Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Girl Scouts Gloria Heslop and Kelly Lopez pose with a photo of their digital cookie site on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah fans of Samoas, Do-si-dos and Thin Mints can now lay in a stash of their favorite Girl Scout treats without having to leave their couches, thanks to a new, web-based sales system launching statewide this year.

Girl Scouts of Utah CEO Janet Frasier said the new website program has been in development for a few years and was successfully piloted in the St. George area in 2017. Now, the digital sales tool is available to all 8,000 Utah Girl Scouts and is aimed at helping Scouts build business and STEM skills through operating what is, essentially, their own online mini-stores. Frasier said launching a Digital Cookie website is optional for members and not intended to be a replacement for traditional door-to-door and neighborhood booth sales efforts.

"We're excited to add this to the learning experience the girls are already getting with their in-person sales," Frasier said. "Digital Cookies adds a much easier option for out-of-area friends and family members to purchase cookies and provides some great exposure to digital sales and all that goes with it.

"This is a national initiative but one very much driven by our girls who are interested in digital tools and always pushing to learn and do more."

Frasier said giving Scouts the experience of setting goals, and working toward them, has always been at the heart of the cookie sales programs and the new online shopping tool grows that realm in a way that keeps it relevant with the evolving digital world.

"We all hear a lot of social commentary focused on how young people are losing goal-setting skills because the internet has created this instant world," Frasier said. "But the Digital Cookie program is actually helping facilitate working toward goals by requiring our girls to tell their stories and share what they're working toward and why it's important."

Sandy Girl Scout Kelly Lopez, 18, said she's working toward a goal of funding some local service projects and that working on her Digital Cookie site has added to what she's learned from door-to-door sales.

"Setting up the page for my Digital Cookie sales was a great experience for me," Lopez said. "I learned some digital skills, got to put a video together and, I think it's added to learning a little about business management."

Gloria Heslop, 14, a Farr West Girl Scout, said she got help from her mom to set up her site and was looking forward to how it will help expand her sales territory.

"My website took two to three hours to build," Heslop said. "Now, it will be a lot easier for friends and family who don't live here to buy their cookies from me."

The Digital Cookie system, Frasier said, underwent rigorous trials to ensure that it worked smoothly and, more importantly, created a safe place for Girl Scouts to do online business.

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"The primary concern with the Digital Cookie program, and why it took as long as it do to develop, was creating a safe place for girls to promote cookie sales online," Frasier said.

Safety protocols built into the system require that buyers have an invitation to the site from the Scout host and those invitations all go to an adult parent our guardian for review. Also, Frasier noted the Scouts' sites are not searchable, though buyers who may not know who to purchase cookies from can visit the Girl Scouts of Utah main website to get connected to a Scout in their area.

Last year, Utah Girl Scouts sold 1.5 million boxes of cookies in the Beehive State.