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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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Crystal USB Memory Sticks – Wow these are Amazing

Posted by USB2U on 14th August 2015 | Permalink

Over the 13 years that we’ve been selling promotional USB Memory Sticks we’ve seen some absolutely great examples of them but after a while you tend to become a little blasé about new models being brought to the market.

When you’ve handled tens of thousands of customer orders and supplied millions of promotional USB sticks it’s difficult to get excited but, every now and then, something really special grabs our attention and gives us goose bumps!

The product in question is the Crystal USB stick but not the standard version. No, our skilled and creative design and print team have taken this core product and blended it with our in-house design and printing capabilities to produce a truly stunning promotional USB memory stick – check out the image below!

Crystal USB Memory Sticks - Amazing

Crystal USB Memory Sticks – Amazing

What you’re seeing is a basic (clear) Crystal model that has been given a full colour print but the print has been applied in a way that retains some of the translucence of the original. When you use the technique to mimic something like a full bottle of perfume the results are stunning. Trust us, in the flesh the Channel perfume bottle looks like it really is a bottle of perfume and it’s the same with the JOOP example.

Now we appreciate not everyone’s product, logo or artwork is going to work with this particular product but if you do have something you want to promote and you’re product lends itself to this kind of promotional treatment then we would encourage you to let us have a go at producing some mock-ups and samples for you. We don’t charge for this service and there is no commitment to buy from us – we just want to be given the opportunity to show what we can do/produce.

If it sounds like we’re excited about the potential of this Crystal USB stick in the hands of our print team it’s because we’ve never before had such a positive reaction across the company to the launch of a new product. We have lots of samples in stock so if you need to see one “in the flesh” to be convinced then just give us a call or drop an email to one of our friendly and knowledgeable sale team.

Don’t worry about the cost either. Despite how brilliant they look they are only pennies more than our “Classic” range of USB sticks.

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

Posted by USB2U on | 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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5 Reasons to Attend USB2U’s Photography Open Evening

Posted by USB2U on 6th August 2015 | Permalink

At 6.30pm on Wednesday 23rd September 2015, USB2U will open the doors of their new home at Gilt Edged House to professional photographers from around the local area for an evening of networking, knowledge sharing and most importantly – prosecco!

In June, the entire USB2U team uprooted from their humble office in Duston to an impressive premises in Moulton Park, with ample room for growth in print, production and more. USB2U have been trading for almost 13 years now, and we have become the most trusted supplier of Branded USB Memory Sticks to the photographic sector in the UK and worldwide.

USB2U Photographers Open Evening, Weds 23rd Sept 2015

USB2U Invite Professional Photographers to visit their HQ

But there are so many companies out there offering custom USB Sticks, we hear you cry, what makes USB2U so special and why should I come and see them?

Here are just 5 reasons why we think you should come along and say hello:

  1. You get to see what goes on behind the scenes and watch our state of the art equipment in action. Unlike other suppliers who print their memory sticks in the Far East, USB2U print and engrave the vast majority of their Branded USBs and Presentation Boxes right here in the Midlands. We do this to the highest standard, keeping a close eye on quality and delivering unparalleled results. Watching your logo come to life on our laser engraving machines is quite epic and you’ll want to see it for yourself.
  2. You can finally put a face to that name. Whether your Account Manager is Godfrey, Natalie or another member of our friendly sales team, this is the perfect opportunity to get to know who you are ordering your USB sticks with.
  3. You can ask our USB experts about the latest technologies and products. We pride ourselves in having the most knowledgeable staff who know everything there is to know about a USB Memory Stick. Have a technical query about high spec drives or USB3.0? Just ask. Not sure how to create vector artwork? Please shout and we will show you.
  4. You can take advantage of our special offers and discount codes and save yourself some cash. When you run a small business, it’s vital to be savvy about your finances. We’ve been there and know just how important it is. Don’t pay over the odds and make sure you grab yourself a deal.
  5. And finally… Prosecco. Need we say more?!

The Professional Photographers Open Evening is the first event of its kind for USB2U and it is definitely one that we are hoping to continue to run moving forward.  Don’t forget to RSVP. We hope to see you there.

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Is Fiat Chrysler about to order 1.4 Million USB Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 27th July 2015 | Permalink

Just days after Wired magazine revealed that it was possible to hack a Jeep Cherokee via its internet-connected entertainment system and take control of it whilst in motion Fiat Chrysler have announced a recall of 1.4 million vehicles to fix the problem.

Fiat Chrysler has said it was “unaware of any injuries related to software exploitation” but nevertheless they have moved reasonably swiftly to deal with the issue and the subsequent media furor that has followed the story breaking.

The fact that the hackers were able take control of the cars brakes, the throttle and the pretty much everything else in the car (apart from the steering although apparently they could control this as well if the car was put in reverse) demonstrates the severity of the issue and explains why Fiat Chrysler have responded so quickly!

Although defined as a “voluntary recall” most customers won’t have to take the vehicles back to the dealers to get them fixed instead they will be sent a USB Stick with instructions on how to plug it in and upgrade the vehicles software.

Customers who don’t want to wait for Fiat Chrysler to send them a USB Memory Stick with the patched software on can instead download the upgrade and transfer it to their own flash drive and plug this into the vehicle.

With around 1.4 million vehicles affected (most manufactured between 2013 -2015) the upgrade is going to be a huge challenge. Only cars in the USA using the company’s uConnect wireless systems are affected.

If Fiat Chrysler, as seems likely, take the decision to proactively issue 1.4 million USB memory sticks with the patch pre-loaded onto them, then someone is going to pick up what could be the largest ever single order for memory sticks in the history of the device!

Who would have thought when they were first introduced well over a decade ago that USB sticks would be used to upload new software to cars to prevent hackers taking control of the cars whilst in use! In fact who would have thought a decade ago that we’d be talking about hackers remotely controlling cars (whilst in use on the roads) over public mobile phone networks. It all sounds like the stuff of a science fiction novel but it just demonstrates how scarily fast technology is moving these days.

Twister USB Flash Drives

Twister USB Sticks

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Barclays Customer Data Found on USB Memory Stick

Posted by USB2U on | 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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Agreement Reached on bailout for Greece – USB2U breathes sigh of relief

Posted by USB2U on 13th July 2015 | Permalink

Talk about going to the wire! After another series of all night talk it finally looks as though there is agreement across the eurozone on a way forward.

To quote Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission head “There will be no Grexit” – The financial markets have responded positively, but of course there is still the small matter of the Greece government having to pass the reforms that underpin the agreement by Wednesday. If this happens then whilst it won’t exactly be business as usual at least there will be a way forward and we can all collectively work on restoring something akin to normality.

For us at USB2U this is fabulous news because we have lots of clients in Greece and they have remained loyal to us over the past few years. Many of them are local photographers that take on wedding orientated assignments and come to us because of our range of popular wooden USB sticks and gift boxes but we have plenty of other more general businesses in Greece that we also supply.

Greece Bailout Deal done - no Grexit

Greece Bailout Deal Done – Hooray

Failure to reach agreement wouldn’t necessarily mean we couldn’t or wouldn’t continue to supply our Greek customers but we suspect it would make our prices and payment terms less attractive than they are today. (or have been over the past year or two).

Anyway now there seems consensus on a way forward we’re delighted because it means we can focus on what we do best and that’s working with our customers to deliver a range of amazing branded USB memory sticks – Hooray!

All we need now is for the uncertainty and mild chaos that’s rocking the Chinese Stock markets to abate and we’d be in the happy position of saying stability has been restored! Unfortunately whilst all eyes across europe have been on Greece the bigger potential crisis has been unfolding in China.

Given that all of our USB sticks are manufactured in China (we finish, e.g. print or engrave the majority in the UK but buy the core “blank” sticks from China) it’s critical to us (and our customers) that we can be assured of stability in supply and pricing.

Whilst our partner factory is not directly affected by the lurches in the stock market per se they (and we) do suffer when sentiment moves against China and the exchange rates take a hit. All USB sticks are purchased from the factories in China in US dollars so pricing is directly connected to the international financial markets.

So, whilst the deal for Greece is welcome news we’d be a lot happier if the Chinese markets could follow suit and find some stability.

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No Fake Reviews amongst our 3,000 Reviews on Trustpilot

Posted by USB2U on 19th June 2015 | Permalink

This morning the BBC reported that businesses in the UK are ambushing rivals with fake reviews, that customers are using the threat of leaving a poor review to negotiate a discount and that some review sites are failing to “take live” negative comments to give businesses a chance to resolve the matter rather than suffer a poor review.

Such is the concern about the extent of fake reviews that are now on the internet that The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is to launch an investigation into the burgeoning review industry. It will report it’s finding and recommendations in 2016 but this is serious stuff with firms found to be acting illegally facing stiff fines and their directors possibly facing imprisonment!

The CMA, an important business regulator, said an initial study on the issue had “unearthed evidence that restaurants and other firms were posting fake reviews in sufficient numbers to warrant a formal investigation”. It also found that online reviews greatly influenced more than half of adult when they were shopping online.

At USB2U we sell promotional USB memory sticks. We operate in a highly competitive market and we know that many of prospective customers read reviews before placing their first order with us – why wouldn’t they, it’s common practice when buying over the internet today.

As a business that has been supplying promotional USB memory sticks for well over a decade (with a large number of customers that come back to us time and time again) we pride ourselves on the product(s) we supply and the service we offer. We, perhaps with a touch of arrogance, think our service is what differentiates us from the competition and we want someone, other than us, to promote this message – who better than our customers.

As such we encourage our customers to review us on Trustpilot. We’ve been using this service now for around 4 years and in that time we have accumulated over 3,000 reviews. We have NO control over what customers post, the score they award us, or the “taking live” of any review and nor would we want it.

Trustpilot, an independent 3rd party review service, posts ALL reviews, good or bad. If a negative review is posted (and we’ve had a few and most of them made fair comments) our recourse is to use the feedback as a learning experience and do things differently and better next time around.

We’re not perfect and we’re always learning. The feedback we get not only helps prospective customers but also us a business. Honest, open, and objective feedback is what we want and what we encourage. It’s disappointing that other businesses are apparently manipulating review sites but all we can do is reassure our customers that all of our reviews are genuine, all reviews are posted and all reviews are read and we appreciate the time and trouble customers take to post them.

We welcome the review by the CMA.

Branded USB Memory Sticks

Branded USB Memory Sticks

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