Posted by USB2U on 16th January 2018 | Permalink
A question we get asked quite a lot here at USB2U from our repeat customers is why the price of their branded USB sticks has changed since they last ordered? A valid question that I think we need to address. As hard as it is to believe we don’t actually enjoy charging our customers more for their USBs when cost prices go up, especially when they have used us as their trusted promotional supplier over so many years.
Unfortunately, it all comes down to the way flash drives are manufactured and how the supply chain effectively operates. Below, we’ll go through just some of the challenges that we as a company face when it comes to pricing our USBs on a daily basis.
How are Flash Drives made?
All modern flash drives will start out life on what is called a Silicon Wafer, a thin, delicate structure designed for integrated circuits that are found in flash drives, computers and even mobile phones.
FACT: Silicon is the most common semi-conductor on Earth and the most widely used in the electronic and technology sector.
Each Silicon Wafer is designed to be broken into multiple pieces for use in a variety of different components including USB drives. Many pieces will be serialised and can be stacked together to create 3D integrated circuits which are more complex and offer a greater level of density. Larger memory size USBs will inherently contain more wafer layers inside of them.
In general, the silicon wafer will be used to create NAND chips. Such chips are non-volatile meaning they do not require a constant power supply to preserve the data stored onto them, making them ideal for flash memory devices.
NAND chips are manufactured specifically in fabrication plants or ‘fabs’ for short. Only a small number of these factories exist in the world, and therefore have direct control over the overall supply and, more importantly, the day-to-day market price. The majority of these factories are located in China, however, some facilities also exist in Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea.
These chips are considered to be a critical component in a number of electronic devices, not just USB sticks. Modern computers, smartphones, and tablets all have NAND chips within them, thus all companies in these markets will inevitably purchase from the same supply chain. This, of course, creates problems if demand increases or there are issues in other market sectors as these will have a knock-on effect on supply and ultimately, market price.
NAND Chip Demand Issues
The smartphone market, in particular, is notorious for causing supply chain issues.
Big tech companies with large buying power such as Samsung and Apple will often purchase huge quantities of NAND chips for use in the production of their latest smartphones.
This therefore significantly reduces the overall supply available in the market which causes the price to subsequently rise for everyone else looking to buy, including us!
While it has gotten easier over the years for factories to cope with such large orders, new tech products are being created all the time with many subsequently requiring flash memory to function.
NAND Chip Supply Issues
It’s not just demand issues which can affect the price of USBs, it can also be supply based as well. The most expensive times to buy USB Flash Drives are February/March and September/October time where China observe their own national holidays.
You may have heard us before talking about how it’s important to order USBs before the Chinese New Year and Golden Week, well the reason for this is that production factories including ‘fabs’ close for up to 2-3 weeks over these periods. This causes a rise in demand, due to a shortage in production, which in turn leads to prices sharply rising. We ourselves have seen an increase in cost-price from 30p to anywhere up to £1.20 per unit before, during these periods.
Because only a small number of factories exist in the world if only a few of them close for just a few days, the price of the chips would likely go up. This was very much the case back in 2011 when Japan was hit with an earthquake and tsunami causing many factories to close, which consequently halted production of NAND chips out of the country for several days and ultimately led to prices increasing.
Exchange Rate Fluctuations
Exchange rate fluctuations in general cause headaches for many businesses out there who buy from abroad. When it comes to buying NAND flash the issue is no different. Many companies, including ourselves, have to purchase these chips using US$ dollars and convert back into £’s. If the exchange rate is unfavourable between the two the overall cost price will inherently increase. This has been most apparent in recent years due to Brexit where the £ substantially depreciated against the $ and therefore we as a company ended up paying substantially more for flash drives. Even today the £’s value hasn’t quite reached the same level as it was before the referendum, therefore those who haven’t ordered from us in a while may see a noticeable increase in the price of their branded USB sticks.
Things to keep in mind when you next order USBs
NAND chips could be considered a tech commodity as their price is always determined by current supply and demand similar to that of Gold and Oil. There are times of year where prices will tend to rise and also times where they will go down, it’s always worth having a little look to see what is happening in the sector.
If you’re looking to purchase large quantities of USBs the following tips may be able to help you determine when best to buy:
- Look to order before February and September to avoid the closure of factories in China and the price rises that follow.
- Watch out for tech news especially related to new/upcoming product launches by large companies. These should give you an indication that the price of USB flash memory is set to increase.
What we can do at our end…
USB2U has become quite adept over the years of being able to predict when price rises are expected and will always try and order stock in advance. This means we can hold a variety of USBs in our own UK stock which helps to reduce some of the price volatility experienced.
Like any other commodity however, there is still an unpredictability to ordering at any time of year as prices can change daily, this is why our quotes are only usually valid for a limited time.
USB2U Guarantee and Promotional Tech
Our dedicated team will always do their best to get you the best price possible on your promotional USBs. Often we will look at several supplier options before coming back to you with a quote ensuring we try and obtain the best possible price.
Even if you find a cheaper supplier elsewhere, it is always best to check with us, as in most cases we will able to price match a like-for-like quote.
If you’re still not satisfied with the price quoted for your USBs why not take a look at some of our other promotional tech products including Power Banks, Speakers and Headphones to name a few!
Contact our sales staff at +44 (0)1604 684 811 or [email protected]. Alternatively, you can also visit our website to see the full range of products on offer.
Posted by USB2U on 7th September 2016 | Permalink
September is here, the evenings are drawing in and the summer wedding season is almost at its peak. Now that the hard work is done (or is just beginning for most professional photographers who have long nights ahead editing!) it’s time to think about how you will package your precious images before presenting them to the lucky newlyweds.
Wedding images look great printed and framed, but it’s impossible to print every single shot for your bride and groom. The solution? Digital. Branded USB sticks are the perfect accessory to your wedding package, offering your married couples the freedom of copying or printing their favourite pictures for family and friends.
But how can you create that ‘wow factor’ with logo branded USB sticks, like you can with a high quality album? It’s simple. Choose a unique style of USB and carefully select a matching box that complements your branding and your clients won’t forget you in a hurry. USB Boxes and other photography packaging solutions are the first thing your clients will see when they receive their images, so make sure you give them a great first impression with quality, luxury packaging.
Pastel Woodland USB and Pastel Box
Here at USB2U we offer a wide range of bespoke, wooden and leather USBs which work brilliantly for weddings and all come with a matching USB box. Following one of the hottest trends for summer weddings this year (pastel colours) we have recently launched a new range of pastel coloured Wooden USB sticks, available in white, baby pink, baby blue, lilac, yellow and teal. What’s more, we now offer these as a bundle with a matching pastel coloured USB box.
Not sure what colour to go for? Call us on 0800 0087079 or email [email protected] to discuss your options.
Posted by USB2U on 22nd July 2015 | Permalink
BabyBond USB Memory Stick
Over the last decade or so we’ve seen USB sticks used for all manner of things, but to be fair the majority that we sell are used for promotional purposes. However, as CD’s and DVD’s become less and less popular we’re seeing USB sticks used as a direct replacement, and the breadth of their use is fascinating. Every day we seem to get enquires from new clients who have a new twist on how they plan to use their USB memory sticks.
For example, companies dealing with blocked drains are the latest to use USB Sticks instead of CD’s and DVD’s – it’s typical of these companies to send a CCTV camera into the drains to carry out a “survey” of the drains before they start digging them up! The subsequent digital “video survey” is then copied onto a USB sticks and supplied to the customer with a quote for the remedial works needed.
Perhaps more interestingly is the adoption of USB sticks by private companies in the medical sector. We’re now seeing companies such as Vista Diagnostics offering private MRI scans using USB memory sticks rather than CD’s/DVD’s to record and supply images of broken bones, torn ligaments and fractures to their clients and clinicians. A digital copy of the MRI scan is taken and then supplied on a USB stick at the end of the assessment. Private medical scans are not as expensive as you might think, and in most cases you can get seen and have your scan done in a couple of days.
Private Ultrasound Scans
Another such example would be Babybond, the UK’s first ISO Quality Endorsed ultrasound provider. They are now offering their 4D Bonding Scan results on a USB Memory Stick, as an addition to the traditional printed images they supply for the proud parents-to-be to take home. 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.
Babybond are strong advocates of the service because they argue that the scans, which provide a combination of still and moving images, promote levels of early mother and child “bonding” that were simply unattainable prior to the introduction of their service.
Both Vista Diagnostics and Babybond give their scan images out on branded memory sticks, which in turn is a point of differentiation and increased brand exposure, and is also likely to be a more popular option with their clients. Also, as more desktop PC manufacturers phase CD/DVD drawers out of new build computers, viewing on a memory stick could be the only option for some clients.
The common thread running through all of these examples is the need to provide “customers” with high quality digital images – if you work in a sector or profession that might benefit from making the move from CD/DVD to USB Sticks then please give us a call. We’d love to hear from you.
Posted by USB2U on 15th June 2015 | Permalink
If you’re buying USB memory sticks with your logo on then one of the primary reasons for buying them will be to promote your company and your brand – if all you wanted to do was hand out USB sticks then you could just as easily buy them without your logo on. Arguably it would be easier (and cheaper) to buy them this way but what would be the point!
Let’s face it if you’re going to spend a minimum of several hundreds of pounds on giveaways (like USB sticks) then you absolutely must get your them branded with your logo. Yes there is a small overhead to arrange this (versus buying blank) and you will pay marginally more for the finished product but promotional gifts like USB sticks are all about brand development and without a brand on them you fail at the first hurdle.
BUT one of the things you will need to consider when you buy promotional USB memory sticks with your logo on is exactly how the logo is applied. Do you opt to have the logo printed or is it better to get the logo engraved or embossed on the sticks.
Printing is usually done in one of two ways:
- Silk Screen printing – using this technique each colour of your logo will be printed individually onto the case of the USB stick (onto which the logo is being applied) with the case often being baked in a small print oven between colours. The baking process tends to be used when metal surfaces are printed on because it hardens and toughens the print and protects it against chipping and scratching. On plastics its typical for a primer or bonding agent to be used.
- Digital UV Print – UV printing is relatively new but its very popular because its allows full colour printing (photo quality) in a single pass using the latest UV printers. There’s a bit like a large photo printer you might use at home but with special UV inks that are dried and hardened by a UV lamp built into the printer. In many cases it’s still necessary to prime and thoroughly clean the USB sticks before they are printed but with care and an experienced operator the results can be stunning.
Whichever method is used the fundamental problem with printing is that over time the image printed will chip and scratch. Once the “bond” the ink forms during the print process is broken then it’s just a matter of time until the complete logo disappears.
Given the primary objective for buying USB sticks with your logo on is the on-going brand exposure you get from them then the quality of the print is a key consideration. Ink almost wiping straight off metal USB sticks is not unheard of!
An alternative is to choose a USB stick that can be engraved or embossed. OK, you’ll lose the ability to have your logo printed in full colour but the logo will last forever!
On the right model of USB stick, engraving looks brilliant. It’s tactile and the amount of detail you can get may surprise you. Both branding options (printing or engraving) have their merits but if you want longevity then it has to be engraving. Still not sure, then just ask for samples before you place any order.
Engraved USB Memory Sticks
Posted by USB2U on 30th January 2014 | Permalink
If you’re as a passionate about photography as we are about promotional USB memory sticks then you need to get yourself tickets to attend The Photography Show. It’s a brand new event and it’s open to anyone with an interest in photography. It’s taking place from 1-4 March 2014 at the NEX Birmingham.
For all details of opening times, how to get tickets and all the latest news on the show be sure to go to The Photography Show website and make sure you also sign up to their Twitter account for the very latest news.
USB2U at The Photography Show
We’ve had some much interest in our branded USB memory sticks and gift boxes that we’re going to be exhibiting at the show – we’re on Stand L1 – come and see us, we’ll have tons of give-aways and loads of show offers running throughout the 4 days the show is on. We’d love to meet you and get your feedback on our products and service.
We’re also running a very special competition every day that will see us giving away over £1,000 worth of our stunning wooden USB memory sticks and
wooden USB gift boxes – entry is open to everyone you just need to call by and enter the prize draw. We’ll post details of the winner at the end of the day on our Facebook and Twitter accounts – be sure to sign up and follow us!
If you can’t wait for the show then take a sneak peak at what we can do on our brand new mini-website. It’s dedicated to photographers and features a range of stunning high specification USB sticks and USB gift boxes. There’s are lots of gorgeous images of actual USB sticks we’re produced for professional photographers (you might even recognise and name or two) and we’ve also put together some discounted “bundles” that might be of interest.
USB2U Photographer offers
More than anything we’ve tried really hard to pull together USB sticks and complimentary gift boxes that we know will appeal to your customers, there’s a strong focus on natural wood, eco-friendly box fillings and solutions that you simply can’t buy on the high street. From the feedback we’re getting we seem to have got the balance about right but we’re interested to hear what you think at the show.
They’re be a few of us there for the 4 days but if you do stop by make sure you have a chat with Bethany – she looks after most of our photographers and her mum is a highly regarded professional photographer so she’s got the industry in her genes!
Posted by USB2U on 21st January 2014 | Permalink
Although there are promising signs of recovery in the business markets at the moment it’s still tough. We might be on the path to economic recovery but we’re by no means there just yet. The UK seems better placed than most with the IMF expected today to announce an upgrade in the UK’s national output from 1.9% to 2.4%. This of course is a “forecast” but nevertheless it does seem to support the general consensus that things are on the turn.
The challenge for any business and it’s particularly true in challenging market conditions, is to continue to drive growth and stimulate sales. Although by no means the complete answer, promotional USB sticks used as part of a wider marketing campaign have been proven to drive brand and product awareness and to lift sales.
Of the millions of promotional and branded USB memory sticks that are given away each year the ones that look the best, create the biggest impact and generate the most positive feedback are either fully customised (bespoke 3D) models or those that are handed out in a good quality printed (or engraved) gift box.
Although everyone seems to love being given a freebie giveaway and USB sticks still rate of the most desired and popular promotional gift (source: BPMA survey 2012 when 45% of those asked said they would prefer to be given a USB stick in preference to any other promotional product) the challenge with so many being given away is to make yours stand out from the crowd. Getting creative with the design and commissioning a unique 3D custom USB is one way of doing this but custom models can take time (typically 4-6 weeks) and they are a little more expensive than “standard” models that are available in just 24hrs.
A less expensive option is to hand out your promotional USB sticks in a printed, engraved or personalised gift box. These come in a wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. Some look better engraved (the small wooden boxes) and some look better printed. At USB2U the box that is the most popular with our customers is our premium white glossy box – it’s popular because it’s white so it works with pretty much any brand, it has a really nice glossy, premium feel to it and it comes with a foam insert that can be laser cut to match any USB stick that it’s supplied with.
We’ve also added a smaller version of the Premium White USB gift box to our range – it’s available from today and we’ll be showcasing it at the forthcoming Photography Show 2014 (held at the NEC from the 1st -4th March).
USB Gift Boxes - Premium White Small
Posted by USB2U on 19th December 2013 | Permalink
A memory stick is a great way to transport data, but all too often they make their way down to the bottom of your pocket or bag, only to be forgotten or replaced. To help avoid losing that important little stick, there are many different options to keep it at hand, as well as funky accessories and packaging to give it an extra va-va-voom!
Lanyards are probably the most popular choice with many of our customers to giveaway with their branded USB sticks. They can be attached securely to the USB drive and placed around the user’s neck – a great idea to avoid losing vital data! And whilst lanyards are typically worn around the neck, it’s not unusual for them to be hanging out of pockets or belt loops, wrapped around as wrist straps or attached to and hanging from many other things! Lanyards can also be branded with your logo or message for extra brand exposure.
Keyrings are also a useful accessory to consider. Like lanyards, they can be attached to the USB drive and in turn attached to a set of keys, meaning you will never be without your memory stick and data! They are available in different sizes and are more robust than lanyards.
Our carabiners are fast becoming a favourite, not least because they ARE the USB, rather than being just an accessory! Available in a range of memory sizes from 1GB-16GB, they can be printed on both sides and give the benefits of being functional and a novelty!
We also sell normal carabiners that can be branded and attach to the hook of different styles of USB stick. They’re great for attaching onto bags or laptop cases.
Engraved Dog Tags
These cute little metal dog tags can be engraved with any message and logo to complement your USB sticks, and why not combine them with a lanyard and/or keyring to make a really stand-out package.
Upgrade Your Gift Box
In addition to our standard white gift boxes, we offer a wide range of packaging options including wooden boxes that look great engraved or printed, top quality white premium gift boxes that look stunning printed and several different versions of tins, with and without windows. All come with custom cut foam to hold your USB sticks in place (our wooden slider boxes come with a fine coconut coir inlay).
Velvet Drawstring Bags
If you want to give a touch of luxury whilst offering an option to keep the USB safe, why not hand them out in one of our little velvet drawstring bags! These are a simple yet elegant option that are popular especially with our wooden range of USB sticks.
All of the above mentioned accessories can be supplied with your order of branded USB memory sticks and are available in different colours, shapes and sizes. If you are not sure about which would suit you best, please contact USB2U where an Account Manager will be happy to discuss your options.
Posted by USB2U on 18th June 2012 | Permalink
The problems in Greece and the consequential fear over the future stability of the Eurozone have done little to help the market for promotional USB memory sticks. Whist stability in this sector is only likely to be of any interest to the relatively small number of companies that operate in it across Europe it is a sector that has seen more than its fair share of price challenges of late.
If you ever wondered why very few companies selling branded USB memory sticks put prices on their web sites forcing you to contact them for a price (which of course not everyone wants to do or has the time or inclination to do) it’s simply because the core costs of the product that dictate the sales price are inextricably linked to the currency exchange markets, the commodity markets and consumer sentiment.
Flash memory (including the flash memory used to make USB memory sticks) is traded as a commodity just like coffee, tea and oil so it is subject to daily price swings as the traders that deal in it judge global market conditions. Prices are fixed in USB dollars ($) so any for companies in the UK any weakness in Sterling (GBP – £) against the USD ($) pushes up the price up and finally seasonal purchasing patterns lead to supply shortfalls and rising prices.
With all of these “fluid” elements coming together companies that sell USB sticks can typically only take the risk of fixing their prices every day and it is simply not practicable to change prices daily on their web sites.
USB Price Fluctuations
Hopefully the decision in yesterday Greece elections to support the pro-bailout parties will help restore some stability to the markets and in particular the currency markets. Nervousness about the situation across the whole of the eurozone and in particular the possibility of Greece voting to leave the EU had pushed the pound (GBP – £) down from around $1.6 a couple of weeks ago to $1.53. This has a direct impact on the cost of branded USB memory sticks which when combined with concerns about future demand (based on market sentiment) has led to further price volatility.
Ironically in the middle of all of this prices for USB sticks with a larger memory capacity have dropped like a stone. Prices for 8GB and 16GB are have fallen by well over 50% in the last couple of months and although there are “mutterings” of the prices going back up it’s unlikely they will ever return to their former highs.
As ever the best advice if you are looking to buying branded USB memory sticks is to speak to a reputable supplier that understand the market dynamics and can offer you some professional advice on when and what to buy.
Posted by USB2U on 18th November 2011 | Permalink
If you’re planning to send out a gift to your customers this Christmas then if you’ve not already got your gifts on order then you need to get your skates on because time is ticking away.
Popular gifts tend to include perennial favourites like diaries, calendars, food hampers and bottles of wine and whilst these are always well received at a time when the economy is struggling it’s getting harder to justify gifts that don’t do more than just get consumed.
Historically diaries and calendars would be relatively easy to justify because by their very nature they are used all year long and the recipient is reminded every time they use them of who gave them the calendar or diary. But, with the continued explosion of smart phones, tablets and PC’s how many people actually use paper based diaries or calendars these days?
Branded USB Memory Sticks for Christmas
An interesting alternative to the more traditional gifts is the USB memory stick – these can be printed with your logo (including a Christmas theme or message), they can be supplied in an attractive gift box and more importantly they can be pre-loaded with data before they are sent out.
The data (files) that can be pre-loaded could include a greeting or Christmas message from you and your colleagues (comprising of an “electronic Christmas card”, a short movie, a recorded message etc.) as well as this you could include information on your products/services. By doing this your Christmas USB sticks become “trojan horse like” – not only do you give your customers a timely gift and “thank you” but you also use the opportunity to remind them of the products and services you sell!
This subtle form of marketing is much easier to justify than requesting a budget to send your customers a box of chocolates or a case of wine and the USB sticks will last significantly longer. Given USB sticks were voted as the most popular promotional gift in a recent BPMA survey there’s also no danger of disappointing the recipient.
The usual lead time for branded USB sticks is around 10 working days so there is still time to get them ordered in time for Christmas but don’t leave it too late because you’ll need to make the last posting date for Christmas delivery.
And, if you do plan to post the USB flash drives out you might want to consider getting Credit Card shaped USB flash drives because these give you a larger space to print your message on, they slip easily into the wallet of the recipient and more importantly because they are only 2mm thick they can be sent out using standard letter post.
Posted by USB2U on 14th November 2011 | Permalink
You’d think sourcing branded USB memory sticks for your business or school would be easy after all there are plenty of companies in the market supplying them. To some degree that’s part of the problem – there are now so many companies competing for your business that the overwhelming choice on offer can bamboozle you!
It’s not just the number of suppliers of branded USB sticks that’s the problem it’s the sheer volume of different styles and types of USB sticks that compounds the problem.
Circle Shaped USB Memory Sticks
Do you choose plastic, metal, leather, credit card shaped or wood? Do you buy sticks with a small(ish) capacity (say 1GB) or do you go for something a little bigger like a 4GB or 8GB? Even when you think you’ve narrowed down your choice to a particular model of USB drive you’ll still have to think about how you want them printed (one side or both) and do you get them printed onto a standard colour or should you ask for the body shell to be pantone matched to a colour that compliments the logo you’re printing on them?
It doesn’t end there either. When you’ve sorted the model, the memory size, the colour and what you’re printing on them you’ll have to think about whether you want them delivered in “bulk”, or in gift boxes (plain or printed) and whether you want any optional extras like key rings or lanyards (neckstraps)!!
Finally you need to give some consideration to the data you’re going to put on them (assuming you are going to load some data on them before you hand them out) – should this data “auto-run” when the stick is plugged in? Should the data be protected so that it cannot be deleted? If it’s sensitive data should you protect it with a password or go the extra mile and encrypt the data as well as protect it?
Straightforward isn’t it? And, even when you’ve got all of this nailed down there is then the small matter of making sure you’ve chosen a supplier that not only delivers but delivers on time and delivers genuine Grade A flash drives. If you end up with a supplier that lets you down on delivery or promises Grade A flash memory products but delivers “masked” sub-standard drives then all of the decision making angst about what to buy, how to print it, how to package it and so on will be wasted.
The best way to reduce the stress levels when buying branded USB memory sticks is to go with a trusted and proven supplier who can add the weight of their expertise to the selection, buying and delivery process.