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The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 09, 2015 • Issue 15:02:01

Girl Scouts stage Digital Cookie 'bake-off'

The January 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas marked the unveiling of Digital Cookie, a new way for consumers to order Girl Scout cookies – and a striking example of how mobile retail and payment technologies are gaining momentum among the public and becoming integral to U.S. commerce.

CES conference attendees were the first to sample the interactive digital platform demonstrated by Girl Scouts from Oregon, Southwest Washington, and Southern Nevada councils. All 112 Girl Scout councils expect to participate in the national rollout, designed to drive revenue and boost Girl Scout brand awareness.

Good for commerce and education

Digital Cookie is available as both a mobile app and an online ordering tool. Girl Scouts in select regional areas can send out email invitations to their personalized cookie websites. Other areas will focus on in-app ordering designed to facilitate in-person credit card orders. The rollout of Digital Cookie version 2.0 will continue throughout 2015, with more councils participating.

Leaders of Ventura-based Girl Scouts of California's Central Coast look beyond dollar signs to the educational value of the digital ordering platform. Council CEO Gina Jaeger noted that beyond having the "best cookie sale ever with all the new tools available for our Cookie Bosses," that the program represents the largest girl-led business in the United States and provides benefits beyond just dollars and cents to participating girls.

Jaeger and team are excited to be part of the program, which offers "21st Century tools" that help Girl Scouts learn about money management and help them meet their goals. In addition to the Cookie Booth Sales that run from Feb. 13 through March 15, the council can take orders for Girl Scout Cookies to be sent to military service personnel serving overseas, in partnership with the organization For the Troops.

Exponential growth of digital commerce

Forrester Research predicts continued momentum in U.S. mobile spending, which is expected to swell to an estimated $142 million in the five-year period between 2014 and 2019. Pew Research findings show that more than half of Americans use smartphones; it expects one in five mobile phones will be equipped with mobile wallets by 2018.

A study by Accenture presented at the Money2020 Conference in 2014 showed that 87 percent of the 4,000 consumers interviewed used smartphones regularly, and 45 percent used them to make mobile payments.

Consumers' mixed definitions of mobile commerce include such activities as tapping a mobile phone on a contactless reader, using the mobile web to make a bill payment and making a payment from within a mobile app. End-users' perceptions of mobile wallets are equally diverse, while the leading mobile wallets like Google Wallet and Apple Pay continue to gain brand awareness and market share.

Payments industry consultant Richard Crone, author of the popular phrase, "the one who enrolls is the one who controls," urges large and small retailers to introduce their own branded mobile payment apps so that they can control their destinies. A mobile app can include loyalty programs, geolocation services, digital coupons and other assorted values beyond a simple payments mechanism. A mobile wallet also can keep consumer customers engaged within the brand while preventing them from defecting to competitors.

Crone stated that mobile wallets provide retailers with an opportunity to control their brands, boost in-store engagement, and manage transactional data to get closer to their customers.

Digital cookies for new demands

As the Girl Scouts of America bring a new flavor of commerce to a 100 year-old tradition of selling cookies, payments industry analysts anticipate additional benefits for all stakeholders in the payments industry value chain.

A mobile cookie finder app, available on both Android and iOS, can help consumers locate the closest cookie booth in America and Puerto Rico. Soon all of these booths will be equipped to accept mobile payments and online orders, using Digital Cookie version 2.0.

Derek Webster, Founder and CEO of CardFlight Inc., sees the digitalization of the time-honored Girl Scouts brand as indicative of the growth in mobile payment acceptance across a wide range of merchant types. Webster said, "Smart merchants know that consumers expect to have the option to pay with their credit card and are looking for easy ways to accept those payments. Mobile payment systems and mobile point of sales systems are great ways of powering commerce on-the-go."

"I am excited to see that payments are playing a key role in the Girls Scouts organization which benefits so many young girls," said Linda Rossetti, 2015 Women's Network in Electronic Transactions' (W.net) Pesident and President of Bluestone Payments. "I commend the Girl Scouts for teaching great selling skills through the sale of cookies, as well as adopting technology to make it easier for each of us to pay." end of article

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