It looks like all the parents who use Facebook to sell Girl Scout cookies for their daughters have been helping their girls get around the rules — until now, that is. Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has approved online sales of the cookies after prohibiting them for years.

The Girl Scouts developed Digital Cookie, a platform that allows each scout to set up her own online website to sell and ship cookies to friends and family. In the past, the Girl Scouts hadn’t allow online selling because it gave some girls an unfair advantage in the competition for most sales. It was also prohibited because “online sales did not teach girls how to sell to others directly or learn how to handle money and deliver cookies — some of the entrepreneurial skills the sales program is designed to instill.”

If my experience with how Girl Scout cookies have been sold recently is any indication of what has been happening nationally, not many girls were learning those skills anyway. Parents seem to have taken on the responsibility of selling, handling the money and delivering the cookies.

Last year, there was a table set up at the local grocery store manned solely by parents. There wasn’t a Girl Scout in sight. Two moms sat at the table complaining to each other that they “had” to be there because their daughters were too busy with other activities. I also saw a table last year where the girls were there, but they were off to the side with their faces in their phones while their mothers did all the work.

To be fair, I’ve also seen tables where the girls do the work while their parents stand in the background. However, between the parental Facebook selling and the many tables where parents do all the work, I haven’t been encouraged that the majority of girls were learning the skills that cookie selling was designed to instill.

If the Digital Cookie platform can get the girls in the Girl Scouts back in charge of the cookie selling process (with some parental supervision, not parental control), this could teach girls useful skills. Digital marketing is an important entrepreneurial tool.

Girl Scouts can use Digital Cookie in two ways. They can set up a website and invite others to order cookies there, or they can use a mobile app to take orders in person. Either option allows girls to accept payment by credit card and then hand deliver the cookies or have the cookies shipped.

If allowed by their parents to really handle the cookie sales, girls will learn several skills with the Digital Cookie including:

  • Setting up a website
  • Online marketing
  • E-commerce
  • Tracking orders digitally
  • Delivering orders
If I had a Girl Scout who sold cookies, I would have her use Digital Cookie so she could gain experience in online sales. She could also see how the Internet is a useful tool for entrepreneurs that can open up a world of professional possibilities. I would have her sell traditionally, too. Knocking on neighbor’s doors and standing outside grocery stores teaches skills that online sales can't.

If you have a daughter who is a Girl Scout, will she be using the Digital Cookie?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

It's official: Girl Scouts can sell their cookies online
The new Digital Cookie platform can teach the girls useful entrepreneurial skills, if their parents can step aside and let the girls be in charge.