Why Do Small Quantities of Printed USB Flash Drives Cost So Much

In tough market conditions more and more companies are turning to USB flash drives printed with their logo on in an attempt to engage with their customers, stimulate sales or just inform prospective customer about what they do.

Typically the USB flash drives will be pre-loaded with sales brochures, white papers, price lists, product specifications, video files and links to websites. Occasionally this pre-loaded data is “locked” onto the flash drive so it cannot be deleted but typically the data can be removed (deleted) by the users once they have read it – this is the recommended approach because it ensures on-going use of the flash drive by the recipient and as a result you get on-going brand exposure.

Most companies buying printed USB flash drives will typically order between 100 – 500 pieces with the most commonly requested memory size being 1GB or 2GB. These memory sizes are large enough to carry most companies pre-loaded data and they’re big enough to ensure they get used by the recipient.

Twister USB Flash Drives Twister USB Flash Drives

If you order less than 100 USB flash drives at a time then you’ll notice a sharp increase in the unit price. Whilst some companies will print and supply as little as 25 USB memory sticks at this quantity level the unit cost is pretty steep. The reason for the fairly dramatic price increases when you order in small numbers is simply because there are a lot of fixed costs in the production and delivery that have to be amortised across a much smaller number of USB sticks. Examples of these fixed costs are:

  • Print set-up costs. Every print colour has an associated cost – each ink colour has to be bought and a “screen” has to be made for every colour before the USB sticks can be printed.
  • Carriage costs from the factory. Most USB flash drives are produced and printed in China and they therefore have to be shipped into the UK using carries like UPS, TNT or DHL.
  • HM Revenue & Customs charges. As the USB sticks arrive in the UK VAT has to be paid on them in addition to which there are normally associated VAT “handling” fees.
  • QA checks, anti-virus checks and speed performance tests have to be performed on a sample of every order before they are released to a customer.
  • Re-boxing – When the USB sticks arrive in the UK it is not unusual for multiple customer jobs (particularly small jobs) to be consolidated into a single box. These consolidated shipments need re-boxing after the QA checks.
  • UK shipment costs – because of the time critical nature of most USB flash drive orders they are typically sent on the final leg of their journey by next-day courier.
  • Invoicing and payment costs – every order needs a formal VAT invoice raised and of course the banks and card companies make a charge for handling any payment to clear the invoice. If payment terms are offered there can be additional costs in chasing the payment of invoices.

When the costs illustrated above are spread over an order for say 500 USB sticks they only add pennies to the unit cost but spread over say 25 USB sticks the additional cost per stick can be quite hefty!

Where possible it’s recommended that you buy your USB flash drives in quantities of 100 plus but if you do only want 25 pieces then you can buy them from USB2U.

Share story