Girl Scouts in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas, as well as nationally, are boosting cookie sales by using smartphone and tablet apps and mobile card swipers, according to accounting and payment systems giant Sage.
Girl Scouts Louisiana East, a council that covers 800 troops in 23 parishes including East Baton Rouge and Orleans, sold more than 1 million boxes of cookies in 2015.
Many people don’t carry cash or checks, so accepting credit cards allows Scouts to sell cookies to a lot more customers, said Alisha Moore, chief customer experience officer with Girl Scouts Louisiana East in New Orleans.
“Cookie sales for the troops in our council using Sage Mobile Payments increased by 13 percent, and the per-girl-average in those troops increased from 156 boxes to 177 boxes,” Moore said.
Nationally, the Girl Scout Cookie Program generated more than $780 million in sales, according to Sage. On average, the Girl Scout councils that used Sage Mobile Payments averaged five boxes of cookies per transaction in 2015, up one box from a year ago.
LSU Associate Professor Andrew Schwarz said the retail industry is seeing a convergence of mobility and security for payments.
“The Girl Scouts are in really good position to take advantage of that,” Schwarz said.
In 2015, about 22 percent of all transactions were mobile-based, Schwarz said. But by the end of 2016 or early in 2017, half of all transactions will be mobile-based.
There are two major reasons for the shift: society as a whole is moving toward mobile purchases, and mobile transactions are more secure than the traditional approach to purchasing, he said. In the typical mobile transaction, the app creates a new encrypted number and shares that with the card reader. But the actual card number never leaves the tablet or smartphone.
Instead the device is linked to the card with a code.
So it’s a more secure processing system for consumers, banks and retailers, Schwarz said.
The Girl Scouts’ mobile payments’ experience has parallels in the business world, he said. Starbucks saw its same-store sales jump 8 percent after heavily investing in mobile payment systems.
In many Panera Bread locations, although not Baton Rouge, customers can use in-store iPads to place their orders, Schwarz said. So customers never have to talk to a sales clerk. When that happens, Panera sees sales increase.
The Girl Scouts say using the mobile payment system exposes the girls to a growing technology and helps them learn about different sales tactics and payments.
Girl Scouts will begin delivering cookies on Feb. 19 and booth sales will be from Feb. 26 to March 13.
Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.