When Girl Scouts Meet Mobile Payments

Don’t look now, but mobile payments are really starting to catch on in the U.S. Last year, about one out of every three Americans surveyed reported using mobile payments in some way. And now, the mobile payments movement is getting some assistance from a group which boasts 3.2 million members and has built a longstanding wintertime tradition.

The organization? Girl Scouts of America. The tradition? Girl Scout Cookie sales.

Scouts, Swipes, and Sweets

About 175 million boxes of cookies are sold by Girl Scouts each year. But in 2012, some of those boxes were paid for using mobile payments systems. Over 40,000 scout troops incorporated mobile payments into their selling strategies.

Here’s how it works: the troop has one or more credit card readers that can be plugged into any tablet computer or smartphone which has the accompanying software on it. This reader gives cookie sellers the ability to swipe a customer’s credit card, process the transaction, record a signature on the device’s touch screen, and issue an electronic receipt. The software even calculates sales tax where applicable.

This mobile payments system is easy for girls (or their parents) to use. Plus, this capability allows Girl Scouts to accept credit card payments at cookie sales tables set up on the sidewalk, while individual scouts go door-to-door selling cookies, and at special Girl Scout fundraisers.

Mobile Payments = More Boxes Sold

So how has mobile payments helped Girl Scout cookie sales?

  • According to Girl Scouts of Central California South (based in Fresno), mobile payments boosted the average cookie sale transaction by about 33%, to $80, last year.
  • North Carolina Coastal Pines troops (based in Raleigh) posted a sales increase in 2012 of approximately 13 percent.
  • Girl Scouts of Northeast Ohio (based in Macedonia) said that the per-girl sales average for scouts who used mobile payments technology jumped 14 percent in 2012 to 176 boxes.

But the Girl Scouts love mobile payments for reasons other than the increase in sales. Troops who use mobile payments cite its convenience, ease of use, and daily report generation as benefits that they enjoy. They also like the electronic receipts generated by mobile payments — and the fact that the money goes straight into the troops’ account. No more worrying about cash getting lost.

Not surprisingly, mobile payments have remained popular during the 2013 Girl Scout cookie sales initiative, which is happening now, and it’s likely that the percentage of mobile payments transactions for Girl Scout cookies will rise in the years to come.

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