Posted by USB2U on 1st June 2015 | Permalink
It’s a jungle out there and unless you keep your wits about you it’s very easy to fall prey to the scammers when you buy promotional USB flash drives. The sale of fake or “dodgy” flash drives used to be more common on sites like eBay but more recently the fraudsters have realised it’s easier to make money by selling them in volume to unsuspecting corporate buyers.
The biggest risk you take is buying your USB sticks from an overseas seller and more specifically a seller based in China. The fundamental problem is that you won’t know what you’re buying until your goods arrive (by which time you’ll have paid for them) and if you end up with shoddy or fake goods then there are very few options to get your money back. If you’re a company and you’re buying the sticks with your logo printed on then you’ll nearly always be asked to send your payment by telegraphic transfer to an account domiciled in China – getting your money back if things go pear shaped is a non-starter.
Whilst the initial email exchanges with the fraudsters can often go well its what’s ultimately delivered that is important. The most common trick employed includes “masking” the flash memory inside the USB stick so that for example a 512MB flash stick looks like an 8GB stick when you plug it into your PC – this is pretty easy to do and you’ll only know you’ve been sold a “pup” when you try and load more than 512MB of data onto the flash drive.
The fraud won’t be that obvious because it will look like your data has transferred fine – it’s only when you take the USB stick out and re-inset it that you’ll realise the data you thought had been transferred is not there!
Equally if you just look at the “properties” of the flash drive when its plugged into your PC (or Mac) it will say it’s an 8GB drive but it reality its only a 512MB that has been “masked”.
The other thing to watch out for (but again not easy to spot) is the use of recycled and/or reclaimed flash memory chips. These will have very slow read/write speeds and they might only work a few times. So what might look like a bargain 8GB flash drive could well turn out to be a recycled, slow 1GB flash drive that’s only going to last a couple of months!
Of course all of this is really bad news and it’s even worse if the USB sticks carry your company’s logo on them! The best way to avoid these issues is to buy your promotional flash drives from a reputable supplier in your own country. Check they have a “real” address and a real phone number so if things do go wrong you can get back in touch with them.
Use the Internet as your friend and check out customer reviews on the company. Don’t just buy on price and price alone particularly if you’re buying from an overseas supplier – it’s tempting but it’s the shortest route to being scammed, losing your money and damaging your brand and reputation.
Choose USB2U and Relax -you’re in safe hands!
Posted by USB2U on 20th March 2014 | Permalink
It’s understandable in today’s economic climate to make sure when you’re buying promotional USB flash drives that you do your research and get the best possible price you can for the flash drives you buy. So cheap is best right? The answer is “not necessarily”.
The problem with just using cheap as the benchmark against which you make your buying decision is that it can mask all manner of other issues and the potential problems of buying “cheap” can include but are not limited to damage to your brand and reputation. Ironically often the exact opposite of what most companies are trying to do when they hand out promotional products.
USB2U for Promotional USB Flash Drives
If all promotional USB memory sticks were manufactured to the same specification and all suppliers took the same degree of care and responsibility in the supply of your order then a decision based on price would be reasonable. But, buying promotional USB flash drives is not, for example, like buying a Samsung TV of a particular model where you know exactly what you’re buying because every reseller is selling exactly the same product and you can read not only the reviews on the product but on the supplier as well!
Instead buying flash drives is a bit like entering a minefield – one wrong step and you could be looking at a very costly mistake.
Why is it so difficult? Well the fundamental problem is that although lots of USB sticks look exactly the same on the outside it’s what is on the inside that is important. Buy cheap and you’re likely to get something that looks pretty good but inside the shell will be cheap components (cheap flash memory, cheap controller chips and a cheap capacitor) that are likely to fail or will have very slow read/write speeds and might even be masked (this is an expression used to describe flash drives that have been “adapted” to make a 128MB chip look like a 4GB chip).
Over the 12 years or so we’ve been selling flash drives we’ve heard our fair share of horror stories and our advice is simple:
- Buy local because at least this way you can check out the supplier, you can read reviews on their service, you can spend a couple of £ and find out who’s behind the company and if things do go wrong then at least you have some recourse in law (in a jurisdiction you are familiar with).
- Get some assurance from your supplier on the type/quality of the components used inside their USB sticks (get this confirmed on the order as well as just the memory size).
- Read the terms and conditions of supply and ideally don’t part with any money until your USB sticks are ready to ship – if you have a good credit record then ask for payment terms. This way you’ll get your USB sticks before you have to pay for them and you can make sure they are exactly what you were expecting.
- Read the reviews sites and see what other customer are saying about the suppliers you’ve contacted.
- Check the length of any warranty and be clear about the process to invoke any claim under the warranty.
Yes the price is important but so is your brand so make sure you are buying from a supplier that you feel comfortable trusting your brand and your company’s reputation to.
Posted by USB2U on 2nd December 2013 | Permalink
How many of your will be handing out your Christmas gifts this year in the plastic carrier bags you were given by the shop you bought them from? Perhaps you’ll throw the carrier bags away and just leave then (unwrapped) under the Christmas tree or maybe you’ll hand them out (unwrapped) on the day itself – not for you the “frippery” of gift wrap. After all it’s a waste isn’t it and think about the impact on the environment of all the wasted wrapping paper, gift tags and sellotape!
Seriously though wrapping up the gifts and then seeing the pleasure on people’s facing when they first try and guess what they’ve been given and then finally rip off (or in some cases carefully remove) the paper to reveal their gift is one of the biggest parts of Christmas day. It just wouldn’t be the same if the gifts you’d carefully selected were just handed over unwrapped – your family and friends would think you didn’t really care and it would take the edge off the whole “gift giving” experience.
We’ve grown up expecting gifts to gift wrapped and for some degree of thought and effort put into how they are wrapped and presented. It’s not just Christmas either but it’s one of those “rules” that applies to Birthday’s, Wedding’s, Anniversaries and so on – we expect (rightly or wrongly) our gifts to be gift wrapped or at the very least for some level of thought to have been put into how the gift is handed over.
Promotional USB Flash Drives in Gift Boxes
The same basic principles apply if you’re a company that is handing out promotional gifts – yes, there will always be the anti-packaging and pro-environment lobby but the reality is that gifts given out it a gift box or some form of packaging are typically better received. They play into our psyche of expecting a gift to be wrapped and they get a better reception, they engender stronger feelings of “warmth” and they create a stronger emotional bond to the brand of the company that is giving away the gift. Considering that the cost of a decent gift box or gift wrapping will only a small amount to the overall cost of giving the gift then its money well spent.
In the case of promotional USB flash drives (one of the most popular promotional gifts over the past few years) there are lots of packing options including printed gift boxes and printed tins. All of these are supplied with custom foam inserts for the USB flash drives to sit in and all of them really help to raise the impact the USB drives make when they are handed out – judge for yourself from the examples shown on this page!
Promotional USB Flash Drives in Gift Boxes
If you’re looking to giveaway promotional USB Flash Drives for Christmas or anytime for that matter then do think about how you’re going to warp, box or present them – it will make a big difference to how the “gift” is received.
Posted by USB2U on 21st October 2013 | Permalink
It’s not that we’re paranoid or anything but before we send out our customers branded USB memory sticks we like to make sure that everything is exactly as it should be. We want things to be right, we want our customers to be happy with what we send out and we want them to come back and buy from us again.
Lots of suppliers of USB memory sticks pay lip service to a rigorous QA process because it’s what people want to hear but actually implementing a strict QA process is time consuming, costly and of course it can throw up challenges. But, we strongly believe in a robust QA process and we commit resources and time to make sure it’s done and done as thoroughly as we can.
So, in addition to the QA checks that our factory make during the manufacture of our USB sticks our own fulfilment team carry out the following additional checks before any order leaves our hands:
- On arrival in our warehouse in Northampton we carefully unpack every carton to make sure nothing has been damaged in transit from China. Welook for signs of crush damage and water damage (sometimes shipments can get wet when they are waiting to be loaded onto planes).
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 our customer of any potential shortfall or delay to their order.
- We visually check a random number of USB sticks from every order to make sure that it’s the right model, the right memory size, the right colour, that the print or engraving is correct and that any accessories have been included. The same rigour is applied to any gift boxes that have been ordered with the USB sticks.
- We also take random samples from each order and run them against Trend Micro’s latest anti-virus software. This is a check not only to make sure there is no virus on the sticks but we also check any data our customers have supplied us with to make sure this is not infected with a virus. A copy of the virus check results is held on our CRM system.
- Assuming all of the above tests and checks are passed we then carefully re-box every order in a new, robust, USB2U box. As we do this we double check to make sure we are sending out the correct number of USB sticks.
Occasionally, despite all of the above the odd bit of “human error” does creep in but it’s rare and we’re continually looking to improve and refine our procedures to. We record the results of all the checks (and who carried them out) on our internal CRM system and this information is freely available to all of our customers.
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 11 years, Our objective is to ensure that our customers get a quality product, a quality orientated service and that they can be confident of getting exactly what they’re paid for every time.
Promotional USB Flash Drives
Posted by USB2U on 25th February 2013 | Permalink
Sterling has been on the slide for the last couple of weeks and reached a 31-month low against the dollar on Friday. This was before the announcement by Moody’s of it downgrade of the UK from the much coveted AAA rating. Today sterling has continued its slide and it’s a brave man that would predict where things are likely to end up by the end this week.
Whilst a weakened sterling is good news for exports its really bad news for imports. Given all USB flash drives are manufactured in China and traded (paid for) in US dollars it’s particularly bad news for any business or educational body looking to buy printed or engraved USB memory sticks right now.
What makes things worse is that the factories in China that manufacture USB flash drives are just returning from a 2 week Chinese New Year Holiday. This long break creates a build-up in demand which in turn drives up prices. This annual “spike” in demand always drives up prices until things settle down again but this year there is the spectre of a “double whammy” of rising prices and falling currency values – combined the net effect is broadly a 15% increase in USB flash drive prices.
The Chinese New Year effect usually lasts around 4 -6 weeks before prices begin to come down again but an 8% fall in the value of the £ against the $ is unlikely to mean prices will return to where they were just a couple of weeks ago.
If you need to buy your promotional USB flash drives now or in at any time during the next few weeks then brace yourself for higher prices. If you can delay your purchase for even a couple of weeks it’s probably worth doing so.
USB Flash Drive Prices Rise on Back of AAA Rating Downgrade
Posted by USB2U on 23rd May 2012 | Permalink
Everyone’s favourite little storage solution, the USB flash drive, has been with us for over 10 years and its popularity doesn’t look like faltering. Part of the reason for its continued popularity is because manufacturers continue to innovate and introduce new shapes, styles and designs and people continue to find new ways to use them.
Originally USB flash drives were primarily used as personal storage devices; replacements for floppy diskettes, CD’s and more recently DVD’s. The emphasis was on personal storage with most purchases being made by the individual for their own use. The drives were used to store and carry personal files (school and work files) and would typically be nothing more exotic that standard Microsoft office files.
Over the past few years dramatic price falls combined with significant increases in the amount of storage on a “typical” USB flash drive has seen a marked shift in the purchase and usage patterns of the USB drives. Some of the more interesting recent trends include:
Professional Photographers use USB flash drives to distribute client portfolios – the move away from 35mm film to digital image capture has given photographers the opportunity to give their clients not just printed photos but digital copies (files) of the photographs on some form of storage medium. Many photographers that originally used CD’s and DVD’s have now switched to USB flash drives. The move has been driven by a realisation that the drives look more professional, they can be sold in printed gift boxes and engraved or printed with the photographers’ logo and contact details.
Births, Marriages and Deaths celebrated on a USB flash drive – today people’s lives are charted and recorded digitally. Digital 3-D and 4-D images captured during pregnancy scans are now sold on USB sticks, births and marriages are photographed and the resulting images stored of USB flash drives and then distributed amongst family and friends. USB sticks are increasingly being used by the bride and groom as wedding favours (pre-loaded with the story of their relationship) and we’ve even seen USB sticks distributed a funerals (pre-loaded with photographs, scrapbooks, music and video clips) to help the mourners celebrate the life of the deceased.
USB Business Cards
Traditional paper business cards replaced by USB Business cards – rather than continue to hand out paper business cards some companies are now opting to hand out USB business cards. These are the same shape and size as traditional paper cards albeit they’re a little fatter at 2mm thick, but the real benefit of these cards is that they can be pre-loaded with the company’s brochures, presentations, audio files, media files, press releases etc. Not only are they a great innovation but they are a real talking point and by pre-loading them with relevant media they are really cost effective.
Printed Brochures and Catalogues distributed on a USB flash drive – Companies that have historically printed glossy brochures and then distributed them in the post are now increasingly using USB flash drives pre-loaded with electronic copies of the brochure. Not only are the drives more popular with the recipients but they are much cheaper to post.
Flash Drives take the Promotional Gift market by storm – millions of USB flash drives are given away by schools, universities and businesses every year. They are typically pre-printed with a logo, loaded up with data and then given away. The intent is to deliver information on the company, its products and service, to build brand awareness and loyalty and to give the recipient something that has a high perceived value – a printed USB flash drive ticks all of these boxes.
With printed USB flash drives now available from under £2 per unit and with speeds and memory sizes improving all the time it looks as though the future of the humble USB memory sticks is assured for a few more years yet. When the adoption of SuperSpeed USB 3.0 (which delivers a X 10 increase in data transfer speeds) starts to gather pace expect further innovation to underpin continued sales and new directions of use.
Posted by USB2U on 25th April 2012 | Permalink
Whilst some critics are saying they are late to the market the announcement yesterday by Google of their new “Google Drive” service will have competitors like Dropbox and Microsoft (SkyDrive) quaking in their boots. Hanns Kohler-Kruner from tech research firm Gartner has said “Google Drive will hit some competitors very hard and shake up the market,”
The free entry level option gives users 5GB (gigabytes) of storage. Options to increase the amount of storage (up to a maximum of 16TB) have also been launched but at the top end it’ll cost you $799.99. A more realistic 100GB of storage is available at $4.99 per month which compares favourably to Dropbox who currently charge $25 per month for a similar amount of storage.
Essentially Google Drive is a “Cloud based” storage solution that will allow users to upload and download data (files, pictures, videos, etc.) from their PC or Mac, their mobile phone or tablet. Android phones are supported from the get go and an update is expected within weeks to support iPhones.
With Google now entering the market will people still use or want portable storage options like USB Flash Drives? After all, why pay for a small USB stick that you might lose or break when you can simply upload your data safely and securely to a cloud based storage option like Google Drive. Not only that but whether you use Google, Dropbox or Microsoft you’ll expect your data to be accessible wherever you are and without any worries of it ever being lost or corrupted. With such compelling arguments why would you buy/use a USB flash drive?
Well for some people handing over their precious/sensitive data to Google and entrusting them to keep it secure is a “non-starter”. Worries of who will have access to the data, vulnerability to hacking and just general paranoia about not being able to “physically hold it” mean the solution is not going to be for everyone. But, for your average home user/student, particularly those with the latest smartphones and a Gmail accounts, an integrated Google solution is going to be a formidable option and services like these will gradually erode the use of USB flash drives in the consumer market.
Promotional USB Flash Drives
Interestingly though, sales of promotional USB flash drives have never been stronger. Companies wishing to distribute data or provide a relatively inexpensive “branded giveaway” are now using USB flash drives in preference to CD’s and DVD’s and it’s a trend that looks set to continue. Underpinning the growth is a realisation that USB sticks have a high perceived value, they’re small and portable and they look great printed. It’s also cheaper to supply electronic brochures, price lists, catalogues etc. on a branded USB flash drive than it is to get them printed and distributed.
In response manufacturers and suppliers of promotional USB flash drives are continually bringing out new products to drive the market. Recent innovations include wafer thin credit card style USB flash drives that are only 2mm thick and bamboo USB flash drives that play well in the re-cycled/environmentally conscious market.
So, whilst consumers might start to reduce their spend on portable USB flash drives (in favour of cloud based solutions) they are increasingly likely to be given USB flash drives by companies looking for a way to communicate with them in a more innovative and cost effective manner.
Posted by USB2U on 15th March 2012 | Permalink
We all know the feeling. You’ve been planning your company’s participation at a major trade show for months and you’re pretty confident that you’ve got everything on track and you’re safe from any last minute “dropped catches”. That is until your boss decides that it might be a good idea to give away promotional USB flash drives from the show stand!
No doubt your boss will have recently been given one of these himself at a similar show (probably from a competitor) and had been meaning to tell you for a while that he wanted them for your show – it just “slipped his mind!”
Oblivious to the trauma you’ve experienced over the last few months in the run up to the show as you try and juggle organising the stand (design, floor plans, equipment, electricians, staff to man it, invites to key customers, promotion and advertising, tweets, website promotion, printed brochures, name badges and beverages for the staff on the stand) he now wants you to pull a “rabbit out of the hat” and deliver promotional USB flash drives with your logo printed on them in less than 2 days! Easy (not)!
Whilst you might think promotional USB flash drives are a good idea (you’ve probably mentioned them to him in the past but interestingly they are now his idea!) getting them organised in such a short amount of time is not going to be easy. The only saving grace is that you do have the artwork you want printed ready to go because you’ve had it created in high resolution format for the stand and other giveaways.
If you hit the internet and punch in your requirements to a popular search engine you’ll soon find a plethora of USB suppliers that purport to offer a fast turnaround but your relief is likely to quickly turn to anxiety when you realise that their interpretation of “fast” is 3-5 days!
The problem is that very few suppliers are willing to carry local stock of USB flash drives because they know if they don’t sell them that they’ll be stuck with an asset that rapidly depreciates in value (the price is USB flash drives halves every 12 months). If you do find a supplier with stock they also need to have the capability of printing them on the day you place your order – a big ask!
Only a very small number of USB suppliers are big enough to hold stock and have in-house design and print capabilities and one of these is USB2U – now in their 10th year they able to supply a range of different types and memory sizes of USB sticks printed with your logo in as little as 24hrs (assuming you get your order and artwork to them in the morning that is).
So, if you do get given the “monkey” of getting promotional USB flash drives at very short notice don’t mess around going to lots of different companies just pick up the phone and speak to the team at USB2U.
Posted by USB2U on 25th August 2011 | Permalink
Using branded USB flash drives as a promotional giveaway has many benefits but one big advantage over other promotional merchandise is the usefulness and valuable appeal. Since a USB flash drive is a piece of electrical technology it has a much larger appeal to customers and potential clients than a pen, key ring or post-it notes. The appeal to customers is evidently the usability of the USB device for personal use so the larger the amount of memory the better. If you are anything like us you probably have a few different branded USB flash drives that you have collected over the past few years floating around your desk and in your drawers, but you only seem to use the 8GB or 16GB memory stick because you know that you will rarely be stuck for space.
It is obvious that the more memory that you have in your custom USB flash drives the more useful they will be to customers, the more they will use them and the more brand exposure that you will get from each memory stick. The down side is that the memory stick is the most expensive component of the flash drive and more memory means slightly more money per drive. We understand that the size of memory in your promotional USB flash drives will depend on the company, project budget and use of the flash drives, however the benefits to be considered are the customers re-use of the flash drive, the perception of the company from the memory size and the data size that can be pre-loaded onto the drive. One company that we did a job for was well aware of these benefits and didn’t want to risk anything.
We have just branded a large batch of 500GB 2.5” hard drives pre-loaded with only just over 7GB of pre-loaded data. ‘Why 500GB hard drives for only 7GB of data?’ you might ask. It’s clear that this company understands the benefits of giving potential customers or existing clients a sleek, useful and compact device as a promotional give-away. The company is giving the hard drives away at a conference to all who attend.
Although many companies maybe couldn’t afford, need to or want to give away a similar promotional gift the benefits for any company who does should be quite substantial. Imagine getting a branded 500GB hard drive as a gift, any time that you use it you are bound to think of the company and how they gave it to you for free.
A large memory hard drive might be a little outside of many people’s budgets however, some of our custom USB memory sticks go up to a large 32GB memory size and will make a similar impact on clients.
Posted by USB2U on 8th July 2011 | Permalink
Communicating with consumers today is much harder than it used to be, however branded USBs can hold the attention of your target audience for those valuable few minutes.
In the early days of business and trading, marketing was performed in the market place where the businesses and customers were gathered. Marketing was much less varied than today but it was simpler as businesses knew where their customers were and how to get their attention.
With the introduction of newspapers and the wireless more marketing options were available for companies to reach their target market, but it also started to separate customers. Businesses would have to decide which newspaper best reached their target market, advertise with them and hope that they reached the right readers.
Today however, this problem is much more problematic. The invention of the television, computer games, Internet and multiple other entertainment mediums have led to a wide range of marketing streams and in turn have further separated customers into segments of one. Not only are customers becoming harder to reach but they are interrupted from the media and entertainment they want with TV and radio adverts etc.
The challenge therefore is to become creative and clever in the marketing that is used to gain the attention of the right people. Some companies spend millions on market research to discover which mediums they should use, but really what they should be doing is going back to basics.
When you give a brand new, shiny USB stick to your potential customers branded with your logo, you instantly catch their attention with something that is both visually appealing and useful to them. We find that there is something a little more interesting and valuable to a USB flash drive than an old fashioned business card, leaflet or even a CD. A large majority of times your customer is going to plug the memory stick into a computer to use it for file transfers to find out what has been pre loaded onto the USB stick they have been handed.
In that moment you have the complete and undivided attention of a perfectly targeted customer. For the price of a USB flash drive, a fraction of the cost of any large marketing campaign, you have a few minutes of valuable engaged advertising.
Another advantage of this type of engaging marketing is that files, documents and information that would not be possible to communicate via other forms of marketing can be placed in front of the people you want to read it.
Our USBs can be preloaded with any type of marketing material that deserves the engaging attention of your potential customers. The files can be set to auto-run when the USB drive is plugged into a computer so that the information isn’t missed and the drives can even be partitioned so that the information is protected whilst the rest of the drive can be used for data storage. What’s more, the data loading is free (up to 100MB)!!!
To find out more about our data loading services click here.