Girls Scouts byting into digital for cookie sales

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Girls Scouts byting into digital for cookie sales
This is a 1924 file photo showing Juliette Gordon Low and a group of Girl Scouts standing in the yard in Savannah, Ga., where the first Girl Scouts met in 1912. Low founded the Girls Scouts 85 years ago this month. (AP Photo/The Times of Northwest Indiana)
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In this rare photo taken in 1923, the legendary Babe Ruth puts the bite on a Girl Scout cookie to help promote the Scout's Annual Cookie Sale. The photo will be part of a special display of Girl Scout uniforms and memorabilia at the 38th National Antique Show, February 13-21, 1982, at Madison Square Garden. The National, New York's oldest Antiques Event is setting up this Exhibit to help the Girl Scouts celebrate their 70th Anniversary (1912-1982).(AP PHOTO/MANHATTAN ANTIQUES SHOWS)
Seven-year-old twin Brownies Corrine, left, and Stephanie Rivera, right, set up a Girl scout cookie sales table along with Samantha Prokos, 8, in New York's Empire State Building, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 1998. Fresh from a sales-training seminar, the girls were turning cookies into dough fast in the lobby of the landmark building. (AP Photo/Scott Gries)
At the height of the hula hoop craze, various techniques are demonstrated in Los Angeles Aug. 20, 1958 as children ranging from 2 to 16 years old competed for prizes on "Art Linkletter's House Party" show. Groups including the Girl Scouts, Brownies, Blue Birds and Campfire Girls were represented. (AP Photo)
A Senior Scout teaches a Brownie reverence for nature by showing her how to set out plants in a garden in this undated photo. Facing nationwide problems attracting troop leaders and retaining members in their early teens, the Girl Scouts are trying to put a young, hip face on the traditional cookies-and-camping group. (AP Photo/File)
First lady Mamie Eisenhower, honorary president of the Girl Scouts of America, is given a scroll of thanks from the Scout organization in the White House in Washington, D.C., on March 6, 1956. Making the presentation are, Margaret Solem, 11, Alexandria, Va., Mrs. Roy F. Layton, national president of the Girl Scouts, and Mary Sibert, 11, Alexandria, Va. (AP Photo)
A group of Girl Scouts find things other than a speech by Vice President Dick Cheney to concentrate on as he speaks at a luncheon for Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Cornyn Friday, July 19, 2002, in Houston. Cheney has remained silent about his time as chairman and chief executive of Halliburton Co., which is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission and a target of multiple lawsuits for its accounting practices. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)
Girl Scouts from Cincinnati, Ohio, light candles commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of girl scouting during a ceremony at the National Senior Girl Scout Roundup in Button Bay, Vt., July 26, 1962. Honored guest Maria Trapp looks on at right. The girls from left are, Cindy Barr, Jane Currie, Mary Ann Huber and Anne Whisdon. (AP Photo)
President Bush is welcomed by local girl scouts as he arrives in Pasco, Wash. where he visited the Ice Harbor Dam on the Snake River in Burbank, Wash., to promote his agenda on salmon restoration, Friday, Aug. 22, 2003. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
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Actress Dakota Fanning, center, celebrates being sworn in as a member of the Girl Scouts of the San Fernando Valley with a special screening of her movie "Dreamer" with fellow Girl Scouts Thursday, Sept. 22, 2005, in Burbank, Calif. (AP Photo/Phil McCarten)
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Santa Clara County Girl Scouts of America members Viris Rios, 10, left, and Madeline Hurst, 10, center, recite the Pledge of Allegiance during the 20th Annual Flag Day Ceremony at the Santa Clara County Government Center in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 14, 2004. The Supreme Court preserved the phrase "one nation, under God," in the Pledge of Allegiance, ruling Monday that a California atheist could not challenge the patriotic oath but sidestepping the broader question of separation of church and state. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
From left, 11-year-old Justine Espinosa, 12-year-old Tonya Johnson and 10-year-old Regina Contreras, members of Girl Scout Troop 2071 of Brighton, Colo., place photos of missing children on the steps of the State Capitol in Denver on Tuesday, June 22, 2004, before a vigil to mark Colorado Missing Children's Week. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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Girl Scouts Adrianna Doyle, left, laughs along with Paige Desmarais during a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration in Manchester, N.H., Monday Jan. 16, 2006. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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Girl Scouts from Barnesville, Ga., Carly Proud, 10, left, Elen Saunders, 11, and Abigail Gutierrez, 10, right, take a hands on approach at NASA's planetary exhibit during the National Girl Scout Convention, in Atlanta, Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Girl Scouts, from right, Stephanie Schey, Kristen Mathieson and Christine Mahoney, count 1,500 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that were mailed to the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq from Montville, N.J., Tuesday, March 14, 2006. The Girl Scouts of Troop 580 in Montville asked for donations from their community to pay for the cookies and the postage was donated by the local Kiwanis Club. (AP Photo/Mike Derer)
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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: A Girl Scouts sells cookies as a winter storm moves in on February 8, 2013 in New York City. The scouts did brisk business, setting up shop in locations around Midtown Manhattan on National Girl Scout Cookie Day. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: Girl Scouts sell cookies as a winter storm moves in on February 8, 2013 in New York City. The scouts did brisk business, setting up shop in locations around Midtown Manhattan on National Girl Scout Cookie Day. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 08: Girl Scouts sell cookies as a winter storm moves in on February 8, 2013 in New York City. The scouts did brisk business, setting up shop in locations around Midtown Manhattan on National Girl Scout Cookie Day. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
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SILVER SPRING,MD - February, 22:Girl Scout Min Hunt-Neu, 11, loads up her cookies Wednesday February 22, 2012 in Silver Spring, MD. She sold 100 boxes.(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Girl Scout cookie boxes were loaded into vehicles during the Girl Scouts Heart of Central California's Mega Drop event at Big Valley Church in Modesto, California, Monday, February 20, 2012. Approximately 322,130 packages of cookies were distributed to Girl Scout troops for delivery. (Bart Ah You/Modesto Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
SILVER SPRING,MD - February, 22:Girl Scout Min Hunt-Neu, 11, looks over her cookie list Wednesday February 22, 2012 in Silver Spring, MD. She sold 100 boxes.(Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
SCOUTCOOKIES09-- Jason Henderson helps local Girl Scout troop at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont as they pick up their Girl Scout Cookie orders. Millions of packages of Girl Scout Cookies are being distributed throughout the state over the next week! These packages will fulfill customer orders and help girls gear up for Girl Scout Cookie Booth Sales at grocery stores and other retail locations from Feb. 12 to March 7. RJ Sangosti/ The Denver Post (Photo By RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

NEW YORK (AP) - Watch out world, the Girl Scouts are going digital to sell you cookies.

For the first time in 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 cranks up this month and the scouting organization gets digital sales underway. But digital sales are intended to enhance, not replace, the paper spreadsheets used to generate an estimated $800 million in cookie sales a year - at anywhere from $3.50 to $5 a box, 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?' We spend a lot of time thinking how do we make this safe, scalable and smart," Kelly M. Parisi, chief communications executive for Girl Scouts of the USA, said at a recent 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.

Girls Scouts Byting Into Digital For Cookie Sales

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 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."

Porcher also sees word-of-mouth value in getting cookies delivered quickly.

"People are going to be walking around with cookies and others are going to say, 'Whoa, how did you get those already?'"

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."

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