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UK General Election – Not Helpful for Promotional USB Memory Sticks Prices

Posted by USB2U on 6th May 2015 | Permalink

With less than 24hrs until the voting starts the election is still too close to call. What is certain is that most of us a fed up with the on-going discussion, debate, speculation and dissection and we just want to get on with it and deal with the inevitable fallout when it comes. It’s clearly not going to be pretty and it’d be no real surprise if we end up doing it all over again in a few month time because of a vote of no confidence! Sigh!

We faced a similar uncertainty following the last election (although arguably this time its going to be much worse) and last time the financial markets reacted badly with share prices tumbling and the £ (GBP) falling in value against most other leading currencies including he $ (USD).

The financial markets are already pretty fragile not least because of the on-going issues with the Greece bailout and additional and prolonged uncertainty in the UK is likely to push things over the edge.

For any company looking to buy promotional USB memory sticks or custom USB flash drives in the short term this is bad news. The vast majority of USB memory sticks in the world are manufactured in China and the factories that manufacture them all expect to be paid in $’s (USD). So, any weakening of the £ (GBP) against the $ (USD) is going to mean an increase in prices coupled with a lack a stability in terms of pricing. It’s bad enough now that prices are only held for around 3 days but when the markets enter a period of sustained uncertainty then prices for USB sticks (which are driven to a large degree by the currency markets) can change daily!

As a company this will be our 3rd General Election (we set up the company in 2002) so we’ve a reasonable amount of experience of dealing with the challenges they can pose. To try and protect our customers we have forward bought a large amount of stock and we’ve protected ourselves for some time against currency movements. We want to provide as much as a cushion as we can against the uncertainties we (and our customers) are likely to be faced with over the coming months!

So, if you are looking for USB memory sticks printed of engraved with your logo and perhaps a great looking gift box to put them in then we’d strongly recommend getting in touch with us at USB2U – not just now because of the elections but at anytime!

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of  Election Worries

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Election Worries

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Advice for Professional Photographers thinking of buying USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 30th April 2015 | Permalink

There has been a marked shift in the way in which professional photographers supply digital copies of their images. Fewer and fewer are using CD’s and DVD’s instead preferring to make them available on USB memory sticks or simply uploading them to a cloud based storage service from which their clients can download them.

Cloud based options are an easy and simple solution but they don’t really offer much in the way of driving additional revenue, building brand loyalty or giving the customer something really personal and tangible. In an increasingly competitive photography market it’s important for photographers to differentiate their service and in pure commercial terms it critical that every revenue opportunity is maximised. When you’re a professional you’re running a business and whilst some of the elite or privileged might be able to just focus on the photography for the rest it’s about earning enough to stay in a business they love and putting food on the table.

There are now some absolutely amazing USB packages available that have been put together specifically with the professional photographer but why buy these instead of just picking up a decent Kingston or Lexar drive from your local Staples or PC World Store?

The standard drives will do the job but they won’t exactly make anyone’s heart miss a beat if they’re given their wedding or family portfolios on one of them and charging a premium for them might be a challenge! Equally don’t expect to see lots of Facebook posts or Tweets about them and how they were blown away by them – these standard USB sticks are boring, they’re about function not flair, they’re not designed to lift peoples spirits they’re designed as a business tool.

Great photographs work on an emotional level so if you are going to use USB sticks to distribute them on then surely it’s best to use one that looks as though some care, creativity and thought has gone into its choice? Use one that reflects your own style and approach and works in harmony with your photographs and your typical clients.

When shopping for USB memory sticks here are some basic tips to help you:

  1. Find a specialist supplier – the vast majority of USB memory sticks suppliers are mainly selling them to companies that give will them away at trade shows and exhibitions or press events. These are usually cheap and cheerful flash drives that will have slow(ish) read/write speeds and will have limited branding and packaging options. Ideally find a supplier has a proved track record of supplying photographers, understands the industry and has developed a range of packages specifically for the photography sector.
  2. Buy a product that is fit for purpose – The typical read/write speeds of a “promotional USB sticks” is usually little more than 2MB per second (write) and 4MB per second (read). This is fine if they are just being data loaded with a couple of PDF sales brochures but, if you’re a professional photographer you will need to get USB sticks with better (upgraded) flash memory and better controller chips. If you don’t then be prepared to spend several hours copying your photographs onto each USB stick.
  3. Consider using the latest USB 3.0 sticks. USB 3.0 is the new standard for USB. USB sticks that use this standard will have read/write speeds of around 50MB – 100MB per second so they are very, very fast! They cost a little more than equivalent USB 2.0 sticks (but not as much as you might expect) but to take advantage of the speeds they offer you’ll need a PC or Mac that is equipped with USB 3.0 USB ports. Even if your clients only have PC’s with the older USB 2.0 USB port on them they will still be able to use them they’ll just run a bit slower. The real benefit is the time you’ll save loading the images onto the sticks.
  4. Get Physical Samples and Mock Ups – Ask for free samples to help you choose which model to go with and get your supplier to work up various mock-ups and examples for you. Again, a good supplier will have an in-house design team and they should be able to suggest and illustrate a number of options that will work with your brand or logo. Don’t pay for this. Mock-ups should be free and will not (should not) bind you to placing an order.
  5. Don’t forget the packaging – the style and type of box you choose can help lift the overall impact your USB sticks make when you hand them over to your client. Printed or engraved boxes are relatively inexpensive providing they are purchased with your USB sticks so make sure to ask about the available options.
  6. Check our what other photographers are saying about the supplier and their products – there are plenty of 3rd party review sites like Trustpilot that will help you to see what other customers are saying but there are also lots of “private” photography forums and boards where you can ask for advice or just read other threads/posts on this subject.
  7. Take all claims of “A Grade” USB and chips with a pinch of salt – every USB supplier now claims this and they get away with it because they know they are rarely ever challenged and when they are it’s often after an order has been placed and fulfilled. Better to trust what other customers are saying that taking the claims of the supplier at face value.
USB Flash Drive Pacakages from USB2UUSB Flash Drive Packages from USB2U

USB Flash Drive Packages from USB2U

USB Flash Drives for Professional Photographers

USB Flash Drives for Professional Photographers

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3,000 Reviews for USB2U on Trustpilot

Posted by USB2U on 21st April 2015 | Permalink

We’re just about to break through 3,000 reviews on the independent 3rd party review site Trustpilot. To say we’re chuffed would be an understatement. Not only have we amassed these reviews in just a couple of years but our overall our rating is 9.7 (out of a maximum of 10) with a narrative score of “Excellent”.

Understandably not every customer has the time or the inclination to leave a review but for everyone that has we’d like to say a huge “Thank you”. We appreciate you are not compelled to review the service you’ve had from us and we know it takes time to do it which makes it all the more gratifying when customers make the effort to leave a review.

The design, manufacture and supply of promotional USB memory sticks is a highly competitive market so we encourage companies looking to place an order for custom USB’s or USB sticks with their logo printed (or engraved) onto them to look beyond just price and consider the overall level of service provided by the company that you’ve got a quote from. It’s all well and good shaving a couple of pennies off the price of our sticks but if the service you get is poor and the end products are poorly produced it’s your brand and reputation that will suffer because it’s your brand is printed on the USB sticks.

At USB2U we have always focused on providing a top quality service coupled with highly competitive prices. We’ve been supplying USB sticks since 2003, we know the market incredibly well and we know what products work with what types of brands and logos. Ours is a consultative approach where we work with our customers to really understand their needs, we then make a recommendations based on these and we work up a range of designs/mock-ups to illustrate what can be achieved. Tweaking and amending artwork is not a problem, handling the data-loading of files is just part of what we do and keeping our customer informed throughout the whole process right up until we deliver the finished job is fundamental to what we do.

If you’re looking for a trusted and proven UK supplier of promotional USB memory sticks then we hope you’ll give us a chance to work with you. Hopefully, if you like what we’ll do you’ll join the other 3,000 customers and post a review of our service on Trustpilot.

USB2U and relax

Choose USB2U and Relax -you’re in safe hands!

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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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Reviews of USB2U Push Towards 3,000 on Trustpilot

Posted by USB2U on 31st March 2015 | Permalink

Confidence is one of the key factors when you’re buying from a company that you deal with over the Internet. Confidence that you’re in safe hands, confidence that you’ll actually get what you ordered and in time for when you need them and confidence that should things go wrong (as they occasionally do) that the company is able and willing to front up and deal with the issues.

Of course it’s not unheard of for companies to exaggerate claims about their capabilities to stretch the truth a little or to flat out lie about what the quality of what they are selling and to avoid dealing with any post sales issues or queries that might arise.

In an age when a great looking website can be thrown up in a matter of hours/days its relatively easy for anyone to claim they are the “greatest” supplier, that they have “thousands of satisfied customers” and that they can deliver top quality products in a matter of days. But, should you trust everything you read on a companies own website and take it as fact?

Printed Twister USB Sticks

Printed Twister USB Sticks

Before you place any order for promotional products (like branded USB memory sticks) that are going to carry your brand and logo on them we’d strongly advocate that you try and validate some of the comments claimed on the companies website that you plan to buy from. It’s one thing having a bad Internet shopping experience when you’re buying something for yourself but trusting your company’s brand and reputation to a 3rd party based purely on what they say about themselves is to put it mildly “a little risky”.

The Internet not only enables the little start up companies to compete with the bigger boys BUT more fundamentally it gives a strong voice to customers to share their shopping experiences (good and bad) with other prospective customers. Just as you’d use a site like Trip Advisor to review a hotel or holiday company before you make a booking we’d strongly advocate using 3rd party review sites like Trustpilot to see what customers are saying about suppliers of products like branded USB memory sticks.

Arguably such review sites (providing there is a critical mass of reviews and providing they are recent) are a safer way to gauge the capabilities of a company to deliver against their promises.

At USB2U we strongly encourage all of our customers to review the service they’ve received from us on Trustpilot. We already have around 2,9000 reviews and we expect to smash through 3,000 reviews in the next couple of weeks. So, if you’re thinking of ordering your branded flash drives from us then don’t just take our word for how good our service is check out what thousands of customers are saying – we’re currently ranked as “Excellent” with a trust score of 9.7 out of 10.

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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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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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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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