time we’ll have a bigger stand, more staff, lots of exciting new products and we’ll have a better idea of what to expect!).

We’ve also just launched a new range of Power Banks thousands of which we hold in stock in the UK so they can also be delivered (printed or engraved) within 24hrs! Power Banks are just the start though so again keep an eye out for lots of new exciting products throughout 2015.

2014 was a cracker – bring on 2015

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Chinese New Year WILL disrupt supplies of Promotional USB Flash Drives – Please Plan Ahead

Posted by USB2U on 31st December 2014 | Permalink

We say it every year and every year we give the advice a little earlier because every year, without fail, Chinese New Year has a huge impact on the supply of promotional products like USB flash drives.

Don’t get confused, we’re not talking about the 1st of January which starts off the New Year on the Gregorian calendar that most of us use. No, we’re talking about Chinese calendar and in 2015, according to this calendar; New Year is on the 19th February!

The date that New Year is celebrated changes every year because it’s based on the Chinese lunar and solar calendars but it always falls somewhere between late January and mid-February. In 2015 it’s particularly late (in 2014 in was on the 31st January) and it will be the Year of the Goat (every new Chinese year is marked by an association with a zodiac animal).

Chinese New Year 2015 - USB Memory Sticks

Chinese New Year 2015 – USB Memory Sticks

Why is Chinese New Year an issue for us in the UK? Well if you’re a buyer of promotional products then it’s vital you understand the impact Chinese New Year has on the supply chain of promotional goods into the UK (and the rest of the world). Pretty much all promotional products are manufactured to order by factories in China and the finished items are then air-freighted in in a matter of days. Outside of New Year everyone gets used to lead times of 7-10 days but during the annual Chinese New Year “shut down” the lead times can be as much as 6 weeks or more!

So, if you have a sales event, a marketing campaign or a trade show scheduled for February or March 2015 and you are planning to use promotional items like USB flash drives then to make sure you get them you need to order them early!

Problems develop because China takes its New Year celebrations very seriously. We’re not talking about a 1 or 2 day break but rather a 2 week shut-down! Factories and offices close, couriers stop working and pretty much everything comes to a standstill. Employees travel thousands of miles to be with their families for the duration of the holiday and for once all things work related take a back seat.

In practice what this means is that everyone rushes to place orders on the factories before the holiday starts so the factories will typically impose a “last order day” around 2 weeks before the start of the New Year. This allows them to process all orders and get them shipped before they close. On their return to work 2 later they then face a huge backlog of orders and it can take several weeks before things are up and running smoothly again.

It’s the same with the International couriers and freight handlers – the closer it gets to the 19th February the more likely it is that it won’t go anywhere for 2 weeks.

Our advice and it’s the same every year is to plan ahead, get your order(s) in early and remove the stress from your life. If you do leave things too late then you’re going to have to find a local company that carries blank stock and has the capability to brand it up for you. Unfortunately , very few companies carry blank stock of flash drives in the UK and when they do the stock tends to be limited to a couple of standard models and memory sizes and your choice of colour will be limited.

At USB2U we’ve been supplying branded USB flash drives since 2002 so we carry the scars of past Chinese New Year’s! Because of this we always buy in lots of blank stock so if forward planning is not your forte give us a call.

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Data Loading onto USB Sticks – Boring, Boring, Boring!

Posted by USB2U on 12th November 2014 | Permalink

Someone has to do it but whoever gets the short straw is not going to be happy because there can be fewer more tedious and mind numbingly dull things in life than copying data onto hundreds of promotional USB memory sticks one at a time. Life’s just too short to be wasting it doing this.

Unfortunately if you’re buying USB sticks to giveaway then loading data onto them is just one of the things that has to be done. Given the core product is designed to store and carry data it’s a wasted opportunity if you don’t use the storage available to you to put something onto the sticks before you hand them out. With most promotional USB sticks now being 2GB, 4GB or 8GB there is after all loads of data storage space to play with!

USB Data Loading Machines

USB Data Loading Machines

Obvious candidates to load onto the flash drives are sales brochures, web links, product sheets, press releases, conference notes/slides, and videos. But, remember the more you load onto them the longer it’s going to take to sit and load each one!

Because putting data files onto any flash drive you hand out is a “no brainer” the simple solution is to get the company that supplies you with the USB sticks to load the data onto them for you before they are delivered. Most suppliers will pre-load up to several hundred megabytes of data free of charge – just check before you confirm your order.

If you’re expecting your supplier to do the data-loading for you then you will need to get organised and have your data ready. Don’t expect to be able to just drop the data on them the day before delivery is due because it’s unlikely to get done! Most suppliers will want the data with the order.

Companies that offer a data-loading service will usually use commercial and automatic USB data duplication equipment that costs thousands of pounds. Whilst expensive this kit not only allows them to load the USB stick quickly but they will be able to validate every stick to make sure its ok and they’ll be able to check the data loaded onto them has copied over correctly. These professional data-loading systems are rack mounted, they manage tens or hundreds of USB sticks at a time and the systems can be expanded to meet demand.

At USB2U we have invested in a number of professional data-loading machines which gives us the capacity to load thousands of USB sticks every day. It’s still a tedious job for someone to run these machines but it’s nowhere near as bad as having to load them one at a time on a PC!

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Money Laundering, Customs Issues, Crazy Weather, Currency Weakness & Factory Closures

Posted by USB2U on 18th September 2014 | Permalink

All we’re missing at the moment is a volcanic eruption in Iceland and that’ll top off an interesting and challenging few days. Perhaps it’s best not to speak too soon because the Bardarbunga volcano in Iceland has been threatening to cause major travel disruption for the last couple of months so we’ve got everything crossed that it won’t add to the current list of woes.

We’re a UK based supplier of promotional USB memory sticks and like all other suppliers around the world our core products are manufactured in China. For the most part this is not a problem because we’ve been sourcing products from 2 – 3 key partners for the last 10 years or more so we understand very well the issues and the risks. Until a few days ago our standard lead times of 5-7 days were still being honoured but right now things are very different and the outlook is that it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

The usual delays we expect at this time of year (because of the National Holiday and Golden Week) have been exacerbated and extended. The underlying cause is a range of issues all colliding together to create on monster challenge.

The elements that are at play are a major money laundering operation/scare out of Shenzen and Hong Kong which in turn has led to a regime where customs are now being instructed to be undertake more rigorous checks of all packages. This in turn inevitably leads to delays and backlogs and all of this is happening in the run up to the National Day and Golden Week holiday when the couriers, airlines and customs departments are placed under more pressure to get shipments out before the holidays start.

Add into this mix some of the crazy weather that has been experienced in Hong Kong and Shenzen over the last week (leading to flight cancellations and delays) and you start to get a picture of the near “meltdown” that’s happening.

Of course whilst all of this is going on we have the vote for Scottish Independence taking place oday. This is driving uncertainty into the financial markets and pushing the value of the pound (£) down against the dollar ($) – the net effect of which is to increase the cost of any USB sticks that are able to run the gauntlet of getting out of China!

The only saving grace in all of this is that we’ve been around long enough to anticipate some of these issues so we have lots of blank USB sticks in stock in the UK which we can print or engrave and turn around in 1 – 2 days. As a result we will endeavour to ensure all of our customers get USB sticks for their event. They may not be exactly the model they wanted but at least we’ll be able to offer something!

Printed-in-24hrs

Printed-in-24hrs

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Recycled USB Sticks – Great for DT Projects

Posted by USB2U on 2nd September 2014 | Permalink

With many students starting back to school this week it’s going to be an exciting time for many as they start in new schools, new classes and embark on new courses and subjects. Of course many will have just advanced a year in the same school and will be glad to get back into the routine (hopefully).

If you’re a teacher and you’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of this year’s cohort then good luck to you. Hopefully all of your preparation work is done and it’s just a question of putting your well-honed plan into action.

If you’re specialism is Design Technology (DT) and you’re still looking for assignment ideas then you might want to give some thought to setting your students the challenge of coming up with a new design for a USB stick. Despite the popularity of cloud based storage solutions like Dropbox and i-Cloud millions of USB memory sticks are still bought every year in the UK alone. They may be losing popularity in some sectors but the promotional market has taken to them with renewed vigour.

Part of the appeal is the falling price – it’s now possible to pick up fully branded (printed or engraved) USB sticks for well under £2.00 per unit (depending on memory size and the order value) so all of a sudden they’re in the “cheap and cheerful” giveaway category albeit they still deliver a range of valuable USP’s that other promotional gifts simply cannot match.

Build Your Own USB Flash Drive

Build Your Own USB Flash Drive

With thousands of different designs/styles of USB sticks available the challenge for any reseller of USB sticks is to come up with something different, something that will carry a printed brand or logo and something that looks good – in essence it’s a sector crying out for continuous innovation in terms of product design.

So, if you’re a DT teacher and you want to set your students a challenge then why not ask them to design and build a new range or collection of USB memory sticks that might appeal to various sectors of the promotional market or if you want to keep it simple to design a USB stick that the school could use or perhaps the students could sell to local businesses.

Inside any USB sticks is a simple flash memory module, a controller chip and a capacitor. These are typically attached to a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and attached to the PCB is a USB connector. All of this is then “wrapped” in a shell (the design) to give it an attractive, portable and easy to use form factor.

The internal USB PCB’s are readily available from USB2U who can supply new versions or versions that have been stripped out of USB sticks that are no longer wanted or more commonly are taken from new USB sticks that have had the wrong logo printed on them (there are new but are classified as re-cycled because they will have signs of glue etc. on them).

Of course if you buy re-cycled USB sticks for your DT project they’ll be much cheaper!

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UDP Flash Has Driven USB Memory Stick Innovation

Posted by USB2U on 10th July 2014 | Permalink

When the first USB flash drives hit the market just over 10+ years ago they were all based on one core technological solution and that was the combination of flash memory with a controller chip and a capacitor – these components were soldered onto a printed circuit board and a USB connector provided the interface to the PC. The result was a small(ish), portable and easy to use data storage device – the USB memory stick was born!

The “guts” of the memory stick (the printed circuit board, memory module, capacitor, controller and USB connector) are generally referred to in the industry as a COB solution – think of it as a common engine around which manufacturers build different designs/shells.

In subsequent years the storage capacity of these first generation USB sticks grew from a relatively small 8MB to eventually break through the 1GB barrier. Today memory sticks with a storage capacity of 64GB are common place!

The big shake up in terms of design came with the introduction of the UDP chips – in common with other sectors in the computer and gadget sector what was once achieved on a large COB card could now be achieved on a much smaller form factor. Effectively a UDP chip has the flash memory, the controller and the capacitor all rolled into one and as you can see it’s much smaller.

USB Memory Sticks  - COB vs UDP

USB Memory Sticks - COB vs UDP

As a consequence the USB memory stick product designers have had a field day! No longer did their designs have to work with a largish rectangular internal component but instead they could now unleash their creative talents and come up with all sorts of shapes, designs and styles.

Today the market is awash with thousands of different designs ranging from super thin credit cards to tiny little Iron Sticks and lots of really cute custom USB sticks. UDP chips are a boon to designers of Custom USB sticks because pretty much any shape can now be accommodated hence the proliferation of custom USB lips, USB animals, USB truck and cars and USB sticks in the shape of characters from movies.

USB Cards Using UDP Chips

USB Cards Using UDP Chips

There is no difference in the performance of USB memory sticks that use UDP technology. Their read/writes speeds are just as fast and they’ll support the same number of read/write cycles. Arguably they are more stable because there are no soldered connections to break or weaken over time.

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Laser Engraved USB Memory Sticks Create a Lasting Impression

Posted by USB2U on 3rd July 2014 | Permalink

If you’re the market for some promotional USB memory sticks and you’re thinking of ordering them with your logo printed on them then before you place the order you might just want to take a few minutes to consider getting your logo laser engraved rather than printed.

We understand that for some customers printing is the only option because they have to have their logo reproduced in full colour and of course we understand that printed logos and designs look great.  After all the majority of our USB sticks are printed and all of our USB sticks can be printed on!  But there is one obvious downside with printing and we’d be failing in our responsibility to our customers if we didn’t point it out.

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

Engraved USB Memory Sticks

The downside with printing is that over time the print will begin to chip and wear away leaving behind a logo that might not be legible.  It doesn’t matter what printing process is use, what primer is applied to the sticks and how long they are baked for to harden the ink after being printed because at some point ink and its adhesion will “give” and chip away or simply fade.

Of course the resilience of the print will vary depending on the material that the USB stick is made from and how well they are printed in the first place.  Equally the environment they are used in can have a major bearing as can the way in which they are carried –  if printed USB memory sticks are attached to a bunch of keys (on a key ring) then the constant chaffing of the stick against the keys will accelerate the erosion of the print.

If you really do want your logo to last and for your promotional USB memory sticks to look as good after a few months as they did on the day they were supplied then you ought to consider getting them laser engraved.

Laser engraving “etches” the surface of the USB stick leaving a high precision finish that is permanent and won’t rub or scratch off. It’s a very popular technique that is used on a wide range of promotional products.

Of course you won’t get the option of full colour but at least you’ll know the logo will be produced to a high level of accuracy and more fundamentally that the design engraved onto them will last the test of time.

Engraved USB - Iron Stick

Engraved USB - Iron Stick

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