The Girl Scouts have entered the Internet age. In a move that reverses a years-long ban on Internet sales, the group's national organization has given online cookie sales the go-ahead. The Girl Scouts of the USA's former thought process had been that the in-person experience—of selling, handling money, and making deliveries—was what the cookie sales were about, and that online sales wouldn't allow the girls to sharpen these skills. The New York Times points out the organization even quashed a 2009 attempt by an 8-year-old and her web-developer dad to put an order form online. But after repeated calls for a digital option, the organization relented and spent three years developing two platforms that preserve some of that experience and are, in the words of a Girl Scout exec, "safe, scalable, and smart." How "Digital Cookie" works:
In the website version, each scout gets a personal cookie website, which can only be accessed via an emailed invitation sent by the scout herself. The site can be personalized with videos, but it features the scout's first name only (or an "anonymous designation" if she is under 13). The mobile-app version includes credit card processing, direct shipping, and sales tracking. A 15-year-old who plans to use the mobile app tells USA Today she formerly used Excel spreadsheet to track sales, "but I carry my phone with me all the time and it is a lot easier to pull something up on my phone than go home and pull up a spreadsheet on my computer." The AP reports that councils were offered one of the two platforms but not both; guardians have to give their girls the green light. Digital Cookie will roll out nationally next month.