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METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR E-
COMMERCE AND RELATED DATA
MANAGEMENT, ANALYSIS AND
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates generally to an on-line shopping support method and system using communication 10 networks, and more particularly to a method and system for transacting e-commerce and related data management, analysis, and reporting.
2. Description of the Related Art
Buyers in need of goods and services often spend considerable time locating an appropriate vendor. Buyers use trade publications, directories, recommendations, and other means to locate vendors. If the type of vendor needed is in a foreign country, the problem compounds. Vendors adver- 2Q tise through various media and by direct sales methods to make known to potential buyers what they sell and how to contact them. Once a buyer identifies a few vendors, each must be contacted to obtain product or service, price and availability information. This is a time consuming process 2J and companies typically rely on experience purchasing staff to accomplish it. In addition, when buyers must sell surplus inventory from time to time, they must advertise, cold call, sell to brokers or the like. These processes are costly and time consuming for most businesses. 30
The prior art describes computerized shopping systems which employ some kind of central database of goods and services offered to buyers. Information about the goods and services offered is stored centrally and must be kept current centrally. The volume of information required to be main- 35 tained and updated in a central database system restricts it to a limited type or number of goods and services or number of vendors it can offer. It is not feasible for such systems to provide access to all standard goods and services and all suppliers world wide. For such a central database to exist, 40 the amount of information to be stored would be awesome as would be the task of keeping it current. It simply is not feasible for central database systems to satisfy the need of buyers to receive timely quotes on an enormous variety of goods and services from vendors anywhere in the world. For 45 this reason, existing centralized database systems are created and maintained by the one or few vendors whose goods and prices are displayed. These systems necessarily restrict a buyer's choice of vendors.
These systems are like electronic supermarkets which are 50 owned by a single company or an association of suppliers. In such systems, a vendor provides its database of goods and/or services to a buyer who orders items from the vendor's database. It is analogous to walking into a vendors store and selecting items from the vendors available stock. 55 Another such system is analogous to shopping in a mall. In this case a number of (complementary) vendors combine to offer their collective inventory to the buyer through individual databases or a combined database of available goods or services. In yet another existing system, a primary, seller, 60 such as an insurance agency, offers to provide buyers premium quotations from the insurance carriers for which the agency is an agent.
In all of the above cases, the vendors responding to the buyers request regarding a particular good or service are 65 either the service provider or a vendor with whom the service provider is involved in another business relationship
such as advertisers in a common publication or affiliated insurance carrier. These select vendors provide the product and pricing information supplied by the system to buyers. These systems have no capacity to offer an unlimited number of goods and services from any number of vendors who wish to become members of the system. This would require an unrealistically large central database containing information about products, services and vendors. Each vendor would be required to provide detailed information to the central database about its product lines and would be required to update them daily. Accordingly, existing systems are very specialized electronic buying services with a limited selection of goods, services, and vendors. In addition, buyers wishing to sell surplus inventory from time to time cannot use these systems for that purpose.
In a conventional on-line shopping system using a personal computer based communication network or the like, a service offering side (or merchandise selling side) supplies merchandise information in response to a merchandise search request.
As on-line shopping using multimedia and networks prevails, a variety of merchandise such as daily necessities is sold on-line. Users buy a variety of merchandise at a considerable frequency through on-line shopping. In conventional on-line shopping, however, the service offering side provides merchandise information in a uniform menu style, and is unable to provide services suitable for user specific needs or conditions. On the service user side, merchandise information is searched by using a uniform menu. Therefore, as daily necessities or the like are bought at a considerable frequency, it can be anticipated some merchandise may sometimes be forgotten at the time of a purchase.
Several patents are illustrative of known technology for enabling a user to acquire goods or services while operating on-line. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,984,155, issued on Jan. 8, 1991 to Raymond R. Geier et al., describes a system for enabling a customer to operate a data terminal for placing an order for goods or services from a supplier, the data terminal displays information about the goods or services being ordered to complete, correct or update information available from the supplier's catalog.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,136,501, issued on Aug. 4, 1992 to David L. Silverman et al., describes a matching system for trading instruments in which bids are automatically matched against offers for given trading instruments for automatically providing matching transactions in order to complete trades for the given trading instruments, includes a host computer means comprising means for anonymously matching active bids and offers in the system by trading instrument based on a variable matching criteria, which comprises a counterpart credit limit between counterparts to a potential matching transaction.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,351,186, issued on Sep. 27, 1994 to Wayne J. Bullock et al. describes a system and method for obtaining information concerning a product or a service to a user which includes a remotely located source of computerbased information for generating and transmitting encoded data, including encoded audio data, pertaining to a plurality of products or services.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,493,490, issued on Feb. 20, 1996 to Jerome D. Johnson, describes an electronic system for creating customized product proposals stores a plurality of pictures and text segments to be used as building blocks in creating the proposal.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,664,115, issued on Sep. 2,1997 to Richard Fraser, describes a method and apparatus for automatically
matching, sellers of property with potential buyers through a communications network (preferably the Internet) in which a host system communicates with the sellers and the potential buyers over telephone or dedicated data transmission lines. 5
U.S. Pat. No. 5,717,989, issued on Feb. 10, 1998 to Guy Frederick Tozzoli et al., describes a system that stores criteria specified by a funder relating to trade transactions for buyers and sellers. The system compares the criteria with a proposed purchase order to determine whether the system 1° can generate a payment guarantee on behalf of the funder for the buyer to the seller.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,758,328, issued on May 26, 1998 to Joseph Giovannoli, describes a computer system forming a computer based communications network of network mem- 15 bers inclusive of network buyers and or network vendors for processing requests for quotation for goods and services through at least one central processing unit including operating system software for controlling the identification of network members, means for network buyers to generate 20 request for quotation for goods and/or services, means for transmitting said request for quotation to said central processing unit, filter means for selecting appropriate network members to receive said request for quotation based on filter conditions defined by the buyer in said request for quotation 25 and/or by the vendor and/or by the central processing unit, means for broadcasting said request for quotation to the network members selected by said filter means and means for responding to the generator of said request quotation with either a response to said, request for quotation or with 30 a list of said selected network members. Filter conditions may define the class of vendors in terms of geographical location, quantity, language spoken, currency, special conditions of sale, and the like.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,790,426, issued on Aug. 4, 1998 to Gary 35 B. Robinson, describes an automated collaborative filtering (ACF) system for recommending at least one item to a first user based on similarity in preference of the user as compared with other users. The ACF system stores rating data 4Q for items provided by users of the system.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,794,212, issued on Aug. 11,1998 to Alfred F. Mistr, Jr., describes a method for providing more efficient communication between energy suppliers, energy purchasers, and transportation providers and having an 45 administrator to assist in the transmission of energy as necessary for providing timely movement of energy as necessary for providing timely movement of energy.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,832,459, issued on Nov. 3, 1998 to Paul Scott Cameron et al., describes a computerized source 50 searching system and method for the placement of an order for at least one offer via a terminal having a display.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,842,178, issued on Nov. 24, 1998 to Joseph Giovannoli, describes a computerized system for forming a computer based communications network of 55 network members inclusive of network buyers and or network vendors for processing request for quotation for goods and services through at least one central processing unit including operating system software for controlling the central processing unit, storage means containing the iden- 60 tification of network members, means for network buyers to generate request for quotation for goods and/or services, means for transmitting said request for quotation to said central processing unit, filter means for selecting appropriate network members to receive said request for quotation based 65 on filter conditions defined by the buyer in said request for quotation and/or by the vendor and/or by the central pro
cessing unit, means for broadcasting said request for quotation to the network members selected by said filter means and means for responding to the generator of said request for quotation with either a response to said request for quotation or with a list of said selected network members. Filter condition may define the class of vendors in terms, of geographical location, quantity, language spoken, currency, special conditions of sale, and the like.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,862,223, issued on Jan. 19,1999 to Jay S. Walker et al. describes an expert matching method and apparatus for managing communications between an expert having particular qualifications and an end user seeking a solution to an expert request.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,873,071, issued on Feb. 16, 1999 to Robert A. Ferstenberg et al., describes software processes distributed on one or more computer systems that exchange messages in order to facilitate an intermediated exchange of financial commodities between a plurality of exchange of financial commodities between a plurality of participants.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,924,082, issued on Jul. 13, 1999 to David L. Silverman et al., describes a negotiated matching system that includes a plurality of remote terminals associated with respective potential counterparts, a communications network for permitting communication between the remote terminals, and a matching station. Each user enters trading information and ranking information into his or her remote terminal. The matching station then uses the trading and ranking information from each user to identify transactions between counterparts that are mutually acceptable based on the ranking information, thereby matching potential counterparts that are mutually acceptable based on the ranking, information, thereby matching potential counterparts to a transaction.
U.S. Pat. No. 5,924,083, issued on Jul. 13, 1999 to David L. Silverman et al., describes a distributed electronic trading system for displaying a real-time credit filtered view of at least one market in which financial instruments are traded in which the market view includes a predetermined number of orders currently available to a viewing trading entity based upon one or more credit limits entered by the viewing trading entities and/or other trading entities in the system includes a host for receiving and storing orders and credit information entered by a plurality of trading entities including the viewing trading entity, for transmitting the orders and predetermined display parameters, and for selectively transmitting the credit information; a plurality of intelligent nodes linked to the host; and a plurality of key stations respectively linked to one or more of the intelligent nodes.
Japanese Pat. No. 54-127255, issued on Mar. 10, 1979 describes an on-line network system for information on used car stock registration.
However, none of the aforementioned inventions describe a method and system for transacting e-commerce and related data management, analysis, & reporting that includes a filtering means for generating purchasing options based expert criteria, as purchasing price calculation, and filtering input data. None of the aforementioned inventions describe a method and system for transacting e-commerce and related data management, analysis, & reporting that incorporates a cost reduction program for dynamically generating a list of cost reduction options tailored for a particular type of customer. Moreover, none of the aforementioned inventions describe a method and system for transacting e-commerce and related data management, analysis, & reporting having default vendor pricing options for enabling vendors to selectively use default pricing values in their bids.