Next year, it’s going to be harder than ever to resist boxes of Thin Mints and Tagalongs, because for the first time, Girl Scout cookies will be available to purchase online.
According to The New York Times, the “Digital Cookie” online sales platform will allow individual Scouts to have their own cookie sales websites, which will only be accessible through email invitations. In order to further protect the girls’ identities, scouts under 13 must use an anonymous designation to protect their names and contact information. Furthermore, parents or guardians must approve all content on the Web pages.
Since 1917, Girl Scouts have sold cookies from booths set up in busy parking lots, door to door, and through order forms passed around parents’ workplaces. Last year, 80 percent of the 2 million active Girl Scouts participated in cookie sales intended to teach valuable entrepreneurial skills, such as salesmanship and marketing. Bryan Eisenberg, best-selling author and co-founder of the Web Analytics Association, believes that moving cookie sales online will teach the girls still more valuable skills.
“I see a lot of young kids wanting to be entrepreneurs today,” Eisenberg says. “It’s not easy for them if they don’t have all the coding skills to start selling online. Online Girl Scout cookie sales are a huge opportunity to open up new markets and new skills to young people.”
Moving into the digital sphere could also be a way for the Girl Scouts to remain relevant. Recent years have seen a steep decline in Scout membership. Enrollment in the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has dropped 27 percent since 2003, according to The Detroit News. Eisenberg says that moving into online sales could be the first step toward a rebirth for the Scouts across both e-commerce and social media.
“The Girl Scouts have to be where their audience is,” Eisenberg says. “The Scouts are competing with Instagram and other social media, and they’re losing out. How do you stay relevant after 100-plus years? You evolve. And they’re evolving cautiously and hopefully intelligently. From what I’m seeing of the first effort, it looks great. I’d love to see all the tools they’re putting together.”
The Digital Cookie platform has also moved into the mobile sphere, offering a mobile app that allows for credit card payments and direct shipping. Eisenberg hopes that the change marks a revolution in the way the Girl Scouts sell cookies, adding that soon, he hopes the organization will also allow for Square payments at physical sales locations, so that “I don’t have any cash” will no longer be an excuse for passing up a box of Samoas.
“It also sounds like the Girl Scouts are trying to do their own Square and payments through mobile apps. I think that’s great,” Eisenberg says. “And the fact that they’re taking advantage of Cyber Monday to announce Digital Cookie is a move for them to try to show some new relevancy in the digital age. This is going to be fun to watch.”
Digital Cookie has already received a limited launch for Scouts who have already begun cookie sales and will roll out nationwide in January.
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