If you went all day Tuesday without seeing something about a swimsuit giveaway on your Instagram timeline, you probably didn’t spend very much time online.
Sunny Co Clothing was started just a few months ago by a group of students from the University of Arizona. On Tuesday, they had an idea for a contest, that would hopefully generate some engagement for their Instagram. They would “give away” free swimsuits to anyone that was willing to re-share their post and tag their account.
Sharing is Caring 💕 EVERYONE that reposts and tags us in this picture within the next 24 HOURS will receive a FREE Pamela Sunny Suit 👙👏🏻 Offer only valid in 🇺🇸 Promo ends 5/3/17 @ 3pm MST *Must pay shipping+handling 💸 This promotion is sponsored by @twazerapp After 24 hr. everyone who reposted and tagged us will be receiving a code and they will be able to use it on our website for the free check out 💕 xoxo, Sunny Team
The giveaway quickly blew up, garnering more than 300,000 likes and skyrocketing their account to over 750,000 followers – from the mere 7,000 they had on Monday.
The internet quickly realized that this surely had to be a scam… right?
Girls this summer pulling up to the pool with their free "SunnyCoClothing" swimsuit pic.twitter.com/nd8VVjtkla
— Common White Girl (@CommonWhiteGrls) May 3, 2017
… Not exactly. While Sunny Co’s website now has all of their promo products marked as “sold out,” the young marketers weren’t ever posed to take a loss on the promotion. Free isn’t actually free when you’re asked to pay shipping.
so i just ordered my bathing suit from sunnyco or whatever. you still have to pay shipping. however i got an$80 bathing suit for $12 (-;
— catherine miller (@_catmiller865) May 3, 2017
Let’s look at the numbers.
Buyers were charged $12.98 for domestic shipping, which is significantly more than it costs to mail something in the United States.
“A package like that would cost $2.77 to ship using USPS First Class, and about $0.10 in packaging” said Barrett Shepherd, CEO of Simpl Fulfillment, a company that specializes in e-commerce fulfillment.
And that bathing suit definitely wasn’t worth $80 either. Suppliers on Chinese wholesale site Alibaba offer the same suits Sunny Co was selling for as little as $2.87.
Sunny Co is looking at profits upwards of $6 per swimsuit ‘given away’ – not to mention the value added from building their email list, growing their Instagram to three-quarters of a million followers strong, and the future organic sales that will come from each.
While the e-commerce company may have been ill-prepared for their overnight success, they’ve certainly positioned themselves to make a great deal of profit on the sale of ‘free’ swimsuits – so long as their customers are willing to wait a while.