In the face of lagging sales, the century-old Girl Scouts of the USA organization will finally allow its young entrepreneurs to utilize technology to make sales.
Called Digital Cookie, the marketing software will equip Girl Scouts to sell cookies online in one of two ways depending on their market area, the Girl Scouts of the USA announced. Some scouts will invite customers to peruse their customized online cookie websites. Others will take in-person orders using a new mobile sales app. As with all orders, online cookie sales will only be available during Girl Scout cookie season, a six-to-eight week period in winter that varies by location. (Check the Girl Scout website to see when cookies are available near you.)
It’s about time for the 102-year-old organization that puts emphasis on girls’ futures modernized. As STEM skills become increasingly important to a wide number of careers, Girl Scouts will finally get a chance to exercise their technology skills while selling cookies.
“The future of the Girl Scout Cookie Program, Digital Cookie will introduce vital 21st-century lessons about online marketing, app usage, and e-commerce to more than 1 million excited Girl Scouts who will be in the driver’s seat of their own digital cookie businesses,” the GSUSA announced in a press release.
STEM careers aside, there’s likely a second reason for the GSUSA’s final relent—lagging cookie sales. Increasingly health-savvy Americans and a crumbling economy and lower Girl Scout membership have led to fewer treats being sold in recent years. According to the GSUSA, digital sales should increase the $800 million annual sales significantly.
Digital Cookie is the first online platform to ever be approved by the GSUSA, which previously banned online sales claiming concerns for both the scouts and their cookie customers. You may have noticed one side effect of these safety concerns in the fact that most Girl Scouts no longer go door to door, but sell cookies with a troop leader at a booth in a public place.
Rather than utilizing standard (and pricey) digital privacy precautions however, GSUSA is instead requiring all scouts and their supervisors take an Internet safety pledge before using Digital Cookie. Among other tenets of the pledge: scout supervisors must approve any and all changes girls make before they go live, and no identifying information about the scout may be posted publicly on the site. Seems legit.
As was the case with the low-tech technique of cookie selling, 100% of all profits made on Digital Cookie will go right back to the Girl Scout council that sponsors the sale. Just how much goes to the troops themselves, however, came up for debate last year when lawsuits between local Girl Scout councils and the GSUSA indicated that a hefty chunk of cookie proceeds go toward funding the GSUSA’s pensions rather than Girl Scout activities.
Digital Cookie participation will depend on market area, but the GSUSA announced that the “majority” of girl scout councils will be on board for the 2014-2015 cookie season, with more adopting a version 2.0 by the end of 2015. Visit the Digital Cookie site to see if you can buy Girl Scout cookies digitally in your area.
Photo by Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar
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