Selling Girl Scout cookies? There's an app for that Bria and Shirell practice selling cookies on one of two new digital platforms (AP photo / girlscouts.org)
Selling Girl Scout cookies? There's an app for that
Lexile

The Girl Scouts are going digital to sell you cookies.

For the first time since sales began nearly 100 years, Girl Scouts of the USA will allow its young go-getters to push their wares using a mobile app or personalized websites.

But only if their scout councils and guardians say OK.

"Girls have been telling us that they want to go into this space," said Sarah Angel-Johnson, chief digital cookie executive for the organization, covering about 2 million girls. "Online is where entrepreneurship is going."

And the best news for these digital natives: They can have cookies shipped directly to your doorstep.

More than 1 million scouts, from kindergarten-age Daisies to teens, were expected to opt in as cookie-selling season begins this month and the scouting organization gets digital sales underway. But the tactic is intended to enhance, not replace, the paper spreadsheets used to generate an estimated $800 million in cookie sales a year. Each cookie box is priced anywhere from $3.50 to $5, depending on scout council.

There are important e-lessons here, scout officials said, such as better articulating and tracking goals, learning to handle customers and money in a new way, and more efficiently processing credit card information.

"A lot of people have asked, 'What took you so long to get online?' Kelly M. Parisi, chief communications executive for Girl Scouts of the USA, said at a demonstration for select media.

Councils were offered one of the two platforms but not both. For web-based sales, scouts customize their pages, using their first names only, and email prospective customers with links to click on for orders. They can also put up videos explaining who they are and what they plan to do with their proceeds.

The mobile platform offers tabs for tracking sales and allows for the sale of bundles of different kinds of cookies. It can be used on a phone or tablet.

"They can get them quicker than waiting for me to deliver them because sometimes it takes me a long time to deliver," offered 11-year-old Priscilla at the preview. The adults at the event asked that only first names of interviewed scouts be used.

Added 7-year-old Anna: "My favorite part is that now I can sell more Girl Scout Cookies." She pulled down about 200 boxes last year and has upped her goal to 600.

Girl Scouts use their cookie money to pay for community service work or troop activities such as camping and other trips.

The websites will not be accessible without an email invitation, requiring the girls to build client lists. And personal information is as protected as any digits out there, for both the scouts and customers, using encryption in some cases.

Much of the responsibility to limit identifying details about scouts online falls on parents.

Troop Leader Karen Porcher of the Bronx has an 11-year-old scout and is particularly psyched about the digital options. They live in a house rather than an apartment, and she and her husband work at home, eliminating at-office cookie and neighborly building sales.

"During cookie season, my daughter is wearing her (scout) vest on the subway and people are so excited to see a Girl Scout," Porcher explained. "Strangers actually will buy a case of cookies and wait for her to call. This is going to be amazing because now she can just say 'Give me your business card,' or 'I'll take your email address,' send the email and they can be delivered. This is gonna be sweet."

Zack Bennett of Manhattan has a 9-year-old scout who sold more than 1,000 boxes last year. She hopes to increase her goal to 1,500 this season and went through training to learn how to set up her new cookie website.

But dad won't be letting her loose alone.

"I'll be sitting in the backseat to help her, certainly when it comes to credit cards, things of that sort," he said. "But it makes perfect sense to have it be on the computer. It's definitely time the Girl Scouts came into the 21st century."

Critical thinking challenge: Why do you think it took Girl Scouts so long to start selling cookies online?

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COMMENTS (27)
  • maxwell.rosenberg54
    12/09/2014 - 12:54 p.m.

    I think that the app isn't the best idea I think that the old fashion of getting girl scout cookies is the best on my opinion because of you wouldn't have to wait to get your cookies but I would like to try the app out and see how long the cookies take to get to my house,but I like the other way because it would be more reliable than using an app and waiting for your girl scout cookies to get to your house.

  • Aw2001soccer
    12/09/2014 - 01:02 p.m.

    it took so long to start selling online because it takes time to get approval to do it for them to be able to sell it online and because it takes a while to start the website and make sure there is no problems with it

  • CHB2001aaa
    12/09/2014 - 01:08 p.m.

    I believe it took them so long because they had to figure out all the pros and cons coming from it. Also, they had to figure out what was going to happen and how it would, when they would encounter people they didn't know. Also, they had to think of the girl scouts safety through this whole process as well.

  • atayal-Orv
    12/09/2014 - 04:33 p.m.

    I think girl scouts took so long to start selling cookies on the internet because back then they did not have Internet so they went door to door selling cookies so the just kept it that why.

  • MikaylaStazewski-Ste
    12/10/2014 - 12:07 p.m.

    No shocker here. Everything is digital and based on technology nowadays. In my opinion, this is totally taking meaning away from girl scout cookies, if anything.

  • RM00charlie
    12/10/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    because girl scouts like to stay traditional and by going viral and selling their cookies that way it just isn't the same as how they did it before.

  • ws2001wrex
    12/10/2014 - 01:00 p.m.

    It took girl scouts this long to make it online because, they wanted the girls to learn and make a difference in the world. Also, it would let them able to speak out loud and be the best in that they can be.

  • TF00Music
    12/10/2014 - 01:01 p.m.

    I think it took them so long to make an app because they might want to see if the people who buy the cookies want it or not. Also most of them might not have wanted the app because it shows good skills in service.

  • IM2000food
    12/10/2014 - 01:13 p.m.

    i think it took girl scouts so long to start selling cookies online because technology was not advanced. also it took time to get everything online

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    12/10/2014 - 05:10 p.m.

    Whenever most people hear the phrase girl scouts I'm pretty sure the first thing that comes into their mind is the girl scout cookies. Selling the cookies online will definitely help them be delivered faster. It will also take away the human aspect of seeing scouts out selling, for the troops that are going completely digital.

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