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Chinese Public Holidays – Why it Matters When Buying USB Memory Sticks

Posted by USB2U on 8th April 2013 | Permalink

The majority of Chinese workers live and work in cities, whilst many of their relatives remain in their ancestral towns / villages. With such a vast country, returning home can take many hours, if not days. This coupled with increased prosperity and disposable income has resulted in national holidays taking on greater importance.

The 4th April is the start of ‘Tomb Sweeping’ and is regarded as the most important custom in the Qingming Festival from which the name of Tomb-sweeping day is got. Cleaning the tomb and paying respect to the dead person with offerings are the two important parts of remembering the past relatives. Weeds around the tomb are cleared away and fresh soil is added to show care of the dead. The dead person’s favourite food and wine are taken to sacrifice to them, along with paper resembling money. This is all burned in the hope that the deceased are not lacking food and money.

So why would this impact on Branded USB Memory sticks? In short, the vast majority of Promotional USB Memory sticks are manufactured in the Far East, in particular China. This includes all the component manufacturers such as flash chip suppliers and the assembly / finishing factories.

On the run up to a major holiday, chip manufacturer start to slow and stop production. This in return results in a shortage of supply and increase in prices prior to and for a short period after the holiday.

The leadtime for delivery is also increased as factories and couriers will shut over the holiday period. This delay is compounded by backlogs that are built up at Chinese Customs, which can add several days to the delivery.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Firstly try to order ahead of major holidays (see list below) and if this is not possible look for a provider that holds UK stock of USB Memory Sticks, such as USB2U.

Chinese New Year has passed and the price of USB flash has rocketed. They are starting to stabilise now, but the pattern will continue, so be mindful if you are looking to order branded USB memory stick or frankly any Chinese manufactured products.




USB Clips Making Their Mark

Posted by USB2U on 25th July 2011 | Permalink

The USB Clip flash drive is the newest addition to our Metal product range. This sleek looking USB memory stick hasn’t been available long but it has already attracted a lot of attention and orders.

USB Clip Drive

The Clip USB flash drive is small and neat yet useful and impactful.  Unlike all other USB flash drives the casing of the USB Clip doubles up as the USB connector, which allows the drive to be so compact.  Despite this, the USB flash drive is still available in the standard memory sizes from 512MB to 16GB.  The memory Clip is available in two colour finishes, either gold or silver.  There are also two options for branding the clip drive; the logo can either be printed in up to 4 spot colours for a vibrant look or it can be engraved to give a more professional feel.

Along with the various colour and branding options the clip on the USB drive allows it to have multiple uses.  As the name suggests the drive can be ‘clipped’ onto clothing (seen in the images on the product information page of the flash drive) or it can be used to clip together handouts from a presentation or documents in a report whilst stored with soft copies of the necessary files (suggested in a recent article about presentation handouts).

The Clips popularity has caused us to order a range of samples to send to the customers who’d like to view and feel the quality of this brilliant USB flash drive.  To see more photos of the clip drive and to read a little more in detail visit the USB Clip information page and to view the complete metal range of USB memory sticks visit the product range page.


USB2U Gear Up To Enter Germany

Posted by USB2U on 18th August 2010 | Permalink

Such has been the success of USB2U in the UK over the last 8 years that we are now rolling out an European expansion program starting in Germany.  Since 2002 we have supplied millions of logo branded USB memory sticks and fully customised (bespoke) flash drives to schools, universities, promotion companies, and businesses large and small.

Although our focus during these 8 years has remained firmly on the UK we have seen significant and unsolicited interest from Europe and the rest of the World in our products and our solutions. Germany is one of the largest markets in Europe for branded USB flash drives and will be the first European market that we focus on.

Our German web site (www.usb2u.de) is already live and our German speaking sales team are on-board and ready to support our customers.

As well as supplying high quality branded USB flash drives on highly competitive terms we also offer free design and mock-ups (using our own in-house design team), custom USB design and fabrication, USB data loading, USB packaging, and the supply of any accessories such as lanyards and keyrings.

We look forward to working with our German based client and partners who in choosing USB2U will join an illustrious group of customers including; BT, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Barclays, HSBC, Coutts, RBS, Orange, BP, Porsche and many many more.


Custom USB – Planes, Trains And Automobiles

Posted by USB2U on 5th August 2010 | Permalink

Bored with the same old style of USB memory sticks? Then why not consider a customised Memory stick. They can be produced in any shape or design, which is totally unique to you.

The transport industry has already woken up to this great opportunity and developed a range of great looking and distinctive USB Memory Sticks.

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles - Custom Memory Sticks

The introduction of new tooling machines has resulted in greater design scope and a dramatic reduction in the set up costs.

So what goes into producing your own Custom USB Memory Stick?

  • The first step is to have an idea of what shape or design you would like for your Custom USB. Ideally provide a photo or drawing of what you are after. The better the initial brief the closer the manufacturer will get to meeting your requirement.
  • From your initial idea a 3D virtual mock up would be produced. It will show the size and shape of the Custom USB Memory stick. This is the stage to make as many changes as you require, as no tooling has yet been produced.
  • Once the 3D drawing has been agreed, moulding tools are manufactured. These are the same tools that will make the final production run, so you can be sure that the sample will be an exact replica of the Custom USB Memory stick you are after.
  • Silicon is mixed with selected colourings and poured into the mould. This is then baked in industrial ovens to set the silicon.
  • The moulding for the Custom USB will normally come in two separate parts that are stuck together with the USB components sandwiched between them.
  • The excess PVC is trimmed and any additional colours added my hand.
  • The sample is complete! This is your chance to ensure it’s what you expected. Ideally you would need to see the physical sample as the tactile nature of the Custom USB is just as important as the aesthetics.
  • Once the sample is approved the same process as above is undertaken for the full production run.

Due to the labour intensive process the typical leadtime is 3-4 weeks.

The only limitation is creativity itself, so don’t follow the crowd and look for something truly unique!


Branded Flash Drives – Prices Fall As Sterling Exchange Rate Recovers

Posted by USB2U on 4th August 2010 | Permalink

There has never been a better time to purchase branded memory sticks. Several factors have come together to make the perfect storm allowing the sharp fall in Branded Memory stick prices. The two primary drivers are a six month high for the UK Pound against the US Dollar and an over capacity of flash memory in the Far East.

The exchange rate has continued to improve given that it hit a 14 month low in May. Since that time, Sterling has risen by more than 11 percent, due especially to the stronger than expected news about the UK economy and the austerity plan put in place by the new government. Investors who bet against the UK Pound have been forced to unwind their deals, which helped to push the UK currency higher.

This has also been helped by the fears that the US economy may not be doing as well as investors had hoped.

Why is this important for the price of branded memory sticks? In short, almost all Flash chips used for Branded Memory sticks are manufactured in the Far East and the US Dollar is the preferred method of payment. Branded Flash Drives are more susceptible to short term currency movements because orders are placed on factories and paid for as customers confirm their requirements. Whilst some forward buying of stock does take place the wide range of styles, colours and memory sizes coupled with the fact that many customers take advantage of pantone colour matching the body of Memory Sticks it is impossible to forward buy too much.

With the improvement in global transportation and the ability to manufacturer and ship within a few days rather than weeks more Branded Flash drives are manufactured to order, hence why currency variation has such as dramatic bearing on price.

There is also a lull in the manufacturer of electronic items, which has reduced the price of flash chip, the core cost for any Branded Memory Stick.

So will this last? Whilst all the underlying factors are improving the currency rates have been so volatile over that past months that it is difficult to predict whether this will continue on an upward trend or in fact fall back again.

What is certain is that the demand for flash will increase over the coming weeks in preparation for the Christmas trading period and this will drive the price of flash up. Especially for 1Gb and 2Gb memory sticks.

So if you are thinking of purchasing Branded Flash Drives, anytime over the coming months, then it may be prudent to secure today’s price as there is no telling how long the perfect storm will last.

Branded Memory Stick


Custom USB Strawberries – Made For Wimbledon

Posted by USB2U on 24th June 2010 | Permalink

Strawberries are one of the most popular soft fruits in the UK and they are synonymous with the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament where around 30,000 kilos are eaten during the course of the Championships (topped off with thousands of litres of cream of course!)

Its not surprising that strawberries are so popular because not only do they taste great but they are a source of natural sugar and provide excellent amounts of vitamin C and potassium both of which are minerals essential in our diet.

Less tasty but nevertheless just as popular are custom USB flash drives and just to illustrate that they can be supplied in any shape you want here’s an example of a tasty looking strawberry that is actually a custom USB flash drive so it would be best to avoid covering these in cream!

Strawberry USB Flash Drives

Strawberry Flash Drives

Of course USB strawberries are not going to be to everyone’s taste but they work just like standard USB flash drives albeit they generate a little more “buzz” and interest when used to promote a product or service. Standard flash drives printed up with a logo are almost as popular as Strawberries at Wimbledon but custom versions are getting more and more popular.

If you’ve got an event, show, conference or press launch and you really want to grab people’s attention and give them something to take away that reminds then of your and you company/product then it’s definitely worth considering a bespoke memory stick. Any design, any product, any shape can be manufactured in 2-D or 3-D and a wide range of materials are available to create the right overall effect.

All that’s needed to start the process is an idea! Once you have this get in touch and our in-house design team will work up some concepts for you and then develop these with you until you’re happy. The next stage is the production of physical samples for your approval and after that the final mass production. Lead times for custom flash drives are understandably a little longer at around 4 weeks but the finished results are definitely worth the wait.

Custom USB Flash Drives

Various Custom USB

Don’t forget to you can pre-load your data onto custom USB flash drives just as you can with any standard drive. So, make sure you have your sales material, your media files, presentation slides and any other data ready to load onto the drives when they arrive. If you don’t want the hassle of having to data load the memory sticks yourself then this can be done by the factory during the manufacturing process (normally free of charge) or the data can be loaded just before they are despatched to your offices.

So, as you sit back in the sunshine and watch the tennis get your thinking cap on and come up with your own ideas for a killer custom flash drive!


Flash Drive Demand Continues in the Face of Difficult Market Conditions

Posted by USB2U on 23rd March 2010 | Permalink

Despite the current price volatility in the memory stick market their popularity as promotional giveaways continues unabated. The current weakness of Sterling (GBP) against the US Dollar has pushed prices back up a little but hopefully once the uncertainty of the UK General Election is behind us things will settle down and prices will fall again.

Whilst demand for branded memory sticks is not completely immune to pricing, orders continue to be strong with demand for bespoke and custom flash drives seeing a noticeable increase.

Market Conditions USB

The forecast for the remainder of 2010 is that prices of the core components that make up the memory sticks (the flash modules and PCB’s) will remain largely unchanged albeit the usual season peak in the run-up to Christmas will no doubt happen as it does every year.

The one real unknown is what will happen in the currency markets. Some analysts and speculators are suggesting that the pound (GBP) has now “bottomed out” and that there will be a slow but steady strengthening throughout the rest of the year.  But conversely others are predicting a rocky few months as the UK heads towards and comes out of the General Election.

Underpinning the demand for branded memory sticks is the realisation that not only do they make an excellent and popular giveaway but used properly they can also help to reduce other print, production and transportation costs. By pre-loading the memory sticks with sales brochures, price lists, presentations, media files and so on companies are now reducing significantly the amount of printed media they produce and take with them to trade shows, exhibitions and conferences. When these cost saving are offset against the purchase cost of the memory sticks (including the data loading) the business case for their purchase is pretty compelling.

The other major benefits that drive the popularity of memory sticks are:

  • High perceived value
  • Handy and easy to use
  • Large range of designs and styles
  • Great brand ambassadors
  • High levels of repeat usage
  • Easy to store and distribute

If you’re looking to buy branded memory sticks in the short term for your company then, given the current volatility in the market, make sure you shop around for the best all inclusive deal and lock in the price for as long as possible.


Are Branded Memory Sticks Too Expensive

Posted by USB2U on 2nd March 2010 | Permalink

With marketing and advertising costs being tightened its incredibly important to make sure that the budget you do have to play with works incredibly hard for you. Some people see memory sticks as just too gimmicky, a little over-rated and expensive, particularly when judged against more traditional promotional items. To be fair it depends what you’re trying to achieve and perhaps even more importantly who you target audience is.

If you simply want some promotional give-aways for a large consumer show or you’re looking to raise the general awareness of your brand/product then memory sticks might not be right for you. Equally, if your target audience are unlikely to have access to PC’s or have any little or no requirement for portable data storage solutions then memory sticks are unlikely to be appropriate.

Red Probe USB Flash Drive

Even the cheapest 64Mb branded memory stick is going to be quite a bit more expensive than a branded key-ring, a pen with a logo printed on or a packet of sweets or mints with your company name on. These small gestures/tokens are great to have on a stand to hand out en-masse, they will help to draw people to your stand and they’ll engender some basic form of recall and association with your company but memory sticks are in a different league.

If you’ve targeting business clients, partners, and journalists or perhaps you sell high value products to high net worth individuals then branded memory sticks should be on your list of candidate promotional items. Pretty much anyone who uses a PC will be familiar with the benefits of a USB memory stick and will be delighted to be given one (particularly free of charge)!

Leather Boss Flash Drive w/Metal Tin

The real beauty of a memory stick is that you can pre-load the stick with your sales data, your price lists, links to your web site, media files (videos, music etc) and you can even protect this data and/or make it run automatically when the memory stick is used. Whilst you could argue you could achieve the same results with a CD or DVD the reality is these CD/DVD’s rarely get used/played and more likely will end up in the bin. On the other hand flash drives offer real convenience to the user so they have an incentive to use them. As such the content is far more likely to be read and viewed and because memory sticks can be carried around easily on a lanyard or key-ring your brand will get on-going exposure.

In the context of the additional value memory sticks deliver they are not expensive but they need to be purchased for the right event/audience. If you do pre-load data onto the memory sticks instead of printing catalogues, brochures, press releases etc. you can save yourself a small fortune and make life easier for yourself in terms of transportation and storage. Used smartly printed memory sticks will pay for themselves in a way in which an inert cap or mug simply can’t.


Branded USB Memory – Tip 2. The Hidden Dangers Of Autoruns

Posted by USB2U on 15th February 2010 | Permalink

In the second of the series of top tips to consider when purchasing Branded USB Memory Sticks, we explore whether autorun make good business sense when set against the hidden pitfalls!

Many clients are faced with the dilemma of whether they should add an autorun facility to their Branded USB Memory Sticks.

An autorun facility allows users to insert a Branded Memory Stick and for the computer to automatically run a programme e.g. a movie file.

USB Dataload

The advantages of this facility is that it ensures the user is presented with the information the client wants them to see, without having to find the information themselves. This makes is a very intuitive process and ensures the information on the USB Memory Stick is delivered. However there are some hidden pitfalls:

  • Autoruns will not work on Win 98 or 2000 operating systems – beware there are still many users out there with these systems. You will also need to ensure that the appropriate code is written into any autorun for it to work on Mac operating systems.
  • Some corporate firewalls restrict autoruns, so the danger is that the end user will never see the data.
  • Nuisance factor. If one of the objectives is to ensure that the USB Branded Memory Stick is a keepsake that the end user will access on a regular basis then its worth bearing in mind that every time the user wants to access or save a document they will have to run through the dataload programme. Fine for the first few times, but thereafter they may find this an irritation and relegate the memory stick deep into a draw!

There is a middle way, why not consider loading the data onto the Branded USB Memory Stick with an icon labelled ‘Click Here To Start’ and allow the user to access the data when they want.  This data can be protected so it would not be deleted, but overcomes may of the issues detailed above.

If this is not an option, then it is highly recommended to produce a pre-production sample of the autorun. In this way you or your client can test the autorun in the environment it would be used. You do not need to have the final data file to complete this exercise.

Another option would be to load the same data as a non-autorun file on the unprotected part of the Branded Memory stick. In this way, if the autorun fails to work, the user still has the option to select information manually.

There is no doubt that autoruns are a great method to deliver information, but ensure you and/or your client are aware of the pitfalls and try to build in a safety net, as once produced it is extremely difficult to reload the data without returning to the manufacturing plant, which is usually based in China.

View Tip 1. Here.


If You’re Buying Branded USB Memory Sticks Take 5 Minutes to Read This

Posted by USB2U on 11th February 2010 | Permalink

Its no exaggeration to say that USB memory sticks are now incredibly popular to the point where they have replaced CD’s and DVD’s as the way to backup personal data and carry it from place to place. Their popularity is driven by their ease of use, their portability and their relatively low cost. Its not uncommon for people to have multiple flash drives with one for work and one for personal data and of course they tend to get replaced/upgraded every year or so to the “latest” model or just a version with more  storage capacity.

Branded Memory Sticks - Click to enlarge

The growing dominance of the once humble USB memory stick is something the promotion and advertising sector spotted early on. Think about it, its rare to attend a conference, show or seminar and not have been offered at least one promotional memory stick. The reason is understandable – not only are they incredibly popular but they are an excellent way to distributing sales material, links to web sites, media files, presentation slides and lots more besides.

Of course in accepting a branded memory sticks (often pre-loaded with data) you are complicit in the on-going promotion of the “givers” brand beyond the event. It is though a real “win win” for both parties because the giver gets great brand exposure and brand association with a highly regarded product whilst the recipient gets something truly useful rather than a cheap/tacky gift that will be discarded quickly.

branded memory sticks

But, a word of warning before you rush to buy branded memory sticks; there are a number of important factors that you must consider:

Am I getting A Grade (new not recycled) Memory Chips?

In the world of flash memory chips not all chips are equal and it’s not just the memory size that is the differentiator. Flash memory chips provide the storage capability inside a USB flash drive and these memory chips are graded by the industry. Only “Grade A” flash memory chips are new and provide certified transfer speeds and guarantee access to the full amount of advertised memory on the chip. Other grades are likely to have failed the factory QA process or will have been salvaged from other products. The consequence of using or buying anything other than Grade A chips is likely to be seen in terms of high failure rates, slow/read write speeds and an inability to access or use all of the claimed memory.

Before you order your memory sticks make sure you are getting new Grade A flash memory chips in your memory sticks and choose a supplier you can trust. Its very difficult to spot the use of cheap chips from a visual inspection of the delivered goods. expected and its possible you’ll overpay for what you’re getting. Always check with your supplier that they are using Grade A memory chips

Should I order USB 1.x, USB 2.0 or event the new USB 3.0 and does it matter.

In short make sure you order USB High Speed version 2.0 memory sticks. Anything using USB 1.1 is old and slow and whilst version 3.0 might be tempting because its new you’ll pay a huge premium for USB 3.0 and its not necessary.  Whilst you might get USB 1x versions at a bargain price anyone you give them to will quickly get frustrated with the slow transfer speeds and abandon them.

RoHS Compliance – You need to understand what this is.

RoHS or the Restriction of Hazardous Substances to give it its long hand  applies to thousands of electrical and computer components imported into the EU. The RoHS legislation is designed to protect the citizens of the EU against hazardous chemicals and substances and its legislation that you and your supplier must comply with. If you are found to have imported non-RoHS compliant products into the EU then you have no defence by arguing that your supplier was to blame. You are collectively responsible and the fines for non-compliance are significant. Before you order anything ensure you ask your supplier about RoHS compliance and if necessary get copies of RoHS certificates.

WEEE Compliance – Educate yourself about what it means to you

The WEEE directive was implemented to encourage reuse and recycling. The Directive states that 65% of all IT kit must be recycled. Some items like old monitors, PCBs (printed circuit boards), computers and batteries should be treated before disposal. It might surprise you but the small, humble USB memory stick falls into this category. As such you ought to advise anyone you give the branded memory sticks to of their obligation under this directive. Failure could result in prosecution.

Choose a reputable supplier who you can trust and who can demonstrate a proven track record.

There are lots of companies springing up (many operating from back bedrooms) that will offer to supply you with branded USB memory sticks and custom flash drives. Whilst their prices may look attractive the above points demonstrate that there is more to buying memory sticks than just price. Choose the wrong supplier and you could get more than you bargained for. You have a corporate responsibility to understand your obligations and to ensure you comply. Ignorance is not a defence.

A reputable supplier will understand the issues and compliance requirements. They will be able to provide you with copies of RoHS and WEEE certificates should you want them for reassurance. Branded memory sticks are fantastic promotional products but just like anything else you buy the better informed you are the better placed you will be to secure not only a great commercial deal but a deal a deal that does not come back an “bite you in the bum”