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 4th January 2018 | Permalink
Over the last decade or so, online selling has expanded to a truly global scale. For USBs, the story is no different with thousands of suppliers now selling flash drives and USB Memory Sticks over the internet day-to-day. While this has made life easier for buyers, there are still things they should be made aware of especially when ordering from outside of the UK.
What should customers look out for when buying from overseas?
Can the seller be trusted? – Customers should always ask themselves whether or not they truly trust the source that they are buying from, do they know someone who has used the seller before perhaps who can vouch for them?
Does the website seem authentic? – While there are plenty of businesses out there with well-built websites and means of communication, not all can be just that. If the content on a website is poorly structured, not clear or translated incorrectly customers should avoid. Always check as well to see if the business is using a secure web address (HTTPS), while there are websites out there that may not use this, individuals should always trust the source they are accessing before proceeding with any purchase or passing over personal information.
Is there a way of getting in touch with the seller? – Is there a listed phone number or email address you can use to contact the business? If so, does it work? – In general, are they putting up barriers to stop you communicating with them?
Talk to someone who may have used the seller before.
Does the website work? Is it safe to use?
Is it easy to communicate with the seller?
At USB2U we have a dedicated phone number, email address and secure website that you can use to communicate with us. As well, we operate from a secure business location that you can easily find via Google Maps. Our 5000+ Trustpilot reviews should also give you a strong indication that we are a trustworthy and honest company.
Why should you buy USBs from a trusted UK supplier?
As a supplier of USB sticks and flash memory, we get told quite often by customers that they can get what looks like ‘our products’ much cheaper from China- this country being the main manufacturer of USB flash memory.
However, whilst USBs ordered from the Far East might look the same, the internal components can vastly differ. We have heard multiple stories from customers who have taken the plunge to purchase directly from China and end up coming back to us and complaining that they have paid in full for an order only to find that they never receive their goods or receive faulty products and afterwards are unable to get their money back. This is part of the risk of buying from a supplier you do not know or can fully trust. There are obviously some genuine suppliers that can offer good quality products, but there are also those that will tend to deliver low-grade products that most likely won’t work, that’s if they even bother to send them out in the first place!
Ordering USBs from an untrusted source could result in faulty or missing goods.
We will regularly go out and meet our Chinese suppliers to ensure they meet the standards expected by our customers.
USB2U has worked hard to develop long-lasting relationships with reputable Chinese factories who offer Grade A chip-sets for our USB products. Regularly we’ll go out and visit the factories in which the products are made to ensure they meet our standards and help us to bridge the communication gap between our customers and suppliers to resolve any issues that have occurred as quickly and efficiently as possible. We also audit them annually and have supplier contracts in place to protect our customers.
Even if the Chinese manufacturer that you are ordering from appears to be reputable and the price of a flash drive is cheaper, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the ordering process will be as straight-forward as it would be if you were to order from a UK supplier. When working with USB2U you have every means to come back to us if you are not happy with the goods, however, it’s very doubtful that the same customer service or processes can be applied to overseas sellers. For the sake of spending that little bit extra, you are affording yourself peace of mind and a hassle-free buying experience.
Below are just a few more reasons why customers should seek to order USBs from a UK supplier such as USB2U, including favourable lead times, regulations and processes.
No issues getting products through customs
Easier returns processes and policies
Faster lead times when ordering UK stock in general
Products conform to EU regulations
Want to find out more about our USB products? Email our friendly sales team who will be happy to help at [email protected] or visit www.usb2u.co.uk
Posted by USB2U on 6th June 2016 | Permalink
The vast majority of branded promotional USB flash drives and Power Banks are manufactured in the Far East, particularly in China. On the run up to any major Chinese holidays the manufacturing process will start to slow down, and eventually stop, which can result in a shortage of supply and increase in prices prior to and for a short period after the holiday. The lead times for deliveries will also increase.
At USB2U we hold a large amount of UK stock of USB memory sticks and Power Banks giving us the opportunity to serve our customers seamlessly even over the Chinese holiday periods. So plan well ahead and place your orders in good time. However if you require a fast turnaround, look no further than your trusted UK supplier USB2U.
The most pressing holiday right now is the Dragon Boat Festival at the end of this week starting on Friday 9th June. With The Chinese New Year (in January 2017) you will need to place your orders by the end of December to ensure that they are despatched in time.
Posted by USB2U on 14th March 2016 | Permalink
USB2U is exhibiting at the popular UK Photography Show at Birmingham NEC again this year. This is the third time we have been part of the show and we are looking forward it kicking off this Saturday!
USB2U offers the most popular USB sticks for professional photographers. Our creative memory stick concepts work particularly well when presented in bundles; these are combinations of memory sticks and stylish presentation boxes suitable for any occasion such as weddings, baby photos, anniversaries and more. They are becoming highly popular amongst modern day Photographers.
The presentation boxes are of high quality and vary from high gloss white presentation boxes to eco-friendly wooden boxes. All of them can be personalised with your logo or special message. Thanks to the large print area on the boxes they can be fully branded and additional design features can also be added in.
Here at USB2U we hold a large amount of stock of USB sticks and boxes in the UK making it possible to print or engrave items in as little as 24 hours. The memory sticks are Grade-A, high specification flash chips offering superior performance.
Be sure not to miss our daily competition
We also have some exciting show offers and competitions not to be missed. Each expo day we will do a prize draw and the winner will receive 10 8GB Woodland USB sticks and Photo Slide Boxes personalised with their logo. So four chances to win! The winners will be announced at the end of each exhibition day on Twitter and and on Facebook.
Posted by USB2U on 11th February 2016 | Permalink
If, like us, you care about the planet, then you’ll be glad to know we supply a range of memory sticks that are certified as eco-friendly (and come with certificates for authentication). With more and wooded areas needing to be protected from felling, it is obvious that we all need to play our parts in protecting the world we live in, and our range of eco-friendly USB sticks enables us to do just that!
The range encompasses 5 of our most popular designs; the Contour, the Twister, the Harbour, the Probe and the Bamboo range (which in particular is very popular with photographers) and can be supplied in any colour. Whilst the components inside are still high quality including Grade A flash memory chips, the cases are made from recycled materials.
True eco-warriors, our Eco range of flash drives are made from recycled plastic and rubber, and as such have a great texturised feel to them. These are available in 4 standard colours “off the shelf”, (red, blue, white and black) but can be customised for any colour you wish.
By far our most popular range of USB sticks, these are available from our UK stock in a wide range of colours including red, pink, blue and purple and can be engraved or printed. As with the Contour range, these are eco-friendly and with the handy clip and no cap to lose, what are you waiting for!
The shiny slick Harbour range is third in our eco-friendly range and come with free gift boxes. These can also be pantone matched on the colour trim and can be both printed or engraved. The Harbour was our first memory stick and we hold it in the highest regard – and so will your customers!
Our Probe range are very versatile even with the eco-friendly certificate (see – there’s no reason not to buy them), as the cap and the body can be mix and matched in different colours, although of course we do also hold UK stock in a range of solid colours including yellow and blue. It’s also available in both a gloss or matt finish, which really gives you a range of options to choose from!
Bamboo in itself is an environmentally friendly and sustainable material as it grows and spreads extremely quickly, meaning that it can yield up to 20 times more timber than trees living in the same area. It also releases 35% more oxygen into the air than trees do, with a lifecycle of 7 years to mature and be replanted – the average tree takes between 30-50 years to do this! Our range of bamboo USBs can be colour printed or laser engraved and come with a magnetic snap that holds the lid in place.
Whichever range of eco-friendly USB stick you choose, we can supply them in a range of memory sizes from 64MB up to 16GB, and offer a Rush 24 hour turnaround service if you’re really in need! Never fear, USB2U are here!
Posted by USB2U on 9th September 2015 | Permalink
Could you be the next James Dyson or Richard Branson. Have you got an urge to design and build your own products or perhaps you’re happier dreaming up creative ways to market and sell your product ideas. Perhaps you hanker after trying out your ideas on sites like Kickstarter and trying to raise some financial backing – with the emergence of the Internet there are now loads of way to get your ideas supported.
At many schools in the UK you’ll be given the chance during your Design and Technology classes to come up with a new product idea – you’ll be challenged to design something, produce a prototype, think about the manufacturing challenges, think about your target customer(s), think about how you’ll brand it, market it, sell in and hopefully make money from it. Think of it as a Dragon’s Den for the classroom!
If you’re struggling for ideas (and lots of people do) then you might want to think of designing and building your own custom USB memory sticks? It’s easier than you might think, it’s great fun and there are lots of different creative ways to use these familiar products. USB sticks are commonly used as promotional give-aways but they are also used to load baby 3D and 4D scans onto, to load MRI scans on, to record track day data on at places like Silverstone, to market new housing developments – the list goes on and one!
A very simple idea is to just design a USB stick to be sold at your school but rather than just buying standard factory designed USB flash drives and printing your school crest or logo one why not get the sticks made in a design unique to the school. Anything is possible and some great results can be achieved relatively easily because if you can get your hands on the core components its really just an assembly job.
Inside most USB Memory Sticks are three core components; a memory module, a controller chip and a capacitor – these are typically pre-assembled onto a Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and connected to a USB interface. The PCB can then be embedded into any outer casing to create a unique USB flash drive. Just like any commercially available (and assembled) USB flash drive you can buy the PCB’s in a range of memory capacities starting at 128MB all the way up to 32GB.
If you fancy having a go at building your own USB sticks (perhaps as part of a school project) then we can supply you with all the components you need including any accessories your might want for your finished product including key ring attachments, lanyards and gift-boxes.
We have a minimum order of 50 pieces for the PCB USB’s so if you did want to get a project off the ground and you’re not a school or company then get your entrepreneurial hat on and start raising the capital you need.
Build Your Own USB Stick
Posted by USB2U on 8th May 2015 | Permalink
The votes are in and they’ve been counted and audited and we’re finally able to announce that the most popular promotional USB memory stick is the Twister!
It was a secret ballot; so secret in fact that even we didn’t know it was happening. The methodology we used was simply to look at the thousands of orders we’ve taken in the last 12 months calculated which USB stick had the largest number of orders. We looked at the data in two ways; how many orders were placed for Twisters and how many actual Twister sticks were sold – it was head and shoulders ahead of its nearest rival.
Did the results come as a surprise? No, not really. The Twister USB Stick (also commonly referred to as the Swivel or the Rotate) has been the best selling promotional USB stick of the last decade. Lots of new models have been launched and have tried to challenge its dominance during this period and whilst some have survived and are still bought in reasonable numbers none have come close to the sales of the humble Twister.
Its popularity is down to a number of very simple things; it’s relatively small, it has no cap to lose, it comes in hundreds of different colours and it’s easy to use. The fact that it sells in the millions means that its cheap (well, cheaper than some of the other models) and easy to get hold of – pretty much anyone who sells promotional USB memory sticks will carry the Twister. They’d be daft not to.
Promotional USB Twister Flash Drives
Ironically there are lots of other flash drives with a larger print area to work with, plenty are also smaller and of course there are others that also don’t have a cap to lose but for some reason the basic Twister model has seen them all off and remains the favourite.
At USB2U we always carry the Twister in stock in the UK and its typically available in a range of different colours and memory sizes. We offer it as part of our “rush” service which means we can get them to any customer (printed and data-loaded) in as little as 24hrs – less if you can collect them from our Northampton office.
We also offer engraved versions of the Twister – we simply change the “clip” the section that rotates or “twists” (hence the name) and replace the standard silver clip with a coloured anodised clip that we can engrave. Some customers prefer these because there is no chance of the engraved logo rubbing off over time.
The reality is we didn’t need any pollsters, or market research to tell us what the winner would be – we knew, almost instinctively that the Twister would still be crowned the winner of our popularity charts. Long may its reign continue.
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
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Packages from USB2U
USB Flash Drives for Professional Photographers
Posted by USB2U on 17th April 2015 | Permalink
If you’ve been meaning to order some USB memory sticks with your logo printed on them this week but other things kept getting in the way then don’t despair because at USB2U we can turn around orders on the same day!
With thousands of blank USB memory sticks in stock (across a wide range of designs and colours) and our own in-house design and print teams we are one of the very few companies in Europe that can accept an order in the morning, proof it, print it and then dispatch it the very same day. So, as today is a Friday you could order your printed USB memory sticks this morning and have them delivered Monday morning (we could even get them to you for Saturday if you’re around to take delivery of them!)
You’ll pay a small premium for our “rush” service but if you really do need you sticks quickly then it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. By
getting your USB sticks designed and printed in the UK you de-risk everything. There will be no exposure to international shipping delays, no exposure to ordering from an overseas company only to find your money is taken and nothing turns up and of course by buying locally if things do go wrong (as they very occasionally do) then getting a resolution is much easier.
At USB2U we design and print tens of thousands of USB sticks in the UK every week. Over the last 4-5 years we have invested heavily in our in-house design and print capabilities and the response from our customers to the range of rush services we offer has been amazing. A significant number of the 5 star reviews we get on Trustpilot (a 3rd party review service) relate to “rush” orders and as much as anything its because customers are blown away by the quality of their orders, the service they get and the sheer speed at which we deliver their order.
What marks us out from our competitors is the range of stock we carry and can print. Lots of companies offer a standard black twister flash drive but these don’t always work with the logo being printed on them and they can to be candid look a bit bland and boring. We can typically offer at least 20 different designs and we also offer the option of printed boxes to go with them (all in the same timescales).
Have a great Friday and remember if you need your promotional USB memory sticks on Monday then give us a call.
USB Flash Drives in a Hurry