The Girl Scouts of the United States of America added something new this week to a nearly 100-year-old tradition: Scouts will soon use the Internet to sell their cookies. And, crucially, they will ship those online orders directly to the buyers.
The cookie-selling program is designed to help troop members develop entrepreneurial skills — from setting goals and handling money to sharpening their sales and people skills — by selling and delivering the cookies themselves. The girls compete against each other, and with other troops, to sell the most cookies, with individual and troop-wide prizes available. Until now, that process has been strictly analog; online sales were banned by the organization.
Here’s how that will change: “Digital Cookie,” a platform recently approved by the organization, will allow Girl Scouts to sell cookies via a mobile and tablet app or a personal website starting in January. Troops have to opt-in to the online selling program for their cookie-selling drives.
The organization expects that as many as 1 million scouts — or about half of the girls who participate in the Girl Scouts — will use the online selling programs next year, the Associated Press reported.
But the new tools don’t allow Girl Scouts to simply set up a Web site, sit back and wait for the sales to come in. Each individual Girl Scout will have to initiate contact with a potential buyer; the personal cookie-selling sites are only accessible via emailed invitations. It’s a supplement, not a replacement, for the pen-and-paper spreadsheet sales that Girl Scouts (and their customers) know well.
The popular cookies sell for about $4 a box on average. Troop members traditionally make door-to-door sales (these days, with parents in tow), set up booths outside retail stores, or — controversially — send forms to their parents’ workplaces to sell as many cookies as possible. The online sales, the Girl Scouts hope, will become one of many strategies scouts use to learn about entrepreneurship.
Occasionally, the national organization will step in and remind scouts — and their parents — that cookie sales are supposed to be educational endeavors. In 2012, the organization told the New York Times that it disapproves of parents selling cookies at work on behalf of their children. “Adults should not be selling cookies,” a representative told the paper. “We do want parents to help. We do not want parents to make the sale.”
That has also happened, in the past, with online sales. An 8-year-old named Wild Freeborn worked with her software-programmer dad in 2009 to set up an online sales portal for her own cookie drive — until the Girl Scouts stopped her, citing the ban.
Some local Girl Scout parents reportedly complained about Freeborn’s sales drive, which came complete with a promotional YouTube video.
At the time, the Girl Scouts told the “Today” show that the ban was in place until the organization could find a way to allow online sales in a manner that is “fair and equitable for all girls,” while remaining safe for the scouts.
Girl Scout cookie-selling began as early as 1917 in Oklahoma. Scouts used to bake their own cookies following a popular recipe, the organization explained; eventually, the program expanded to include the variety of cookies familiar to many today.
The record for sales in one season? It belongs to Katie Francis, an Oklahoma City Girl Scout who sold more than 21,000 boxes this year.
original article via: WASHINGTON POST