US20120203619A1 - Multi-system distributed processing of group goals - Google Patents

Multi-system distributed processing of group goals Download PDF

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Publication number
US20120203619A1
US20120203619A1 US13023740 US201113023740A US20120203619A1 US 20120203619 A1 US20120203619 A1 US 20120203619A1 US 13023740 US13023740 US 13023740 US 201113023740 A US201113023740 A US 201113023740A US 20120203619 A1 US20120203619 A1 US 20120203619A1
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Prior art keywords
delivery
embodiments
include
service
information
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Pending
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US13023740
Inventor
Howard W. Lutnick
Colin Sims
Ari Friedman
Richard Grech
Mark A. Miller
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CFPH LLC
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CFPH LLC
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination

Abstract

Various systems and methods that may relate to referral and/or delivery services are described. Some embodiments may include incentivizing groups to meet goals. Various other embodiments are described.

Description

    BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES
  • [0001]
    FIG. 1 depicts a system according to at least one embodiment of the systems disclosed herein;
  • [0002]
    FIG. 2 depicts a payment processing device according to at least one embodiment of the systems disclosed herein;
  • [0003]
    FIG. 3 depicts another payment processing device according to at least one embodiment of the systems disclosed herein;
  • [0004]
    FIG. 4 depicts a some menus interactions according to at least one embodiment of the systems disclosed herein;
  • [0005]
    FIG. 5 depicts an example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0006]
    FIG. 6 depicts another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0007]
    FIG. 7 depicts yet another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0008]
    FIG. 8 depicts some more menu interactions according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0009]
    FIG. 9 depicts yet another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0010]
    FIG. 10 depicts yet another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0011]
    FIG. 11 depicts yet another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0012]
    FIG. 12 depicts an example of a delivery service provider and a point of sale terminal;
  • [0013]
    FIG. 13 depicts yet another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein;
  • [0014]
    FIG. 14 depicts yet another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein; and
  • [0015]
    FIG. 15 depicts yet another example method according to at least one embodiment disclosed herein.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION
  • [0016]
    The following sections I-X provide a guide to interpreting the present application.
  • I. Terms
  • [0017]
    The term “product” means any machine, manufacture and/or composition of matter, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0018]
    The term “process” means any process, algorithm, method or the like, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0019]
    Each process (whether called a method, algorithm or otherwise) inherently includes one or more steps, and therefore all references to a “step” or “steps” of a process have an inherent antecedent basis in the mere recitation of the term ‘process’ or a like term.
  • [0020]
    Accordingly, any reference in a claim to a ‘step’ or ‘steps’ of a process has sufficient antecedent basis.
  • [0021]
    The term “invention” and the like mean “the one or more inventions disclosed in this application”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0022]
    The terms “an embodiment”, “embodiment”, “embodiments”, “the embodiment”, “the embodiments”, “one or more embodiments”, “some embodiments”, “certain embodiments”, “one embodiment”, “another embodiment” and the like mean “one or more (but not all) embodiments of the disclosed invention(s)”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0023]
    The term “variation” of an invention means an embodiment of the invention, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0024]
    A reference to “another embodiment” in describing an embodiment does not imply that the referenced embodiment is mutually exclusive with another embodiment (e.g., an embodiment described before the referenced embodiment), unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0025]
    The terms “including”, “comprising” and variations thereof mean “including but not necessarily limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise. Thus, for example, the sentence “the portfolio includes a red widget and a blue widget” means the portfolio includes the red widget and the blue widget, but may include something else.
  • [0026]
    The term “consisting of” and variations thereof means “including and limited to”, unless expressly specified otherwise. Thus, for example, the sentence “the portfolio consists of a red widget and a blue widget” means the portfolio includes the red widget and the blue widget, but does not include anything else.
  • [0027]
    The term “compose” and variations thereof means “to make up the constituent parts of, component of or member of”, unless expressly specified otherwise. Thus, for example, the sentence “the red widget and the blue widget compose a portfolio” means the portfolio includes the red widget and the blue widget.
  • [0028]
    The term “exclusively compose” and variations thereof means “to make up exclusively the constituent parts of, to be the only components of or to be the only members of”, unless expressly specified otherwise. Thus, for example, the sentence “the red widget and the blue widget exclusively compose a portfolio” means the portfolio consists of the red widget and the blue widget, and nothing else.
  • [0029]
    The terms “a”, “an” and “the” mean “one or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0030]
    The term “plurality” means “two or more”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0031]
    The term “herein” means “in the present application, including anything which may be incorporated by reference”, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0032]
    The phrase “at least one of”, when such phrase modifies a plurality of things (such as an enumerated list of things) means any combination of one or more of those things, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the phrase “at least one of a widget, a car and a wheel” means either (i) a widget, (ii) a car, (iii) a wheel, (iv) a widget and a car, (v) a widget and a wheel, (vi) a car and a wheel, or (vii) a widget, a car and a wheel. The phrase “at least one of”, when such phrase modifies a plurality of things does not mean “one of each of” the plurality of things.
  • [0033]
    Numerical terms such as “one”, “two”, etc. when used as cardinal numbers to indicate quantity of something (e.g., one widget, two widgets), mean the quantity indicated by that numerical term, but do not mean at least the quantity indicated by that numerical term. For example, the phrase “one widget” does not mean “at least one widget”, and therefore the phrase “one widget” does not cover, e.g., two widgets.
  • [0034]
    The phrase “based on” does not mean “based only on”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “based on” describes both “based only on” and “based at least on”. The phrase “based at least on” is equivalent to the phrase “based at least in part on”.
  • [0035]
    The term “represent” and like terms are not exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. For example, the term “represents” does not mean “represents only”, unless expressly specified otherwise. In other words, the phrase “the data represents a credit card number” describes both “the data represents only a credit card number” and “the data represents a credit card number and the data also represents something else”.
  • [0036]
    The term “whereby” is used herein only to precede a clause or other set of words that express only the intended result, objective or consequence of something that is previously and explicitly recited. Thus, when the term “whereby” is used in a claim, the clause or other words that the term “whereby” modifies do not establish specific further limitations of the claim or otherwise restricts the meaning or scope of the claim.
  • [0037]
    The term “e.g.” and like terms mean “for example”, and thus does not limit the term or phrase it explains. For example, in the sentence “the computer sends data (e.g., instructions, a data structure) over the Internet”, the term “e.g.” explains that “instructions” are an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet, and also explains that “a data structure” is an example of “data” that the computer may send over the Internet. However, both “instructions” and “a data structure” are merely examples of “data”, and other things besides “instructions” and “a data structure” can be “data”.
  • [0038]
    The term “respective” and like terms mean “taken individually”. Thus if two or more things have “respective” characteristics, then each such thing has its own characteristic, and these characteristics can be different from each other but need not be. For example, the phrase “each of two machines has a respective function” means that the first such machine has a function and the second such machine has a function as well. The function of the first machine may or may not be the same as the function of the second machine.
  • [0039]
    The term “i.e.” and like terms mean “that is”, and thus limits the term or phrase it explains. For example, in the sentence “the computer sends data (i.e., instructions) over the Internet”, the term “i.e.” explains that “instructions” are the “data” that the computer sends over the Internet.
  • [0040]
    Any given numerical range shall include whole and fractions of numbers within the range. For example, the range “1 to 10” shall be interpreted to specifically include whole numbers between 1 and 10 (e.g., 1, 2, 3, 4, . . . 9) and non-whole numbers (e.g. 1.1, 1.2, . . . 1.9).
  • [0041]
    Where two or more terms or phrases are synonymous (e.g., because of an explicit statement that the terms or phrases are synonymous), instances of one such term/phrase does not mean instances of another such term/phrase must have a different meaning. For example, where a statement renders the meaning of “including” to be synonymous with “including but not limited to”, the mere usage of the phrase “including but not limited to” does not mean that the term “including” means something other than “including but not limited to”.
  • II. Determining
  • [0042]
    The term “determining” and grammatical variants thereof (e.g., to determine a price, determining a value, determine an object which meets a certain criterion) is used in an extremely broad sense. The term “determining” encompasses a wide variety of actions and therefore “determining” can include calculating, computing, processing, deriving, investigating, looking up (e.g., looking up in a table, a database or another data structure), ascertaining and the like. Also, “determining” can include receiving (e.g., receiving information), accessing (e.g., accessing data in a memory) and the like. Also, “determining” can include resolving, selecting, choosing, establishing, and the like.
  • [0043]
    The term “determining” does not imply certainty or absolute precision, and therefore “determining” can include estimating, extrapolating, predicting, guessing and the like.
  • [0044]
    The term “determining” does not imply that mathematical processing must be performed, and does not imply that numerical methods must be used, and does not imply that an algorithm or process is used.
  • [0045]
    The term “determining” does not imply that any particular device must be used. For example, a computer need not necessarily perform the determining.
  • III. Forms of Sentences
  • [0046]
    Where a limitation of a first claim would cover one of a feature as well as more than one of a feature (e.g., a limitation such as “at least one widget” covers one widget as well as more than one widget), and where in a second claim that depends on the first claim, the second claim uses a definite article “the” to refer to the limitation (e.g., “the widget”), this does not imply that the first claim covers only one of the feature, and this does not imply that the second claim covers only one of the feature (e.g., “the widget” can cover both one widget and more than one widget).
  • [0047]
    When an ordinal number (such as “first”, “second”, “third” and so on) is used as an adjective before a term, that ordinal number is used (unless expressly specified otherwise) merely to indicate a particular feature, such as to distinguish that particular feature from another feature that is described by the same term or by a similar term. For example, a “first widget” may be so named merely to distinguish it from, e.g., a “second widget”. Thus, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate any other relationship between the two widgets, and likewise does not indicate any other characteristics of either or both widgets. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” (1) does not indicate that either widget comes before or after any other in order or location; (2) does not indicate that either widget occurs or acts before or after any other in time; and (3) does not indicate that either widget ranks above or below any other, as in importance or quality. In addition, the mere usage of ordinal numbers does not define a numerical limit to the features identified with the ordinal numbers. For example, the mere usage of the ordinal numbers “first” and “second” before the term “widget” does not indicate that there must be no more than two widgets.
  • [0048]
    When a single device, article or other product is described herein, more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate) may alternatively be used in place of the single device/article that is described. Accordingly, the functionality that is described as being possessed by a device may alternatively be possessed by more than one device/article (whether or not they cooperate).
  • [0049]
    Similarly, where more than one device, article or other product is described herein (whether or not they cooperate), a single device/article may alternatively be used in place of the more than one device or article that is described. For example, a plurality of computer-based devices may be substituted with a single computer-based device. Accordingly, the various functionality that is described as being possessed by more than one device or article may alternatively be possessed by a single device/article.
  • [0050]
    The functionality and/or the features of a single device that is described may be alternatively embodied by one or more other devices which are described but are not explicitly described as having such functionality/features. Thus, other embodiments need not include the described device itself, but rather can include the one or more other devices which would, in those other embodiments, have such functionality/features.
  • IV. Disclosed Examples and Terminology are not Limiting
  • [0051]
    Neither the Title (set forth at the beginning of the first page of the present application) nor the Abstract (set forth at the end of the present application) is to be taken as limiting in any way as the scope of the disclosed invention(s), is to be used in interpreting the meaning of any claim or is to be used in limiting the scope of any claim. An Abstract has been included in this application merely because an Abstract is required under 37 C.F.R. §1.72(b).
  • [0052]
    The title of the present application and headings of sections provided in the present application are for convenience only, and are not to be taken as limiting the disclosure in any way.
  • [0053]
    Numerous embodiments are described in the present application, and are presented for illustrative purposes only. The described embodiments are not, and are not intended to be, limiting in any sense. The presently disclosed invention(s) are widely applicable to numerous embodiments, as is readily apparent from the disclosure. One of ordinary skill in the art will recognize that the disclosed invention(s) may be practiced with various modifications and alterations, such as structural, logical, software, and electrical modifications. Although particular features of the disclosed invention(s) may be described with reference to one or more particular embodiments and/or drawings, it should be understood that such features are not limited to usage in the one or more particular embodiments or drawings with reference to which they are described, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0054]
    Though an embodiment may be disclosed as including several features, other embodiments of the invention may include fewer than all such features. Thus, for example, a claim may be directed to less than the entire set of features in a disclosed embodiment, and such claim would not include features beyond those features that the claim expressly recites. No embodiment of method steps or product elements described in the present application constitutes the invention claimed herein, or is essential to the invention claimed herein, or is coextensive with the invention claimed herein, except where it is either expressly stated to be so in this specification or expressly recited in a claim.
  • [0055]
    The preambles of the claims that follow recite purposes, benefits and possible uses of the claimed invention only and do not limit the claimed invention.
  • [0056]
    The present disclosure is not a literal description of all embodiments of the invention(s). Also, the present disclosure is not a listing of features of the invention(s) which must be present in all embodiments.
  • [0057]
    All disclosed embodiment are not necessarily covered by the claims (even including all pending, amended, issued and canceled claims). In addition, an embodiment may be (but need not necessarily be) covered by several claims. Accordingly, where a claim (regardless of whether pending, amended, issued or canceled) is directed to a particular embodiment, such is not evidence that the scope of other claims do not also cover that embodiment.
  • [0058]
    Devices that are described as in communication with each other need not be in continuous communication with each other, unless expressly specified otherwise. On the contrary, such devices need only transmit to each other as necessary or desirable, and may actually refrain from exchanging data most of the time. For example, a machine in communication with another machine via the Internet may not transmit data to the other machine for long period of time (e.g. weeks at a time). In addition, devices that are in communication with each other may communicate directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries.
  • [0059]
    A description of an embodiment with several components or features does not imply that all or even any of such components/features are required. On the contrary, a variety of optional components are described to illustrate the wide variety of possible embodiments of the present invention(s). Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no component/feature is essential or required.
  • [0060]
    Although process steps, algorithms or the like may be described or claimed in a particular sequential order, such processes may be configured to work in different orders. In other words, any sequence or order of steps that may be explicitly described or claimed does not necessarily indicate a requirement that the steps be performed in that order. The steps of processes described herein may be performed in any order possible. Further, some steps may be performed simultaneously despite being described or implied as occurring non-simultaneously (e.g., because one step is described after the other step). Moreover, the illustration of a process by its depiction in a drawing does not imply that the illustrated process is exclusive of other variations and modifications thereto, does not imply that the illustrated process or any of its steps are necessary to the invention(s), and does not imply that the illustrated process is preferred.
  • [0061]
    Although a process may be described as including a plurality of steps, that does not imply that all or any of the steps are preferred, essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other processes that omit some or all of the described steps. Unless otherwise specified explicitly, no step is essential or required.
  • [0062]
    Although a process may be described singly or without reference to other products or methods, in an embodiment the process may interact with other products or methods.
  • [0063]
    For example, such interaction may include linking one business model to another business model. Such interaction may be provided to enhance the flexibility or desirability of the process.
  • [0064]
    Although a product may be described as including a plurality of components, aspects, qualities, characteristics and/or features, that does not indicate that any or all of the plurality are preferred, essential or required. Various other embodiments within the scope of the described invention(s) include other products that omit some or all of the described plurality.
  • [0065]
    An enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are mutually exclusive, unless expressly specified otherwise. Likewise, an enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are comprehensive of any category, unless expressly specified otherwise.
  • [0066]
    For example, the enumerated list “a computer, a laptop, a PDA” does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are mutually exclusive and does not imply that any or all of the three items of that list are comprehensive of any category.
  • [0067]
    An enumerated list of items (which may or may not be numbered) does not imply that any or all of the items are equivalent to each other or readily substituted for each other.
  • [0068]
    All embodiments are illustrative, and do not imply that the invention or any embodiments were made or performed, as the case may be.
  • V. Computing
  • [0069]
    It will be readily apparent to one of ordinary skill in the art that the various processes described herein may be implemented by, e.g., appropriately programmed general purpose computers, special purpose computers and computing devices. Typically a processor (e.g., one or more microprocessors, one or more microcontrollers, one or more digital signal processors) will receive instructions (e.g., from a memory or like device), and execute those instructions, thereby performing one or more processes defined by those instructions. Instructions may be embodied in, e.g., one or more computer programs, one or more scripts.
  • [0070]
    A “processor” means one or more microprocessors, central processing units (CPUs), computing devices, microcontrollers, digital signal processors, or like devices or any combination thereof, regardless of the architecture (e.g., chip-level multiprocessing/multi-core, RISC, CISC, Microprocessor without Interlocked Pipeline Stages, pipelining configuration, simultaneous multithreading).
  • [0071]
    Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of an apparatus for performing the process. The apparatus that performs the process can include, e.g., a processor and those input devices and output devices that are appropriate to perform the process.
  • [0072]
    Further, programs that implement such methods (as well as other types of data) may be stored and transmitted using a variety of media (e.g., computer readable media) in a number of manners. In some embodiments, hard-wired circuitry or custom hardware may be used in place of, or in combination with, some or all of the software instructions that can implement the processes of various embodiments. Thus, various combinations of hardware and software may be used instead of software only.
  • [0073]
    The term “computer-readable medium” refers to any medium, a plurality of the same, or a combination of different media that participate in providing data (e.g., instructions, data structures) which may be read by a computer, a processor or a like device. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media include, for example, optical or magnetic disks and other persistent memory. Volatile media include dynamic random access memory (DRAM), which typically constitutes the main memory. Transmission media include coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, including the wires that comprise a system bus coupled to the processor. Transmission media may include or convey acoustic waves, light waves and electromagnetic emissions, such as those generated during radio frequency (RF) and infrared (IR) data communications. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, any other magnetic medium, a CD-ROM, DVD, any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a RAM, a PROM, an EPROM, a FLASH-EEPROM, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read.
  • [0074]
    Various forms of computer readable media may be involved in carrying data (e.g. sequences of instructions) to a processor. For example, data may be (i) delivered from RAM to a processor; (ii) carried over a wireless transmission medium; (iii) formatted and/or transmitted according to numerous formats, standards or protocols, such as Ethernet (or IEEE 802.3), SAP, ATP, Bluetooth□, and TCP/IP, TDMA, CDMA, and 3 G; and/or (iv) encrypted to ensure privacy or prevent fraud in any of a variety of ways well known in the art.
  • [0075]
    Thus a description of a process is likewise a description of a computer-readable medium storing a program for performing the process. The computer-readable medium can store (in any appropriate format) those program elements which are appropriate to perform the method.
  • [0076]
    Just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of an apparatus include a computer/computing device operable to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.
  • [0077]
    Likewise, just as the description of various steps in a process does not indicate that all the described steps are required, embodiments of a computer-readable medium storing a program or data structure include a computer-readable medium storing a program that, when executed, can cause a processor to perform some (but not necessarily all) of the described process.
  • [0078]
    Where databases are described, it will be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art that (i) alternative database structures to those described may be readily employed, and (ii) other memory structures besides databases may be readily employed. Any illustrations or descriptions of any sample databases presented herein are illustrative arrangements for stored representations of information. Any number of other arrangements may be employed besides those suggested by, e.g., tables illustrated in drawings or elsewhere. Similarly, any illustrated entries of the databases represent exemplary information only; one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that the number and content of the entries can be different from those described herein. Further, despite any depiction of the databases as tables, other formats (including relational databases, object-based models and/or distributed databases) could be used to store and manipulate the data types described herein Likewise, object methods or behaviors of a database can be used to implement various processes, such as the described herein. In addition, the databases may, in a known manner, be stored locally or remotely from a device which accesses data in such a database.
  • [0079]
    Various embodiments can be configured to work in a network environment including a computer that is in communication (e.g., via a communications network) with one or more devices. The computer may communicate with the devices directly or indirectly, via any wired or wireless medium (e.g. the Internet, LAN, WAN or Ethernet, Token Ring, a telephone line, a cable line, a radio channel, an optical communications line, commercial on-line service providers, bulletin board systems, a satellite communications link, and a combination of any of the above). Each of the devices may themselves comprise computers or other computing devices, such as those based on the Intel® Pentium® or Centrino™ processor, that are adapted to communicate with the computer. Any number and type of devices may be in communication with the computer.
  • [0080]
    In an embodiment, a server computer or centralized authority may not be necessary or desirable. For example, the present invention may, in an embodiment, be practiced on one or more devices without a central authority. In such an embodiment, any functions described herein as performed by the server computer or data described as stored on the server computer may instead be performed by or stored on one or more such devices.
  • [0081]
    Where a process is described, in an embodiment the process may operate without any user intervention. In another embodiment, the process includes some human intervention (e.g., a step is performed by or with the assistance of a human).
  • VI. Continuing Applications
  • [0082]
    The present disclosure provides, to one of ordinary skill in the art, an enabling description of several embodiments and/or inventions. Some of these embodiments and/or inventions may not be claimed in the present application, but may nevertheless be claimed in one or more continuing applications that claim the benefit of priority of the present application.
  • [0083]
    Applicants intend to file additional applications to pursue patents for subject matter that has been disclosed and enabled but not claimed in the present application.
  • VII. 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6
  • [0084]
    In a claim, a limitation of the claim which includes the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6, applies to that limitation.
  • [0085]
    In a claim, a limitation of the claim which does not include the phrase “means for” or the phrase “step for” means that 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6 does not apply to that limitation, regardless of whether that limitation recites a function without recitation of structure, material or acts for performing that function. For example, in a claim, the mere use of the phrase “step of” or the phrase “steps of” in referring to one or more steps of the claim or of another claim does not mean that 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6, applies to that step(s).
  • [0086]
    With respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6, the corresponding structure, material or acts described in the specification, and equivalents thereof, may perform additional functions as well as the specified function.
  • [0087]
    Computers, processors, computing devices and like products are structures that can perform a wide variety of functions. Such products can be operable to perform a specified function by executing one or more programs, such as a program stored in a memory device of that product or in a memory device which that product accesses. Unless expressly specified otherwise, such a program need not be based on any particular algorithm, such as any particular algorithm that might be disclosed in the present application. It is well known to one of ordinary skill in the art that a specified function may be implemented via different algorithms, and any of a number of different algorithms would be a mere design choice for carrying out the specified function.
  • [0088]
    Therefore, with respect to a means or a step for performing a specified function in accordance with 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 6, structure corresponding to a specified function includes any product programmed to perform the specified function. Such structure includes programmed products which perform the function, regardless of whether such product is programmed with (i) a disclosed algorithm for performing the function, (ii) an algorithm that is similar to a disclosed algorithm, or (iii) a different algorithm for performing the function.
  • [0089]
    Where there is recited a means for performing a function that is a method, one structure for performing this method includes a computing device (e.g., a general purpose computer) that is programmed and/or configured with appropriate hardware to perform that function.
  • [0090]
    Also included is a computing device (e.g., a general purpose computer) that is programmed and/or configured with appropriate hardware to perform that function via other algorithms as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art.
  • VIII. Disclaimer
  • [0091]
    Numerous references to a particular embodiment do not indicate a disclaimer or disavowal of additional, different embodiments, and similarly references to the description of embodiments which all include a particular feature do not indicate a disclaimer or disavowal of embodiments which do not include that particular feature. A clear disclaimer or disavowal in the present application shall be prefaced by the phrase “does not include” or by the phrase “cannot perform”.
  • IX. Incorporation By Reference
  • [0092]
    Any patent, patent application or other document referred to herein is incorporated by reference into this patent application as part of the present disclosure, but only for purposes of written description and enablement in accordance with 35 U.S.C. §112, paragraph 1, and should in no way be used to limit, define, or otherwise construe any term of the present application, unless without such incorporation by reference, no ordinary meaning would have been ascertainable by a person of ordinary skill in the art. Such person of ordinary skill in the art need not have been in any way limited by any embodiments provided in the reference
  • [0093]
    Any incorporation by reference does not, in and of itself, imply any endorsement of, ratification of or acquiescence in any statements, opinions, arguments or characterizations contained in any incorporated patent, patent application or other document, unless explicitly specified otherwise in this patent application.
  • X. Prosecution History
  • [0094]
    In interpreting the present application (which includes the claims), one of ordinary skill in the art shall refer to the prosecution history of the present application, but not to the prosecution history of any other patent or patent application, regardless of whether there are other patent applications that are considered related to the present application, and regardless of whether there are other patent applications that share a claim of priority with the present application.
  • XI. Example Embodiments
  • [0095]
    U.S. patent publication 2008/0161944 entitle Method and Apparatus for Group Filtered Reports, U.S. patent publication 2008/0195538 entitled Payment During Trial Period of Referral Service, U.S. patent publication 2009/0083135 entitled Products and Processes for Revenue Sharing, and U.S. patent publication 2009/0083324 entitled Method and Apparatus for Menu Generation and all hereby incorporated herein by reference.
  • [0096]
    It is recognized that communication (e.g., one way and/or two way) with a merchant may be desirable in some embodiments. For example, order information may be transmitted to a merchant, confirmation information may be transmitted from a merchant, time estimate information may be transmitted from a merchant, time request information may be transmitted to a merchant, payment information may be transmitted to a merchant, special request information may be transmitted to the merchant, credit authorization may be transmitted to the merchant, reservation information may be transmitted to/from a merchant, delivery information, and so on. Such information may be transmitted to and/or from a communication device associated with the merchant. A merchant for example, may include a restaurant.
  • [0097]
    It is recognized that in some embodiments a merchant may have space constraints in an area in which a communication device is desired. For example, a communication device may be desired in a kitchen area in which space is at a premium, a communication device may be desired at a counter area near where a host or hostess works, a communication device may be desired near a cash register to process payment information, and so on. In some embodiments, a merchant may already have one or more devices in such a desired area that may have some communication functionality but not all desired functionality. In some embodiments, such a communication device may include a payment transaction device configured to authorize payments such as on a credit and or debit card.
  • [0098]
    In some embodiments, a payment transaction device may be configured to provide one way and/or two way communication regarding non-payment related information. Such information may be communicated to a merchant, to a customer, to a delivery agent, to a third party, to a referral service, and so on. Because a merchant may already have a payment transaction device, the additional functionality regarding this information may be added to the merchant without adding an additional type of device that takes up additional space.
  • [0099]
    Some embodiments may include methods and apparatus related to a referral service and/or a delivery service. Some embodiments of such a service may receive an indication of an order for a merchant from a user of the service and may forward the indication of the order to the merchant. Some embodiments may facilitate delivery of items fulfilling the order from the merchant to the user.
  • [0100]
    It should be recognized that the term facilitate and derivations thereof are used herein in an extremely broad sense. Such terms may be used to include any action that may directly, and/or indirectly bring about and/or help to bring about a thing. For example facilitating transmission may include allowing a transmission, transmitting, transmitting directly, transmitting indirectly, and any action that may aid in transmission, and so on.
  • [0101]
    In some embodiments, orders for one or more merchants may be collected by an order collector such as a website operated at www.delivery.com. Such a website may provide options for a user to select one or more items from one or more merchants to order and/or have delivered. Such a website may be operated at one or more web servers and or other servers.
  • [0102]
    Such a web site may be reached over the Internet using a web browser, over another network, and so on. Other methods of submitting orders may be used, such as telephone, fax, email, proprietary software, and so on.
  • [0103]
    In some embodiments, payment for one or more orders may be made through an order collector, to a merchant, to a delivery agent, and so on. Payments may originate from various sources, such as banks, individuals, payment processing services and/or money transferors. Payments may be distributed among merchants, referral service providers, delivery agents, delivery service providers, payment processing services, and any other desired entity.
  • [0104]
    In some embodiments, an indication of a payment for an order may be received. An indication of a payment may include, for example, one or more of an indication that a payment has been made, an indication that a payment has been authorized, and/or an indication of a promise to make a payment in the future. In some implementations, an indication of a payment may include an indication that a payment has been made to a desired money account. In some implementations, the indication may be received from an entity making or processing a payment to the desired money account (e.g., a bank, a credit card company, a money transferor, a payment processing service). In some implementations, the indication may be received from an entity receiving the money (e.g., a bank, a credit card company, a money transferor, a payment processing service). In some implementations, the indication may be received after the money is authorized to be transferred into the desired account but before the money is transferred/received. In some implementations, the indication may be received after the money is transferred into/received at the desired account.
  • [0105]
    Some embodiments may include collection of a payment. For example, in some embodiments, a delivery agent may collect a promised payment upon delivery and/or pickup, a credit card may be charged an authorized amount, and so on. In some embodiments, a payment agreed upon initially may be changed later, such as to add a tip, adjust for undelivered items, refund for a coupon, and so on. Some embodiments may further include distributing the collected payment among one or more entities, such as the delivery agent, a merchant, a referral and/or delivery service, a payment processing service, and so on.
  • [0106]
    FIG. 1 illustrates an example diagram of a service implemented in some embodiments. System 101 may include a computer system as described above. System 101 may be configured to provide a referral and/or delivery service. System 101 may include a web server configured to provide a user interface to one or more users to place orders, to one or more merchants to establish menus and merchant information, to one or more administrators, and so on. System 101 may include any number of servers configured to provide any desired processing regarding order information, payment information, delivery information, review information, and so on. System 101 may include a communication interface configured to communicate information to one or more remote destinations, such as to a merchant, to a payment processing service, to a delivery agent, and so on. Such a communication interface may include a network interface, a SIM card for cellular access, a telephone line, and so on.
  • [0107]
    Some embodiments may include a merchant 103. In some embodiments, a plurality of merchants may be provided referral and/or delivery service by system 101.
  • [0108]
    Merchant 103 may register with the referral and/or delivery service, such as providing menu information, hours of operation, delivery area information, and so on to the service (e.g., through a website and/or other interface, over the phone, through mail, etc.). Merchant 103 may include a restaurant in some implementations. Such information may include one or more food items offered by a menu of the restaurant.
  • [0109]
    Some embodiments may include a user 105. User 105 may access a system 101, such as a website to place an order for one or more merchants 103 that use the services offered by system 101. The system 101 may provide information about the items offered by the merchants such as food items offered through a menu of a restaurant. A user may place an order for one or more food items offered by one or more restaurants and/or other items offered by other merchants. Such an order may include a purchase of an item and/or service, a delivery order, a pickup order, and so on. Such an order may include any number of details regarding the order such as allergy information, delivery time, pickup time, directions, delivery agent, and so on. A user may submit payment information for such an order through such a service and/or may later provide payment information to a merchant, to a delivery agent, and so on. Such an interaction may take place through software, through a web browser, on a phone, over fax, via email, and so on.
  • [0110]
    Some embodiments may include a delivery agent 107. Such a delivery agent may be part of the merchant and/or may be a third party. Such a delivery agent may act to deliver items from the merchant to the user as indicated by a dashed line in FIG. 1. In one implementation, delivery agent 107 may include a person who travels from merchant 103 to user 105. In some implementations, delivery agent 107 may deliver to another location rather than to the user if the user 105 desires such delivery (e.g., if the order indicates such delivery). In some implementations, delivery agent 107 may include a person traveling by an automobile, bicycle, or any other means. Some embodiments may include a communication interface with the delivery agent. Such an interface may allow the delivery agent to communicate with the merchant, the user, the system, the payment processing center, and so on. Such a communication interface may include a telephone line (e.g., a cell phone), a fax machine, a computer and/or another means of electronic communication. For example, in some implementations a cellular telephone may communicate information regarding the delivery to the delivery agent 211, e.g., through a telephone call or text message. In other implementations, an electronic message such as an SMS, MMS, or email message may communicate the information, for example to a mobile device carried by delivery agent 107 or to a central dispatcher that then relays the information to delivery agent 107. Such information may be sent to the delivery agent by another source, such as system 101, merchant 103, user 105, a payment processing service, and so on as desired in an implementation, for example, based on who desired to arrange such a delivery if such a delivery is even desired at all.
  • [0111]
    Some embodiments may include a payment processing service 109. In some embodiments, payment processing service may be configured to receive information about a credit and/or debit card transaction and facilitate a charge being placed with the credit and/or debit card. The payment processing service may transmit authorization information identifying that the payment has been processed. Payment processing service may include a service such as VeriFone. Such a service being used to provide payment processing to a merchant is well known. For example, a merchant may swipe a credit card into a payment processing device, which may transmit information about the credit card to the payment processing service. The payment processing service may verify the credit card and authorize a charge. In response the payment processing service may send authorization information to the payment processing device which may then print a receipt that a customer signs. It should be recognized that this is one non-limiting example of a use of a payment processing service to process payments. Further examples of a payment processing service, payment processing device, and/or operation not involving processing payments are described elsewhere herein.
  • [0112]
    Some embodiments may include one or more communication networks 111. Such networks may include one or more combination of networks as desired. For example, such networks may include a telephone line, cable lines, cellular links, Wi-Fi, DSL lines, face-to-face communication, the Internet and/or one or more local area networks. Each communication link may be separate or may be shared. For example, a network used by a user to access the system may include a local network and/or the Internet. A network used to communicate between a payment processing service and a merchant may include a dedicated link, a telephone line, and/or the Internet. A network used to communicate between a payment processing service and the system may include a dedicated link, a telephone line, and/or the Internet. Various information desired to perform any desired method or transaction may be communicated in any desired format through such networks.
  • [0113]
    Some embodiments may include a payment processing device 113 Such a device may be disposed at a merchant (e.g., at a host stand, at a cashier, at a kitchen, etc.). An example of such a device interacting with a payment processing service to process a credit card payment is described above. FIGS. 2 and 3 show non-limiting example payment processing devices that may be used in some embodiments. Such devices may be obtained from VeriFone, Inc. of Canton Mass., Hypercom of Scottsdale Ariz., and Ingenico of Alpharetta Ga. Some non-limiting examples, include the ZON Jr., Tranz models, Omni models, Vx Solutions models, NURIT models, Hypercom T models, and so on.
  • [0114]
    FIG. 2 illustrates one example payment processing device. Such a device may include a credit card and/or debit card processing device. Such a device may allow a merchant to authorize and/or place a charge on a credit card and/or debit card for a product and/or service. Such a device may communicate with a payment processing service to authorize and/or place such a charge, as described above and known in the art. A payment processing device may include a communication interface, a printer, a keypad, a display, a card reader, a processor, a memory, a peripheral device, and so on.
  • [0115]
    As indicated at 201, a payment processing device may include a communication interface such as a Wi-Fi connection, a SIM card, an Ethernet port, a telephone plug, a modem, and so on. Such an interface may provide a continuous connection with a payment processing service. For example, a dedicated data line may connect the device to a communication network such as the Internet. Such an interface may provide an on demand connection with a payment processing service (e.g., demand by the merchant and/or the payment processing service). For example, a telephone call may be made to provide a connection to and/or from the device. In some embodiments, communication using the interface may be encrypted to protect customer privacy.
  • [0116]
    As indicated at 203, a payment processing device may include a printer. Such a printer may be used, for example, to output a receipt for a customer and/or for a signature. In some embodiments, such a printer may be used to output order information and/or other non-payment information.
  • [0117]
    As indicated at 205, a payment processing device may include a display. Such a display may be used to display information about a payment. Such a display may be used to display a menu through which a merchant may navigate (e.g., to enter payment details, to enter non-payment details, to view information, and so son). Such a display may be used to output non-payment information. Such a display may output information determined by a processor and/or memory of the device and/or information received from an outside source (e.g., payment processing service).
  • [0118]
    As indicated at 207, a payment processing device may include a keypad. Such a keypad may be used to navigate a menu. Such a keypad may be used to input information into the device (e.g., payment information, non-payment information, confirmation information, menu navigation commands, and so on). Such a keypad may be used to enter PINs, security codes, and so on.
  • [0119]
    As indicated at 209, a payment processing device may include a card reader. Such a card reader may be used to read a magnetic strip from a credit and/or debit card. Some embodiments may include an RFID or other wireless card reader that may wirelessly read card information from a credit and/or debit card. Such card readers are known in the art. In some embodiments, a keypad may be used to enter card information.
  • [0120]
    A payment processing device may include any desired computing device components. For example, a payment processing device may include a processor 211 and/or memory 213 that may execute and/or store a program and/or data. For example such a program may perform a method regarding payment transaction that allows a merchant to use the device to authorize and/or charge a payment to a credit card and/or debit card. Such a program may perform a method regarding non-payment transactions such as a method described elsewhere herein.
  • [0121]
    Some embodiments may include connections to peripheral devices, such as external printers, external display screens, cash registers, and so on. Such devices may take the place of and/or work with included devices. For example, in some embodiments, a cash register may input payment totals to the payment processing device, a printer may be used to printer reports or information on larger paper, and so on.
  • [0122]
    FIG. 3 illustrates another example payment processing device. In this example, such a payment processing device includes a wireless handheld model that may be used in some embodiments. Such a device may, in some embodiments, communicate with a base station. Such a device may perform similar functionality of the example shown in FIG. 2.
  • [0123]
    It should be recognized that FIGS. 2 and 3 are given as examples only and that other embodiments may include any form of payment processing device. Such a device may include any form of input and/or output such as hearing and/or vision impaired methods of input and/or output and so on. Some embodiments may include audio input and/or output, haptic input and/or output, and so on.
  • [0124]
    In some embodiments, operation of a payment processing device to perform a payment may include receiving information about a sale, such as from a keypad entry, from an external device such as a cash register. Then, information about a payment method may be received. Such information may be received by entry of information using a keypad and/or display, swipe and/or tap of a card and so on. Payment method information may be transmitted to a payment processing service, and an authorization may be received from the payment processing service indicating that the payment has been authorized and/or charged to a credit and/or debit card. An output of such authorization may be provided through the device or a peripheral, such as a display and/or a receipt.
  • [0125]
    Various actions may be performed through using a payment processing device by accessing one or more menus. Some example menu prompts and interactions are shown in FIG. 4 that may allow a merchant to enter payment information, tip information, print receipts, and so on. Operation through such a menu may result in one and/or two way communication with a payment processing service and/or output through a display, printer and/or other device. Additional menus may be used to extend functionality to non-payment options as explained elsewhere herein.
  • [0126]
    In some embodiments, a payment processing device and/or payment processing service may be configured to provide non-payment related services such as service related to the system 101 of FIG. 1. For example, such a device and/or service may allow communication regarding orders, delivery, confirmation, and so on that may be received by system 101. Such communication may be one way and/or two way. Such communication may be originated by system 101 through a payment processing service.
  • [0127]
    In operation, a system such as that shown in FIG. 1 and/or any other entity may perform one or more processes to provide non-payment functionality using a payment processing device of a merchant. In some embodiments, to enable such functionality, as described elsewhere herein, one or more programs may be configured to accept input, respond to input, receive and/or transmit data, and/or perform any desired function. Such a program may, for example, include a program on a memory, such as a memory of a server, of a computer system of a payment processing service, of a payment processing device, of a user's computing device, and/or any other device.
  • [0128]
    As discussed elsewhere herein, some embodiments may include different formatting of information and payments for various entities. In some embodiments, a single system 101 may interact with multiple payment processing systems that may use different formatting and/or payment schemes. An arrangement may be made between such entities to provide for proper formatting, work arrangements, payment, and so on.
  • [0129]
    FIG. 5 illustrates one non-limiting example method that may be used in some embodiments. Such a process may be performed, for example by system 101, payment processing service 103, a user, and/or a payment processing device of a merchant in any combination desired. Such a process may be performed by one or more servers and/or processors. In some embodiments, such a process may be performed at least in part by a system such as system 101.
  • [0130]
    Some embodiments may include receiving and/or transmitting information about one or more items and/or services that may be ordered from one or more merchants. Such information may be received from a merchant and/or another source. Such information may be received by a provider of a referral and/or delivery service.
  • [0131]
    As indicated at block 501, some embodiments may include transmitting information about items and/or services that may be ordered from one or more merchants to one or more users of a referral and/or delivery service. Such transmitting may be performed, in some embodiments by system 101. Such information may be transmitted via the Internet to be displayed as a webpage in a web browser operated by a compute ring device of the user. Such information may include be a menu of food items offered by one or more restaurants. In some embodiments, a user interface may include for example, a website, mobile device interface and so on. The user interface may allow the user to select a particular merchant or merchants and products and/or services from the particular merchant or merchants. In such implementations, for example, the user interface may display a representation of available merchants (e.g., a list of merchants that may be in an identified geographical location associated with the user and/or merchants that are open at the time) to which the user may submit orders. In some embodiments, a listing or other representation of items and/or services may be displayed in a user interface for the user to select from.
  • [0132]
    In some embodiments, the user may select one or more items and/or services and in response, an indication of an order be transmitted from the user. In some implementations, the selected products and/or service may be stored in a “shopping cart” of a website and the order may be submitted for processing after the user has finished selecting products and/or services, for example, after the user has proceeded to a checkout interface through which the user may authorize payment for the products and/or services, as is known in the art.
  • [0133]
    As indicated at block 503, some embodiments may include receiving an order for one or more items and/or services from one or more users. Such receiving may be performed, in some embodiments by service 101. The order may include any information desired to identify desired items and/or product, any desired merchant, and/or any desired characteristics about an order (e.g., time, allergies, delivery location, special request, etc.). In some implementations, the received indication of the order may include one or more electronic messages. In some embodiments, an indication of an order may include an order for products and/or services from multiple merchants.
  • [0134]
    In some embodiments, in which such an order includes items and/or services from multiple merchants, a different method of forwarding onto each merchant may be used. The following description describes an example in which an order is for a single merchant, but it should be recognized that similar methods may be used in other embodiments.
  • [0135]
    In some embodiments, payment information may be received with and/or separate from order information. Such payment information may be used to make a payment for an order. In other embodiments, payments may be arranged with a merchant and/or a delivery agent.
  • [0136]
    As indicated at block 505, some embodiments may include transmitting the order to a payment processing service. Such transmitting may be performed by system 101. Such transmitting may be performed in response to the receiving of block 503. In some embodiments, a determination may be made as to which of a number of payment processing services a merchant uses and transmission may be made o that payment processing service. This may be performed based on a lookup table that includes information about the merchant (e.g., information obtained at the time of sign up). Such transmission may include transmitted over a communication network in any desired format.
  • [0137]
    As indicated at block 507, some embodiments may include formatting an indication of the order for transmission to a payment processing device. Such formatting may be done at a system 101 and/or at a payment processing service 109 before and/or after block 505. Such formatting may be performed in response to the receiving of block 503, a receiving of the transmission of block 505, and so on. Such formatting may include placing order information into a form that may be understood by the payment processing device. This may include, for example, a proprietary format, an XML format, any desired packet format, and so on. Such a format may be a same or different format than the format in which the order is received form a user.
  • [0138]
    As indicated at block 509, some embodiments may include establishing a connection to a payment processing device of the merchant. Such establishing may be done at a system 101 and/or at a payment processing service 109 before and/or after any other actions. Such establishing may be done in response to receiving a transmission of block 505, in response to a receiving of block 503, and so on. A connection to the payment processing device may be established by a payment processing service in a similar manner for payment processing activities. Establishing such a connection may include establishing a dedicated connection with the payment processing device that may have been established prior to the user placing an order, for example. Establishing such a connection may include establishing a transaction specific connection that may be established in response to the user placing the order. Establishing a connection may include, for example, transmitting connection information to an IP address, making a telephone call to a line connected to the payment processing device, and so on.
  • [0139]
    As indicated at block 511, some embodiments may include transmitting an order to a payment processing device of the merchant. Such transmitting may occur at a system 101 and/or at a payment processing service 109. Such transmitting may take place using the established connection from block 509 and using a format from block 507. Such transmitting may be performed in response to a receiving of block 503, a receiving of a transmission of block 505, an establishing of block 509, and so on. In some embodiments, the transmitted order information may include details about an order. The detail may include abbreviations that may be established by the merchant. The details may include prices, times, quantity, item names, a pickup time, a delivery time, a delivery address, a delivery agent, and so on. In some embodiments, transmitting may include transmitting confirmation information. Such confirmation information may include a confirmation code, a confirmation image, a confirmation telephone number and so on. Such information may be used so that a merchant may confirm receipt and acceptance of an order. Such confirmation information may include, for example, a CRC number or other error detecting codes.
  • [0140]
    In some embodiments, transmitting and/or formatting may include arranging so that output is properly output. For example, a system may determine an end of a description of one item in an order so that the description is less than a maximum number of characters for an output method (e.g., one receipt page, one page of a display). In some embodiments, this may be performed by a payment processing device such as sing a memory or program and/or a menu system.
  • [0141]
    As indicated at block 513, some embodiments may include receiving a confirmation of the order from the merchant. Such receiving may occur at a system 101 and/or at a payment processing service 109. In some embodiments, such confirmation may be received from a payment processing device of the merchant. For example, a merchant may enter a confirmation code from the order transmission into the device and that code may be transmitted from the device (e.g., using the established connection and/or another connection) and received. As another example, a merchant may enter a confirm button associated with an order and/or one or more items in the order to confirm the order and/or the items. Such confirmation may be transmitted from the device (e.g., using the established connection and/or another connection) and received.
  • [0142]
    In some embodiments, in which confirmation is received by a payment processing service that is separate from a referral and/or delivery service system, such a confirmation may be to the referral and/or delivery service system and received thereby. In some embodiments, in which such a confirmation is received by a system 101 and/or in which system 101 and a payment processing service are a same entity, such forwarding may not be performed.
  • [0143]
    In some embodiments, confirmation may take any number of forms that may or may not involve a payment processing device. For example, in some embodiments, a confirmation may include calling a number and/or receiving a call and inputting a code or other information about the order (e.g., to an automated system), sending an email, entering information on a website, faxing, and so on.
  • [0144]
    Some embodiments may include retrying to send information about an order if confirmation is not received within a desired time period. Such a time period may include any amount of time such as 1 minute 5 minutes 10 minutes 20 minutes, and so on. Such retrying may be performed by a payment processing service and/or a system 101. Retrying may be performed any number of times desired. Retrying may include other methods of sending order information other merchant. After some threshold number of failed retries the user may be notified that the order cannot be completed and may be given an opportunity to place a new order with a different merchant. For example, a system may determine other merchants that may service the user with similar items and/or service and may provide an indication of those opportunities to the user (e.g., through a user interface, through a phone call, through an email, and so on). such information may be presented to a customer service representative that may then call the user with the information. Any other method of facilitating re confirmation and/or order change may be performed in an embodiment.
  • [0145]
    Some embodiments may include facilitating delivery. Such facilitation may be performed by a merchant and or system 101. Such facilitation may be performed in response to a receipt of a confirmation. Such facilitation may include sending information to one or more delivery agents. In some embodiments, information about a delivery may be transmitted along with order information to a merchant. Such information may include a time of delivery and/or pick up for an order, an authorized delivery agent, contact information for the delivery agent, and so on. Such information may be sent along with order information, at a different time from order information, and so on. For example, such information may be sent after a delivery agent confirms that they will be able to make the delivery which may be after the order information is sent to the merchant.
  • [0146]
    In some embodiments, a payment may be exchanged among merchant, user, delivery agent, referral and/or delivery service, payment processing service, and/or any other desired entity. In some implementations, for example, the user may provide a payment to delivery agent. Delivery agent may provide the payment to the merchant who may later provide the payment to any other desired entity. The delivery agent may take a or receive a payment at that time or a later time.
  • [0147]
    It should be recognized that while FIG. 5 illustrate one non-limiting example method, other embodiments may include any method desired which may include same or different actions in any desired order and/or number. It should be recognized that while the above description is given in terms of order information, that similar methods may be used to provide any desired non-payment information, such as reservation information, shipping of goods (e.g., wines, ingredients, and so on) information, and/or any other desired non-payment information. It should be recognized that while non-payment information may be communicated in some embodiments, payment information may be communicated in addition to such non-payment information to and/or form the merchant at any desired step in any method (e.g., a payment method and/or authorization may be transmitted to the merchant along with the order and/or in response to a confirmation by the merchant). It should be recognized that action of such a process may be performed by any entity as desired in various embodiments.
  • [0148]
    Some embodiments may include one or more processes that may be performed by a system 101, a payment processing service 109, a user, and/or a merchant in any combination. FIG. 6 illustrates a non-limiting example of such a process. Such a process may be performed by one or more servers and/or processors. In some embodiments, such a process may be performed at least in part by a payment processing service.
  • [0149]
    As indicated at block 601, some embodiments may include receiving an order. Such an order may be received in any format. Some embodiments may include formatting the received information to another format such as that used by a payment processing device. In some embodiments, the order may be received in such a format. The order may be received from system 101 by a payment processing service. The order may be received by system 101 from a user. A recipient of the order may determine how to communicate the order to a merchant.
  • [0150]
    As indicated at block 603, some embodiments may include establishing a connection to a merchant. Such establishing may be performed in response to receiving of block 601. Such establishing may be performed by system 101 and/or a payment processing service. Such establishing is described elsewhere herein.
  • [0151]
    As indicated at block 605, some embodiments may include transmitting the order to a payment processing device of the merchant. Such transmitting may be performed in response to the establishing of block 603, in response to the receiving of block 601, and so on. Such transmitting may be done by system 101 and/or a payment processing service such as over the established connection in the desired format. Such transmitting is described elsewhere herein.
  • [0152]
    As indicated at block 607, some embodiments may include responding to input from a merchant made through the payment processing device. For example, input from the merchant may be received, and output to the merchant may be made in response to the input. Input may include, for example, a button being pressed, such as a more information and/or page up or down button. In some embodiments, such responses may be performed by the payment processing device. For example, an entire order may be sent to the payment processing device and a portion may be shown per screen. When a next page button is pressed, the payment processing device may access a memory to display the next portion of the order. In some embodiments, such responses may be performed by system 101 and/or a payment processing service. For example, only portions of an order may be transmitted at a time that correspond to what is shown to a merchant on a display and when a merchant presses a next page button more information may be transmitted.
  • [0153]
    As indicated at block 609, some embodiments may include receiving confirmation of the order from the merchant. In some embodiments, such receiving may be performed by system 101 and/or a payment processing service. Such receiving is described elsewhere herein.
  • [0154]
    Some embodiments may include retrying transmission if a confirmation is not received. Such retrying may be on an order by order basis and/or an item by item basis. Retrying is described elsewhere herein.
  • [0155]
    As indicated at block 611, some embodiments may include transmitting the confirmation to one or more destination. Such transmitting may be performed din response to the receiving of block 609. Such transmitting may be performed by system 101 and/or a payment processing service. For example, such transmitting may include transmitting to system 101 from a payment processing system, transmitting to a user from system 101, and so on. Such transmitting is described elsewhere herein.
  • [0156]
    It should be recognized that while FIG. 6 illustrate one non-limiting example method, other embodiments may include any method desired which may include same or different actions in any desired order and/or number. It should be recognized that while the above description is given in terms of order information, that similar methods may be used to provide any desired non-payment information, such as reservation information, shipping of goods (e.g., wines, ingredients, and so on) information, and/or any other desired non-payment information. It should be recognized that while non-payment information may be communicated in some embodiments, payment information may be communicated in addition to such non-payment information to and/or form the merchant at any desired step in any method (e.g., a payment method and/or authorization may be transmitted to the merchant along with the order and/or in response to a confirmation by the merchant). Some embodiments of FIG. 6 may be performed by a payment processing service. Some embodiments may be performed by any desired entity. It should be recognized that action of such a process may be performed by any entity as desired in various embodiments.
  • [0157]
    Some embodiments may include one or more processes that may be performed by a system 101, a payment processing service 109, a user, a merchant, and/or a payment processing device in any combination. FIG. 7 illustrates a non-limiting example of such a process. Such a process may be performed by one or more servers and/or processors. In some embodiments, such a process may be performed at least in part by a payment processing device.
  • [0158]
    As indicated at block 701, some embodiments may include connecting to a payment processing service. Such connecting may be performed by a payment processing device of a merchant. Such connecting may include accepting a connection request such as picking up a phone call, using a modem to demodulate information, accepting an incoming packet over a data cable, and so on. Such connecting may include making a connection request such as dialing a phone number, using a modem to modulate information, transmitting an outgoing packet over a data cable, and so on. In some embodiments, as discussed elsewhere, such a connection may include an on demand connection, a constant connection and so on. In some embodiments, a periodic, continuous, occasional, constant and so on connection and/or periodic polling of a payment processing service for non-payment information may be initiated by a payment processing device. In some embodiments, a payment processing service may push such information to a payment processing device when it is available in addition to and/or as an alternative to such polling.
  • [0159]
    As indicated at block 703, some embodiments may include receiving information about an order. Such information may be received by a payment processing device of a merchant. Such information may be received from a payment processing service, a system 101, a user, and/or any other entity. Such information may be received in a format readable by a payment processing device. Such information may be received using an established connection from block 701. Such information may indicate one or more ordered items, one or more confirmation items, one or more delivery and/or pickup items, one or more special instructions, and/or any other desired information. Such information may be received in multiple portions at a same or different time (e.g., items ordered first then later delivery confirmation, first page first, then second page after a next page button is pressed, all information at one time, etc.). Various examples of such information and transmitting such information that may apply in some embodiments are given elsewhere herein.
  • [0160]
    As indicated at block 705, some embodiments may include outputting information about an order. Such outputting may be performed by a payment processing device and/or accessory. Such outputting may be performed in response to the receiving of block 703. Such outputting may include displaying onscreen, printing, and so on. In some embodiments, outputting may include outputting such that a item break does not occur at a screen break or a paper break, for example. Outputting may include outputting confirmation information that may be part of and/or received with the order information. Various examples and discussions of outputting are described elsewhere herein that may apply.
  • [0161]
    As indicated at block 707, some embodiments may include receiving input indentifying a confirmation of the order. Such receiving may be performed by a payment processing device. Such receiving may include receiving input from a merchant, such as button presses, touch screen presses, and so on. Such confirmation may be on a per order basis and/or a per item basis. Such confirmation may include a confirmation for a delivery method and/or time. Such confirmation may include a change to one or more elements of the information, such as an adjustment to the delivery time. Such confirmation may include entry of a code, navigation of a menu, pressing of a confirmation button, and so on. Various examples of confirmation that may apply are desired elsewhere herein.
  • [0162]
    As indicated at block 709, some embodiments may include transmitting confirmation information. Such transmitting may be performed by a payment processing device of a merchant. Such transmitting may be in response to the input received by the payment processing device. Such transmitting may be using the established connection of block 701. Such transmitting may include transmitting in a desired format and/or formatting to that format. Such transmitting may include transmitting to a payment processing service, a system 101, a user, and so on. Various examples of transmitting that may apply are desired elsewhere herein.
  • [0163]
    In some embodiments, if a confirmation includes change to an order item, such as a change to a time and/or price is entered, such information may be communicated to a payment processing service and/or any other entity and reported to the user, the delivery agent, a credit card, and so on. Such a recipient may properly any timing and/or expectations as desired.
  • [0164]
    Various other examples of confirmation that may be used in some embodiments and that may not involve transmitting, such as using an automated telephone system, are described elsewhere herein.
  • [0165]
    Some embodiments may include transmitting additional information, such as cancellation of and order, non-confirmation information, order change information, and so on.
  • [0166]
    Such information may be transmitting in response to input form a merchant, in response to receiving information from a payment processing service, unilaterally by the merchant, and so on.
  • [0167]
    Some embodiments may include making food and/or other items, delivering such items to a user, processing payment, performing a service for a user, and so on.
  • [0168]
    It should be recognized that while FIG. 7 illustrate one non-limiting example method, other embodiments may include any method desired which may include same or different actions in any desired order and/or number. It should be recognized that while the above description is given in terms of order information, that similar methods may be used to provide any desired non-payment information, such as reservation information, shipping of goods (e.g., wines, ingredients, and so on) information, and/or any other desired non-payment information. It should be recognized that while non-payment information may be communicated in some embodiments, payment information may be communicated in addition to such non-payment information to and/or form the merchant at any desired step in any method (e.g., a payment method and/or authorization may be transmitted to the merchant along with the order and/or in response to a confirmation by the merchant). Some embodiments of FIG. 7 may be performed by a payment processing device. Some embodiments may be performed by any desired entity. It should be recognized that action of such a process may be performed by any entity as desired in various embodiments.
  • [0169]
    In some embodiments, to facilitate entry of information using a payment processing device, some embodiments may include ea menu. Such a menu may change in response to key presses, touch screen touches, and/or any other input. Display menus for entry of the information in response to key presses. Some example menu prompts and interactions that may be used in some embodiments are shown in FIG. 8.
  • [0170]
    It should be recognized that while some embodiments are described in terms of a restaurant, some embodiments may include a retail store, a service provider, and/or any other desired merchant and/or entity.
  • [0171]
    In some embodiments, various entities may be paid for performance of one or more actions. For example, a delivery agent may be paid for delivering an item, a payment processing service may be paid for processing a payment, a payment processing service may be paid for transmitting non-payment communication, a referral service may be paid for providing a referral. In some embodiments, such payment may come from a merchant, and/or money received by a merchant.
  • [0172]
    Some embodiments may include various methods and/or systems that may facilitate order submission. For example, such orders may be submitted through a user interface such as a website as described elsewhere herein. As another example, such orders may be submitted using an easy order interface. Such an easy order interface may allow a user to submit a favorite order, for example, with a single actuation (e.g., a single or double click on an icon on a desktop). Such an easy order interface may include a hyperlink, a computer program, a software widget, and so on.
  • [0173]
    It is recognized that a user may have a favorite and/or commonly made order. It is recognized that accessing a website in a traditional method may take more time than is needed to place such an order in some embodiments. In some embodiments, an easy order interface may be used to improve the speed and/or efficiency of order placement for example, for such favorite and/or commonly made orders compared to traditional website order entry.
  • [0174]
    FIG. 9 illustrates one non-limiting example method that may be used in some embodiments. Such a process may be performed, for example by system 101, a user, and/or any entity or combination of entities. Such a process may be performed by one or more servers and/or processors. Such a process may be used to implement an easy ordering interface in some embodiments.
  • [0175]
    As indicated at block 901, some embodiments may include establishing an easy ordering interface for an order. In some embodiments, an easy order interface may enable a user to place an order in a non-traditional manner. In some embodiments, an easy order interface may enable a user to place an order through a single actuation (e.g., a single click on an icon, a single click on a link, a double click on an icon, a double click on a link, a press of a button, and so on). In some embodiments, establishing an easy ordering interface may include establishing one or more orders to be placed using the easy ordering interface, establishing a payment method for the one or more orders, establishing an interface for the easy ordering interface, and/or establishing any desired information to place an order may be performed such as establishing a user account and/or information. Such actions may be performed, for example, by a user, by a system 101 and/or by any other desired entity. Such an interface may include an icon (e.g., on a desktop, start menu, etc.). Establishing may include placing an icon on a computing device.
  • [0176]
    In some embodiments, establishing one or more orders to be placed using the easy ordering interface may include receiving a selection of item(s) and/or merchant(s) from a user. Such items and/or merchant may be selected and/or otherwise entered by a user through a user interface, for example. Such a selection may be received by a program and/or processor of a user device. Such a selection may be received by a system 101. Such a selection may indicate one or more items to be ordered using the easy order interface from one or more merchants. Establishing one or more orders may include storing information about the orders. Such information may be stored locally on a user's device, remotely on a system 101, remotely at a merchant, and/or by any desired entity. For example, in some embodiments, such an order may be stored by a computer program operating on a user's computer device, may be embedded in a hyperlink (e.g., as a code, in plaintext, etc.), may be stored at system 101, and so on.
  • [0177]
    In some embodiments, establishing a payment method may include receiving information about a payment from the user. Such information may be selected and/or otherwise entered by the user through a user interface. Such information may include, for example, a credit card number, a debit card number, a corporate account number, a selection of cash payment, and so on. Such information may be received by a program and/or processor of a user device. Such information may be received by a system 101. Such information may be used as a payment method for orders placed using the easy order interface. Establishing the payment method may include storing payment information. Such information may be stored locally on a user's device, remotely on a system 101, remotely at a merchant, and/or by any desired entity. For example, in some embodiments, such information may be stored by a computer program operating on a user's computer device, may be embedded in a hyperlink (e.g., as a code, in plaintext, etc.), may be stored at system 101, and so on
  • [0178]
    In some embodiments, establishing an interface for the easy ordering interface may include storing information on a computing device. Such information may include, for example, computer code, order information, payment information, merchant information, item information, a hyperlink, xml code, user information, a software program, and/or another desired information, Such information may be stored on system 101, by a merchant, on a user computing device, and/or by any otter desired entity. For example, in some embodiments, an icon on a desktop, a start menu, a quick launch menu, and so on by be created that activates a program and/or hyperlink. The hyperlink or program associated therewith may store the information in a plain text and/or code version. For example, clicking on the icon may cause the information to be transmitted from a user to a system 101. In some embodiments clicking on such an icon may cause an indication of the order to be sent to system 101. System 101 may interpret the indication to retrieve the actual order. For example, a code identifying the order may be sent and the system may interpret the code by looking up the stored information at the system 101.
  • [0179]
    As indicated at block 903, some embodiments may include receiving an actuation of an easy ordering interface. Such actions may be performed, for example, by a user, by a system 101 and/or by any other desired entity. Such an actuation may include, for example, clicking on a link, double clicking an icon, pressing a button, and so on. An actuation may be performed by a user when the user desires to place the order. A user, for example, may double click on an icon on a desktop corresponding to the easy ordering interface. The user computer may receive an indication that the user made such an actuation.
  • [0180]
    As indicated at block 905, some embodiments may include transmitting information about the order. Such actions may be performed, for example, by a user, by a system 101 and/or by any other desired entity. Such an action may be performed in response to receiving the actuation. Such transmitting may include transmitting to system 101 from a user computing device. The information transmitted may include actual items for an order, a code identifying an order, and so on. In some embodiments, payment information may be transmitted, information identifying a user may be transmitted, any information desired to complete an order may be transmitted, and so on. In some embodiments, such a transmitting may be performed in response only to receiving an actuation. For example, no further input may be needed and/or requested to may such a transmission. Such a transmission may be made without requesting and/or receiving any and/or additional input from a user (e.g., no request for payment information, no request for password, and so on).
  • [0181]
    As indicated at block 907, some embodiments may include receiving information about the order. Such actions may be performed, for example, by a user, by a system 101 and/or by any other desired entity. Such an action may be performed in response to the transmitting of the information.
  • [0182]
    As indicated at block 909, some embodiments may include processing the order information. Such actions may be performed, for example, by a user, by a system 101 and/or by any other desired entity. Such an action may be performed in response to the receiving of the information. Such processing may include determining items, a user, a payment and so on for the order, such as by using a look up table keyed with the information (e.g., a code). Such processing may include authorizing a charge, such a through a payment processing service. Such processing may include arranging fulfillment of the order, such as by transmitting information to a merchant and/or delivery agent as described elsewhere herein.
  • [0183]
    In some embodiments, processing an order may include facilitating delivery. Such delivery may include delivery of items of an order from a merchant. Such delivery may be facilitated in response to receiving an indication of the actuation, in response to receiving information about an order, and so on. In some embodiments, such facilitation may be performed without requesting input from a user.
  • [0184]
    In some embodiments, processing an order may include completion of a payment. Such a payment may be for items from a merchant. Such a completion may be performed in response to receiving an indication of the actuation, in response to receiving information about an order, and so on. In some embodiments, such completion may be performed without requesting input from a user. Such a payment may include a charge on a credit card.
  • [0185]
    In some embodiments, delivery may include delivery of a pre-established set of items from a merchant to a user. In some embodiments, completion of a payment may include completion of a pre-established payment for the items. Such pre-establishing may include establishing with the user interface, prior to receiving an indication of an actuation, prior to an actuation, and so on (e.g., by storing information at a system 101, at a user device, and so on).
  • [0186]
    In some embodiments, such a method may allow a user to have an order fulfilled with no further action on the user's part, such as no entry of information in an interface. Accordingly, a single actuation may allow a user to place an order. Some embodiments may include asking a user for confirmation to avoid accidental order placement. Some embodiments may include notifying a user if the order cannot be fulfilled such as because a merchant is closed.
  • [0187]
    Although an example is given with a single order and/or merchant, it should be recognized that any number of orders and or merchants may be included in other embodiments. For example, an order may include a weekly shopping list from a plurality of merchants that the user would like placed each week. An order may include a series of orders that are run through in order before resetting (e.g., first click is order 1, second click is order 2, then repeat). In some embodiments, separate easy ordering interfaces may be established for different orders.
  • [0188]
    It should be recognized that although some examples are given in terms of a single transaction, some embodiments may include any number of transactions. For example, a plurality of orders may be placed using an easy ordering interface in response to a plurality of actuations of the easy ordering interface. A plurality of indications of actuation of an interface may be received by a system 101 and in response, respective orders may be fulfilled.
  • [0189]
    It should be recognized that while FIG. 9 illustrate one non-limiting example method, other embodiments may include any method desired which may include same or different actions in any desired order and/or number. It should be recognized that action of such a process may be performed by any entity as desired in various embodiments.
  • [0190]
    In some embodiments, a service that provides referrals of orders to one or more merchants, such as some embodiments that may be described herein, may charge a fee to a merchant for such referrals. Such a fee may include a flat dollar amount, a percentage, a fee based on a service level, a fee based on a number of orders referred, and so on. For example, in some embodiments, a merchant may pay a base fee for a high level of service that includes an unlimited number of orders free of charge after the base fee is paid. In some embodiments, a merchant may pay no base fee, but may be charged a higher amount per order referred. In some embodiments, a merchant may pay, for example, about 10% of a purchase price associated with an order to a referral service and/or delivery service that refers the order to the merchant and/or provides delivery service for the order.
  • [0191]
    In some embodiments, a merchant, referral service, delivery service, and/or one or more service providers may be separate entities acting to provide a delivery and/or other service to a customer. Some embodiments may include allocating a payment for an order among the service providers. In some embodiments, each such service provider may agree to a allocation before performing a service (e.g., through a bidding process, through a contractual agreement, and so on). In some embodiments, a merchant, a referral service provider, and/or any other entity may receive the payment and provide a portion to each other service provider according to the allocation. In some embodiments, the payment to the service providers may be taken from a payment to the merchant for the purchase price, from a portion due a referral provider (e.g., 10% cut), as a service fee charged to a customer, and so on.
  • [0192]
    Some embodiments may include various methods and/or systems that may facilitate delivery and/or providing/choosing any service provider. Some examples of choosing a service provider are given below in terms of a delivery agent, but it should be recognized that similar and/or alternative methods may be used for choosing any desired service provider. In some embodiments, facilitating delivery may include determining a delivery agent. Such a delivery agent may be a delivery agent of a merchant, a delivery agent of a user, a delivery agent of system 101, a third party delivery agent, and so on. In some embodiments, determining a delivery agent may include determining a delivery agent through an auction. In some embodiments, determining a delivery agent may include determining a delivery agent based on a price quote for the delivery by each of a plurality of delivery agents. In some embodiments, determining a delivery agent may include determining a delivery agent based on a time of delivery quote for each of a plurality of delivery agents. Some embodiments may use such a method to determine a most effective delivery agent for one or more orders. Some embodiments may include delivery agents bidding on an opportunity to make one or more deliveries. Some embodiments may include determining a delivery agent based on a rating of the delivery agent. Some embodiments may include determining a delivery agent based on a qualification of the delivery agent.
  • [0193]
    In some embodiments, third party delivery agents, proprietary delivery agents, customers to whom a delivery is to be made, merchants themselves, and/or any other desired entity may compete in such an auction. For example, a third party service may place a bid against a delivery agent that normally works with a merchant and/or is paid by a merchant in an attempt to undercut the merchants normal delivery service in some embodiments. In some embodiments, a customer may place a bid and/or maximum delivery charge above which the customer will pick up from the merchant himself. In some embodiments, if no delivery agent bids less than the customer's bid, delivery may not be provided. In some embodiments, the customer may receive the bid amount. In other embodiments, the customer may not receive the bid amount. In some embodiments, third party delivery agents (e.g., cab drivers, truck drivers, college students with cars, and so on) may bid against one another.
  • [0194]
    It is recognized that a merchant may desire to provide delivery services to a user. It is recognized that a plurality of individuals may act as delivery agents independent and/or in connection with one or more merchants. In some embodiments, an auction may be used to determine an effective delivery agent for an order from a particular merchant. Such auction system may be used to determine an effective service provider for any desired service (e.g., a packer, a receiver, a merchant itself, and so on).
  • [0195]
    FIG. 10 illustrates one non-limiting example method that may be used in some embodiments. Such a process may be performed, for example by system 101, a user, a merchant, and/or any entity or combination of entities. Such a process may be performed by one or more servers and/or processors. Such a process may be used to determine a delivery agent for one or more orders.
  • [0196]
    As indicated at block 1001, some embodiments may include receiving information about one or more orders. Such information may include a location for delivery, a location for pickup, information about a merchant, information about items, a delivery time and/or time period, and so on. When location is referenced, it may include a location of a user, a location of a delivery, a location of a merchant, a location of a pickup, a location of a delivery agent, and/or any desired location. Various examples of order information and receiving are described elsewhere herein. Such an action may be performed, for example, by a user device, a merchant, system 101, and so on.
  • [0197]
    Some embodiments may include determining that an auction process for determining a delivery agent and/or any desired service provider should be performed. Such a determination may include determining that no other delivery agent has already been contracted to perform the delivery. Such a determination may include determining that a merchant does not have their own delivery service. Such an auction process may include part of the method in FIG. 10. Such an auction process for example, may include receiving bids, and determining that a delivery agent should perform a delivery based on the bids.
  • [0198]
    In some embodiments, such a determination may include making a determination that a auction should be used to determine a merchant from a set of merchants that may provide a good, a packer that may pack goods at a merchant, a picker that may pick goods from a set of goods at a merchant (e.g., pick fruit from a grocery store), a receiver that may receive goods at a delivery location, a payment processor from a set of payment processors, a searcher from a set of possible searchers (e.g., a person that searches for a good at a plurality of merchants), and/or any desired service provider such as one that may be involved in a placement, fulfillment, delivery, payment, and so on of a good from one location to another location.
  • [0199]
    As indicated at block 1003, some embodiments may include transmitting order information to one or more delivery agents and/or other service providers. Such information may be transmitted to a plurality of delivery agents that are part of an auction system for a particular geographical area. Some embodiments may include providing order information to one or more delivery agents in any manner including transmission. Such information may and/or may not include all information about an order (e.g., some information such as identities may be kept hidden for privacy reasons). Such information may include a next and/or prior service provider in a chain of service providers (e.g., a packer from whom receipt of goods is made, a receiver to whom goods are delivered). Delivery agents may register with such a service and indicate what types of orders to receive, when they operate, where they operate, a form to receive information in, and so on. Such transmitting may include transmitting via a central website that displays such information to delivery agents such as those that sign in. Such transmitting may include sending an email, a text message, a website, an electronic message, and so on. Such transmitting may include transmitting to a software program run by a delivery agent. Such transmitting may be performed in response to receiving the order information, may be performed in response to determining that an auction for a delivery agent should be performed, in response to determining that a merchant does not have a proprietary delivery agent, and so on.
  • [0200]
    In some embodiments, such transmitted information may include a desired level of specificity. For example such information may include exact information and/or inexact information regarding time, locations, and so on. For example, an indication of a location may include an exact location (e.g., an address), an approximate location (e.g., a cross street, a region, a distance (e.g., exact, approximate) from another location, and so on).
  • [0201]
    Some embodiments may include filtering transmission of such information to service providers with desired characteristics. For example, such information may only be transmitted to a service provider that is determined to possess a desired characteristic. Some example characteristics may include, an insurance amount, a rating by other customers, a rating by people in a social network (e.g., a social network of the customer, a social network of a merchant, etc.), a license to perform an action (e.g., a license to transport a particular good), location of agent, source, destination, etc., equipment required and/or desired to perform a service (e.g., a truck large enough to carry a good, a refrigerated vehicle for transportation of refrigerated goods), a desired bonding method fulfilled (e.g., social security number provided, address provided, money provided, insurance obtained, university ID provided, a background check performed, and so on), availability during a desired time, and/or any desired characteristic. In some embodiments, an originator of order information may submit such filtering characteristics (e.g., a customer submitting an order, a merchant that submits information about an order for delivery to a customer). In some embodiments, a default set of filtering criteria may be used.
  • [0202]
    As indicated at block 1005, some embodiments may include receiving the transmitted order information. Such information may be receiving by one or more delivery agents. Such information may be received, for example, by a program run by a delivery agent and displayed to the delivery agent through a user interface. Such information may be received by a delivery agent through a website or other such interface. In some embodiments, filtering ma take place at a receipt end. For example, in some embodiments received and/or transmitted information may indicate a desired characteristic and a receiving entity may determine if an associated entity meets such a characteristic before acting on the received information to initiate a possible bid.
  • [0203]
    In some embodiments, a delivery agent may determine a bid to be placed regarding the delivery of the order. Such a bid may include a cost for making the delivery. Such a bid may include a time and/or time frame for making the delivery. The time and/or time frame may match and/or not match the time and/or time frame associated with an order. Such a bid may be made based on an availability of a delivery agent. For example, if a delivery service has one of a group of deliverers available at a time, the delivery service may place a bid on making the delivery. A cost of the bid may be based on a cost of performing the service, such as distance traveled by the agent to perform the service, risk taken to perform the service, and so on. A time may be based on an availability of a delivery agent and/or a distance to travel for the order. A computer program may be configured to calculate such information and determine the bid and place the bid in response to receiving such information and/or information about other obligation of a delivery service. A delivery agent may refer to an individual and/or a plurality of agents working together. Some embodiments may include entering information about a bid in a user interface, through an API, and so on.
  • [0204]
    In some embodiments, a portion of a bid may be based on a location. In some embodiments, for example, a portion of a bid may be based on a location of a delivery agent and/or employee of a delivery service (e.g., an employee that may perform the delivery). For example, in some embodiments, a price for a bid may be based on a distance that a employee may need to travel from a current location to a merchant location and then to a user location to perform a delivery. As another example, a time and/or time frame may be based on a location. For example, a time may be based on a distance that an employee may need to travel from a current location to a merchant location and then to a user location.
  • [0205]
    In some embodiments, a price may be based on any desired characteristic of an order and/or service to be provided. For example, such a price may be based on a quantity of food items, a weight of items, a cost of items, a risk of providing delivery (e.g., risk of being late, danger of a neighborhood, risk of being caught in traffic, and so on). It should be recognized that although examples are given in which a bid is based on cost, location, and other characteristics that a bid may be based on anything as desired.
  • [0206]
    As indicated at block 1007, some embodiments may include may include receiving an indication of a bid for delivery of the order. Such an indication may be received by a device of a delivery agent. Such an indication may be received in response to receiving information about the order. Such a bid may include a cost of performing a delivery, a time for completion of the delivery, and so on.
  • [0207]
    As indicated at block 1009, some embodiments may include transmitting the bid. Such transmitting may be performed in response to receiving the indication of the bid. Such transmitting may include transmitting from a delivery agent. Such transmitting may include transmitting to a user, a merchant, a system 101, and so on.
  • [0208]
    As indicated at block 1011, some embodiments may include receiving a plurality of bids to make a delivery. Such bids may be received in response to transmissions of the bids. Such bids may be received from delivery agents. Such bids may be received through a website. Such bids may include information about costs, times and/or time frames, and so on.
  • [0209]
    It should be recognized that any number of bids may be received from any number of delivery agents and/or service providers, that any number of delivery agents and/or service providers may determine, receive, transmit bids in any manner as desired in any embodiment.
  • [0210]
    In some embodiments, one or more bids may include an indication of a price. Such a price may include a price to be paid to the delivery agent if the bid is accepted and the delivery is performed. Such a price may include a percentage of a referral fee, a percentage of a price for goods, a flat fee, and so on. For example, in some embodiments such a price may include a percentage (e.g., 25%) of a fee paid to a referral service for referral of an order to a merchant.
  • [0211]
    In some embodiments, one or more bids may include an indication of a time and/or time frame. Such a time and/or time frame may include a time and/or time frame that a delivery agent agreed to perform the delivery if the bid is accepted.
  • [0212]
    As indicated at block 1013, some embodiments may include selecting a delivery agent based on the plurality of bids. Such a selection may be performed at an end of a time period for bidding. Such a selection may be performed when a bid with a desired property is received. Such a selection may be performed in response to receiving one or more bids. Such a selection may be performed by a system 101, a user, a merchant, and so on. Such a selection may be based on a cost associated with the bid. For example, a lowest cost bid may be selected. Such a selection may be based on a reputation of delivery agent. For example, a bid from an agent with a better reputation may be selected over a bid from an agent with a lower reputation. Such a selection may be based on a time and/or time frame associated with a bid. For example, a bid with a time and/or time frame that most closely matches a time and/or time frame associated with an order may be selected. In some embodiments any desired property may be used to base a selection. In some embodiments any combination of properties may be used to selected a delivery agent based on bids. For example, a formula that weighs various characteristics may be used to select a bid that results in the highest overall weight output by the formula when the various properties are input into the formula. Any method of determination may be used in any embodiment, including selection. Such selection may be based on one or more of the bids.
  • [0213]
    In some embodiments, bids associated with service providers that have and/or do not have one or more characteristics may be filtered out. Such filtered out bids may not be used to determine which service provider to select. For example, in some embodiments, bids from delivery agents that do not have a minimum rating, a desired equipment, a desired bonding, and so on may be filtered out.
  • [0214]
    In some embodiments, such filtered out bids may be used nonetheless if no other bids are received, and/or if the other bids that are received are determined to be inadequate. For example, in some embodiments, if the other bids are too high, then the filtered out bids may be used (e.g., if they are 25% higher, 50% higher, 50$ higher, 10$ higher, and so on). As another example, if there are not enough other bids, then one or more of the filtered out bids may be used. In some embodiments, using the filtered out bids may include using the filtered out bids in an order based on price, in an order based on another characteristic, and so on. For example, in some embodiments if the filtered out bids are filtered out based on a lack of a characteristic (e.g., rating), then the bids with the closest characteristic to the desired characteristic may be used before other bids (e.g., filtered out bids with highest rating may be used before those with lowest rating). For example, if a 4 star rating is required, but no bids with 4 star ratings are received, then bids with 3 stars may be used instead.
  • [0215]
    In some embodiments, such selection may include selecting a lowest priced bid. For example such selecting may include determining that a price associated with a selected delivery agent is lower than one or more other bids. In some embodiments, such selection may include selecting a bid that matches a time and/or time frame associated with an order. For example, such a selection may include determining that a time and/or time frame associated with a selected delivery agent matches a time and/or time frame of an order. It should be recognized that such examples of selection are given as examples only and that any desired method may be used. For example, some embodiments may include using an algorithm that includes at least one of a time and/or time frame associated with an order, a time and/or time frame associated with one or more bids, and/or a price associated with one or more bids. For example, such an algorithm may include a formula. For example, such an algorithm may weigh time differences and cost to determine a lowest cost delivery agent that may delivery near a desired time.
  • [0216]
    As indicated at block 1015, some embodiments may include facilitating delivery using the selected delivery agent. Such an action may be performed in response to selecting the agent. Such an action may be performed by a merchant, a user, system 101, and so on. Facilitating delivery may include transmitting information about the delivery to the delivery agent, arranging payment, making a payment, and so on. Such information may include additional information to that transmitted to elicit a bid, such as order details, location information, and so on. Such facilitating may include transmitting a request to perform the delivery. A delivery service provider pay receive such information and facilitate delivery, for example by performing the delivery, by notifying an employee, and so on.
  • [0217]
    It should be recognized that although various example are given in terms of determining a delivery agent after an single order is placed, that some embodiments may include determining a delivery agent before an order is placed and/or for more than one order. For example, an auction may be used for a next order, for orders in a time period in the future, for a next set of orders, for orders in a geographic area, for orders in a slice of time in the future, for orders on particular days, for orders in a month, for a series of orders, for a group of orders, and so on.
  • [0218]
    It should be recognized that when a delivery agent is referenced herein that such a reference is given as a non-limiting example only. Some embodiments may include a delivery service provider with any number of employees. Some embodiments may include a delivery service provider that acts as an agent. Some embodiments may include a delivery service provider that acts as a principle.
  • [0219]
    It should be recognized that although various examples are given in which a delivery agent places one bid, that some embodiments may include any desired auction system. For example, a traditional auction may be used, a reverse auction may be used, a silent auction may be used, a secret auction may be used, an open auction may be used, and so on. In some embodiments, an auction may have a reserve price and/or time. In some embodiments, an auction may have a limited period of time. In some embodiments, a delivery agent may submit changes to a bid and/or updated bids. In some embodiments a delivery agent may be able to see information about competing bids. In some embodiments, information about other delivery agent bids may be provided to a delivery agent. In some embodiments more than one bid may be received from a delivery agent.
  • [0220]
    In some embodiments, for example, a delivery agent may receive an indication of a bid by another delivery agent. In response to receiving such an indication, the delivery agent may determine a bid to be placed. Such a bid may be a second bid by the delivery agent. Such a bid may be for a lower price than a first bid by the delivery agent. Such a bid may be for a better time than the first bid. Such a bid may be for a lower price and/or better time than the bid by the other delivery agent. Such a bid may be based on cost of providing the service. In response to determining such a bid, an indication may be transmitted.
  • [0221]
    It should be recognized that while FIG. 10 illustrate one non-limiting example method, other embodiments may include any method desired which may include same or different actions in any desired order and/or number. It should be recognized that action of such a process may be performed by any entity as desired in various embodiments.
  • [0222]
    It should be recognized that although various examples are given with multiple entities acting as intermediaries, that some embodiments may include no such intermediaries, more such intermediaries, ad/or different such intermediary. For example, some embodiments may include a distributed system. Some embodiments may include a system where a user, a payment processing service, and/or a system a system 101, and/or payment processing device perform any role that may have been performed by one of the others. For example, a user may directly communicate with a payment processing device, may perform payment processing, and so on. Such actions and/or other actions may be performed by any entity in any combination.
  • [0223]
    Various examples may refer to a system such as system 101. It should be recognized that such references are given as examples only and that system 101 and FIG. 1 are both given as examples only. Various embodiments may include any system(s) in any configuration and/or no system that may or may not include any characteristics similar to system 101 and any reference to system 101 may refer to any other system with or without such characteristics.
  • [0224]
    It should be recognized that although various embodiments are given in terms of a good being delivery and/or otherwise provided, that some embodiments may relate to providing a service rather than a good. For example, selection of a service provider of any sort may be made in some embodiments, selection of goods to be used by a service provider may be made in some embodiments, selection of sub-contractor(s) to a service provider may be made in some embodiments, providing any such selected item may be made in some embodiments, and so on.
  • Multiple Agent Examples
  • [0225]
    Some embodiments may have been described in terms of a single delivery agent and/or other service provider performing a delivery or other service from a single and/or multiple merchants to a single and/or multiple customers. In some embodiments, multiple delivery agents and/or other service providers may be used to make a single and/or multiple deliveries and/or perform any desired service involving a single and/or multiple sources, and/or a single and/or multiple customers and/or destinations. Some embodiments may include facilitating using multiple service providers to provide a service as desired. FIG. 11 illustrates an example process that may be performed in some embodiments.
  • [0226]
    One to One with Multiple Agents Examples
  • [0227]
    In some embodiments, multiple service providers may perform a similar function to facilitate providing a service that involves a single source and a single customer. For example, one or more goods may be delivered from a single source to a single destination by multiple delivery agents. As another example, multiple pickers and/or packers may pick and/or pack goods at a single merchant for delivery to and/or pickup by a single customer. Some embodiments may include determining that multiple service agents should be used, selecting the service agents, coordinating the service agents, facilitating the service being provided, and so on.
  • [0228]
    Some embodiments may include receiving information about an order as indicated at block 1101. Such information for example may indicate any desired parameters that may define an order (e.g., source, destination, goods, etc.). Receiving information about an order is described elsewhere herein.
  • [0229]
    Some embodiments may include determining that multiple service agents are to be used to fulfill an order as indicated at block 1103. Such a determination may be based on one or more characteristics of an order, one or more bids received for the order, availability of one or more service agents, locations of one or more service agents, locations of one or more of a source and a destination, information received from one or more service agents, and so on.
  • [0230]
    For example such a determination may be based on a combination of bids by two separate service agents to complete parts of an order that sum to a completion of the order being lower than other bids.
  • [0231]
    As an example, a determination may be made based on a size of an order and/or a capacity of a service agent to perform a service. For example, in some embodiments, a determination may be made that two or more delivery agents may be used to fulfill an order based on a size of the order and a carrying capacity of each of the delivery agents. A single merchant may otherwise be required to make multiple rips to fulfill the order. In some embodiments such a determination may be made even if there is an option to fulfill the order with a single merchant that has a larger carrying capacity. For example, if bids in an auction process are received and the plurality of delivery agents result in a lower cost than the single larger carrying capacity delivery agent, it may be determined that a plurality of delivery agents should be used to fulfill the order.
  • [0232]
    As an example, a determination may be based on an availability of one or more service agents to perform a service. For example, in some embodiments, a determination may be made that two or more delivery agents may be used to fulfill an order based on an availability of the two or more delivery agents to perform a portion of a transit for the delivery. For example, in some embodiments, each of two or more delivery agents may be available to perform a portion of a delivery but not the entire delivery. In some embodiments, when combined (e.g., if an order is passed from a first to a second agent to complete delivery), such portions may sum to a complete delivery. Determining that such two or more delivery agents should be used to complete portions of transit that may sum to a whole delivery may be made based on cost (e.g., to minimize cost of delivery), based on availability (e.g., because no agent is available to make a complete delivery), to maximize agent utilization (e.g., because the two or more agents were unoccupied, because the two or more agents were headed in a direction for the delivery anyways, etc.), and so on.
  • [0233]
    Some embodiments may include selecting two or more service agents to fulfill an order as indicated at block 1105. Such selection may be made based on bids for performing one or more portions of an order. For example, such delivery agents may be selected to minimize a cost of delivery while fulfilling desired characteristics of the delivery (e.g., time, place, rating, etc.). Such a selection may be made based on availability of delivery agents, locations of delivery agents, routes to make a delivery, and so on. For example, such selection may be made to maximize utilization of delivery agents, rearrange positions of delivery agents so that they are more evenly distributed and/or distributed in a more ideal and/or desired pattern, minimize unused delivery agents, minimize time for a delivery to take place, and so on. Such selection may take place as a part of the determination of block 1103, in connection with such determination, as a single action and/or set of actions as block 1103, separate from such determination, and/or with or without any desired relationship to such determination.
  • [0234]
    For example, in some embodiments, a delivery agent that is proximate to a source and headed towards a destination already may be selected to perform a first part of a delivery. A second delivery agent that is going proximate to the destination and going to pass near the first delivery agent as the first delivery agent heads towards the destination may be selected to finish the delivery. The two may meet and pass good(s) for an order from the first to the second delivery agent for delivery. A first and second picker that are at and/or near a merchant may be selected for performing picking functions at the merchant. The pickers may meet to combine picked goods into one order and/or may meet with a delivery agent to pass the goods to the delivery agent separately. Such a picker may include a delivery agent and/or a merchant. Some embodiments may include facilitating meetings of such agents (e.g., communicating times and/or locations to the agents, communicating location identities to the agents, and so on).
  • [0235]
    In some embodiments, service agents and/or other sources may provide information to a service to allow such selection of a plurality of delivery agents. For example, delivery agents may provide gps location information, route information, carrying capacity information, and so on. In some embodiments, cab drivers may act as delivery agents, truck drivers may act as delivery agents, people on their way home from work and/or running errands may act as delivery agents. Such agents may individually send information through a cell phone application, through an email, through text message, and so on to a referral service provider. In some embodiments, a central hub, such as a taxi cab service provider, a truck driver dispatch, a website that monitors gps locations of individuals (e.g., a website such as facebook.com that may include location tags of updated messages indicating a location when the update is made) and so on may report such information to a referral service provider.
  • [0236]
    Some embodiments may include coordinating and/or facilitating a fulfillment of an order using a plurality of service agents as indicated at block 1107. For example, information may be communicated to each of the plurality of service agents identifying how to fulfill an order. For example, a first delivery agent may be given a time and place to be to meet a second delivery agent to relay a good, a first delivery agent may be given contact information for the second delivery agent, and so on. Any desired information that may allow an agent to help fulfill the order may be provided to the agent. Such providing may include transmitting, sending via email, texting, providing to a central communicator (e.g., a cab dispatch), and so on.
  • [0237]
    Some embodiments may include additional service providers that may help facilitate two or more service providers provide a service. For example, in some embodiments, a middle man may act to hold goods at a meeting point. For example, a first agent may drop off goods at a second merchant, and the second delivery agent may pick up the goods from the second merchant. Any person and/or location may be used as a middleman between two delivery agents. Such a middle man may be provided with a fee for services. Such a middle man may be contacted by a referral service to make an offer for such services in response to determining that such a middle man may be desired for facilitating a delivery. Such a middle man may submit bids to act as a middle man through an auction system.
  • [0238]
    It should be recognized that various examples of using multiple agents to fulfill an order from one location to another location are given as examples only.
  • [0239]
    Multiple to One with Multiple Agents Examples
  • [0240]
    In some embodiments, multiple service providers may perform a similar function to facilitate providing a service that involves multiple sources and a single customer. For example, one or more respective goods may be delivered from a plurality of respective sources to a single destination by multiple delivery agents. As another example, multiple pickers and/or packers may pick and/or pack goods at a plurality of respective merchants for delivery to and/or pickup by a single customer. Some embodiments may include determining that multiple service agents should be used, selecting the service agents, coordinating the service agents, facilitating the service being provided, and so on.
  • [0241]
    Some embodiments may include, for example, a delivery from a plurality of sources to a single destination. In some embodiments, such delivery may involve the use of multiple delivery agents. For example, two or more sources may be serviced by respective delivery agents. In some embodiments, delivery from such multiple sources may be sped up by using multiple delivery agents when compared to a single delivery agent. For example, such multiple delivery agents may perform delivery work simultaneously rather than sequentially. A process similar to process 1100 may be used in some embodiments in which multiple delivery agents may be used to deliver from multiple sources to a single destination.
  • [0242]
    Some embodiments may include determining delivery agents for two or more sources of a plurality of sources (e.g., each source, some sources). In some embodiments, a single delivery agent may service more than one of source (e.g., sources that are geographically proximate, sources proximate to a route). Some embodiments may include a maximum number of sources that may be serviced per delivery agent (e.g., about 5). Some embodiments may include a maximum distance between sources before an additional delivery agent is added to servicing an order (e.g., 1 block, 5 miles). Some embodiments may not include distance in such a calculation if the distance is along a route to a destination. Some embodiments may reference a distance from a route (e.g., expected route, usual route, identified route, ideal route).
  • [0243]
    In some embodiments it may be desirous to have delivery at a single time rather than at multiple times even if multiple delivery agents are used. In some embodiments coordination and/or facilitating of delivery may include a plurality of delivery agents combining goods from multiple sources for delivery by a single delivery agent. Information regarding such a combining may be provided to each delivery agent (e.g., time, location, contact information, and so on regarding a meet up for combining with one or more other delivery agents).
  • [0244]
    It should be recognized that various examples of using multiple delivery agents to fulfill an order from multiple sources to single location are given as examples only. Other embodiments may include multiple agents of any type to perform any desired service from multiple sources for any number of customers.
  • [0245]
    One to Many with Multiple Agents Examples
  • [0246]
    In some embodiments, multiple service providers may perform a similar function to facilitate providing a service that involves any number of sources (e.g., one or more) and multiple customers. For example, one or more goods may be delivered from a single source to a plurality of destinations by multiple delivery agents. As another example, multiple pickers and/or packers may pick and/or pack goods at a single location for delivery to and/or pickup by multiple customers. Some embodiments may include determining that multiple service agents should be used, selecting the service agents, coordinating the service agents, facilitating the service being provided, and so on.
  • [0247]
    Some embodiments may include a delivery from a single source to a plurality of destinations. In some embodiments, such delivery may involve the use of multiple delivery agents. For example, one source may be serviced by a single delivery agent that then delivers a first good to one destination and passes on a second good to a second delivery agent for delivery to a second destination. In some embodiments, delivery to multiple destinations may be sped up by using multiple delivery agents when compared to a single delivery agent. For example, such multiple delivery agents may perform delivery work simultaneously rather than sequentially. In some embodiments, using multiple delivery agents in such a way may minimize cost by reducing redundant travel time. A process similar to process 1100 may be used in some embodiments in which multiple delivery agents may be used to deliver from a single location to multiple destinations.
  • [0248]
    Some embodiments may include determining delivery agents for each destination of a plurality of destinations. In some embodiments, a single delivery agent may service more than one of destination (e.g., destinations that are geographically proximate). Some embodiments may include a maximum number of destinations that may be serviced per delivery agent (e.g., about 5). Some embodiments may include a maximum distance between destinations before an additional delivery agent is added to servicing an order (e.g., 5 miles). Some embodiments may not include distance in such a calculation if the distance is along a route to a destination.
  • [0249]
    It should be recognized that various examples of using multiple delivery agents to fulfill an order from a single source to multiple destinations are given as examples only. Other embodiments may include any number of agents (e.g., 1 or more, 2 or more) of any type to perform any desired service from any number of sources (e.g., 1 or more, 2 or more) for any number of customers (e.g., 1 or more, 2 or more).
  • [0250]
    Payment and Multiple Agents Examples
  • [0251]
    In some embodiments in which multiple service agents are used, payments for one or more orders may be allocated among the agents according to one or more bids for services, pre-arranged fees, percentages of the service performed, and so on. In some embodiments, payments may be made and/or allocated at a later time to an agent for performing the service (e.g., at an end of a month when accounts are settled). In some embodiments, payments may be made and/or allocated before a service is performed, up completion of a service, and so on. In some embodiments, an agent may collect money from a customer and/or a source and may exchange money for payment with one or more other agents. In some embodiments, a delivery and/or referral service may mail checks, credit accounts, identify that a payment is due, and so on to facilitate making and/or allocating a payment. It should be recognized that any method of allocating and/or distributing payment may be used.
  • [0252]
    Correction of Service Errors Examples
  • [0253]
    In some embodiments, an error in providing a service may occur. Some embodiments may include determining that such an error occurred, is likely to occur, will occur, and/or so on. In response to such a determination, some embodiments may include taking one or more actions to correct and/or prevent the error.
  • [0254]
    Determining that such an error occurred, will occur, is likely to occur, and/or other such determinations may be made in response to received information. For example, such a determination may be made in response to, emailing, and so on to a referral/delivery service provider to identify that a service has not been performed. As another example, such a determination may be made in response to a service provider communicating that they will not be able to perform the service. As yet another example, such a determination may be made in response to location information identifying that a service provider is not in a location to perform a service (e.g., gps coordinates show that a picker is not at a merchant to pick when they should be).
  • [0255]
    In some embodiments, if an error occurs with respect to a service, a bidding process may be used to determine a new agent to take over the first agent's responsibility. In some embodiments, a first agent may be excluded from bidding on the service and/or any service for a period of time, a number of bids, forever, until restitution is made, and so on in response to the error occurring. In some embodiments, the first agent may be responsible for paying the chosen agent for any additional cost and/or to refund a customer for the first agent's failure. In some embodiments, a system may allocate payments to the second agent from the first agent accordingly, from the first agent to the customer accordingly, and so on.
  • [0256]
    Various Combination Examples
  • [0257]
    Various examples of multiple agents acting together to fulfill one or more orders are given as examples only. It should be recognized that any combinations of agent actions may be used in any embodiment. For example, a single delivery agent may act to deliver one order, relay a second order, pick a third order, and perform other desired action(s) for any desired order or otherwise (e.g., deliver a passenger somewhere if the agent is a cab driver, shop for groceries if the agent was going to do that anyways, return a book to a library if the library is along a route, etc.).
  • [0258]
    Device and/or Tracking Examples
  • [0259]
    Some embodiments may include one or more computing devices that may perform one or more desired actions to facilitate fulfillment of one or more orders by one or more agents. For example, some embodiments, may include a computing device that performs actions related to tracking of locations of one or more service providers, routes, locations of sources, locations of destinations, locations of merchants, locations of intermediaries, and so on. Such a system may receive gps, address, and/or other location information identifying allocation of a service provider, a merchant, a source, a location, and so on from any desired source (e.g., a central dispatcher, a website that monitors locations, an agent, a customer, a merchant, and so on). One or more mapping techniques may be used to determine routes, distances, meeting points, and so on with respect to the locations. Monitoring such location information and/or using one or more mapping techniques may allow a system to determine if and when two agents meet (e.g., to relay a good), where a good meeting place may be, and so on.
  • [0260]
    A system monitoring such information may determine that an agent is not performing a service (e.g. if the agent is not going in a proper direction, not in a proper location, etc.). As discussed above, in response to determining the agent location is not correct, the system may take a desired action to correct and/or prevent an error. For example, the system may find a replacement, may retransmit information, may request a verification that the service will be performed as desired, and so on. Location information may be received form gps devices, a merchant, a computer system, a central gps system (e.g., a cab driver dispatcher, New York City cab monitoring service, etc.).
  • [0261]
    In some embodiments, one or more computer devices may perform any desired actions to determine partial services, complete services, and/or facilitate bidding for such sub and complete services. For example, in some embodiments, a system may identify deliveries and/or tasks that need service through an interface. The system may receive bids to complete the services and/or parts of the services. The system may determine that a set of bids for a set of parts makes up a whole service. The system may treat that set of bids as a bid for a complete service. In some embodiments, a system may establish an auction for a part of a service if the system receives and/or otherwise determines that another part of the service has been bid on and/or assigned to another service agent. If a bid is received for the other auction, the combined set of bids may be treated as a bid for the complete service. It should be recognized that any method for determining a desire for bids on parts of a service, determining that a service agent should service part of n order, soliciting interest in performing part of a service, comparing costs of choosing multiple service agents over a single service agent, and so on may be used and/or performed by a computer device as desired.
  • Brick and Mortar Examples
  • [0262]
    Some embodiments may include facilitating delivery from a merchant based on actions of a customer. A customer may identify goods for an order, identify delivery desires, make payments, and so on proximate to the merchant. Information may be transmitted to and/or received by a delivery/referral service, and a delivery may be facilitated in response. Such an embodiment may allow a customer to establish delivery of goods from a merchant while proximate to a merchant (e.g., by using a delivery kiosk, by using a computing device, by interacting with an employee, and so on).
  • [0263]
    For example, in some embodiments, a customer may be at a store and arrange for delivery of one or more goods sold by the store. In some embodiments, arranging for such a delivery may include accessing a web page (e.g., from a smart phone, laptop, kiosk, etc.) to enter information about a delivery, interacting with an employee of the merchant who may enter delivery information through a POS terminal (e.g., a cash register, a credit card processing interface), laptop, telephone, and/or other device, sending a text or other communication and so on. Some embodiments may include an identification of a set of goods for an order, an identification of delivery desires, a receipt and/or transmission of delivery information, a facilitation of delivery, an allocation of money, and/or any desired actions.
  • [0264]
    Some embodiments may include identifying one or more goods. Such identification may include a customer choosing one or more goods offered for sale by a merchant. Such a customer may bring the goods to a POS terminal for checkout, pay for goods, and so on as is known by shoppers. Such identifying may include entering information into a POS terminal (e.g., by an employee). Such identifying may include receiving UPC and/or other identification information (e.g., by a processor of a POS terminal, by a kiosk, by a referral and/or delivery service). In some embodiments, a POS terminal may identify the goods based on information entered (e.g., UPC scans, selections through a keypad). In some embodiments, such identifying may include identifying based on an order number, determining and order number that represents the goods, and so on. An order number may be used to identify the order (e.g., a receipt may be printed with an order number that may be used to identify the goods). Such identifying may be made by a POS terminal, a kiosk, a delivery/referral system, and so on.
  • [0265]
    Some embodiments may include identifying one or more delivery parameters. Such delivery parameters may include, for example, delivery times, delivery destinations, whether a customer must sign for delivery, names of allowed recipients, price for delivery, and/or any other information that may define a delivery. Such identification may be made by a customer, by a device, by an employee, and so on. For example, an employee may operate a POS terminal (e.g., an employee may ask a customer for such information and enter it into a POS terminal). Such identification may be made by a delivery/referral service system (e.g., such a system may receive information identifying delivery parameters). Such identification may be made by a computer system (e.g., a kiosk into which a customer may enter such information).
  • [0266]
    Some embodiments may include communication regarding delivery and/or order information. For example, in some embodiments, a delivery/referral system may receive information identifying one or more orders to fulfill (e.g., information that indicates that an order number is to be delivered from a location to another location, the identified goods and/or delivery parameters). In some embodiments, such information may be transmitted, for example, from a kiosk into which a customer or other user may have entered information related to the delivery, from a POS terminal into which an employee has entered information related to the delivery, from any device into which any entity has entered information related to the delivery (e.g., a smart phone, a telephone, a laptop, and so on). Such information may be communicated in a form of an electronic message that may be interpreted in a desired manner. Such information may be communicated in response to identifying such information.
  • [0267]
    Some embodiments may include facilitating delivery of the goods from the merchant to the destination. Such facilitating may include the communication of information discussed above. Such facilitation may include communication any information, and/or performing any other actions that may aid in and/or perform the delivery of an order. Various examples of actions that may be performed to facilitate a delivery are given elsewhere herein. Such facilitating may be performed by a delivery and/or referral system as described herein.
  • [0268]
    Some embodiments may include allocating a payment. For example, in some embodiments, a portion of a payment for the order may be allocated to one or more service agents and/or a delivery/referral service (e.g., allocated to a delivery agent and/or a delivery/referral provider). In some embodiments, a customer may make a payment above the purchase price to pay for the delivery (e.g., as part of the sale transaction at a POS terminal, as part of a separate transaction through a kiosk or smart phone, etc.). In some embodiments no such extra payment may be made, but rather a portion of the price paid for the goods sold by the merchant may be allocated to pay for such services. Allocation may be performed by a POS terminal, a kiosk, a delivery/referral system, and so on. Some embodiments may include settling such an allocation by transferring money. Such allocation may be performed in response to determining that a service has been performed, in response to determining that a service has been requested, in response to a facilitating of a delivery, and so on.
  • [0269]
    In some embodiments, facilitating a delivery may include facilitating a pickup of one or more goods from a merchant. In some embodiments, a pickup may take place from a merchant where an order is placed. In some embodiments, a pickup may take place elsewhere. For example, in some embodiments, a pickup may take place at another merchant of a same chain that is located closer to the destination of the delivery (e.g., a different Best Buy store than where the customer places the order). In some embodiments, a pickup may take place from a warehouse rather than a store. Some embodiments may include communication regarding the pickup location (e.g., as discussed above such as to a delivery agent). Some embodiments may include determining such a location for pickup. Such a location may be determined based on a desired of a merchant, based on an inventory level, based on a distance of travel between source and destination, and so on. Some embodiments may include communicating an identity of a delivery agent to a merchant to authorize the agent to make the pickup. Some embodiments may include communicating a bonding information (e.g. a password, an ID, etc.) to one or more of the merchant and/or delivery agent to authorize the pickup. Some embodiments may include determining such bonding information. Such communication and/or determining may take place in response to choosing a delivery agent to fulfill an order.
  • [0270]
    Some embodiments may include one or more computing devices that may act to facilitate such delivery. For example, in some embodiments, a POS terminal may take one or more actions (e.g., transmitting delivery information, identifying an order and/or delivery information, determining a location for pickup, receive entry by an employee, identify an order number, provide one or more interfaces for entry of information, allocate payment), a kiosk or other device operated by a customer may take one or more actions (e.g., receive order number information, receive goods information, receive delivery information, transmit information, provide one or more interfaces for entry of information, determine pickup location, allocate payment), a delivery and/or referral system may take one or more actions (e.g., facilitate delivery, auction a delivery route, receive order, good, and/or delivery information, arrange for delivery, transmit delivery information to delivery agents, allocate payment), and/or any computing device may take any desired action.
  • [0271]
    As another example such as one illustrated in FIG. 12, some embodiments may include a point of sale terminal 1201 configured to receive information about one or more items purchased at a merchant by a customer, receive payment information for the purchase of the one or more items, receive information about a destination 1203 for a delivery of the one or more items, and transmit information about the delivery to a computing device 1205 of a delivery service to arrange for the one or more items to be delivered from the merchant to the customer; and a computing device of a delivery service configured to receive the information about the delivery from the point of sale terminal, initiate an auction to determine which of a plurality of delivery agents should deliver the items from the merchant to the customer, select a delivery agent 1207 based on the auction, and facilitate delivery of the items from the merchant to the customer using the selected delivery agent. Such a point of sale terminal may include a cash register.
  • Mobile Device Examples
  • [0272]
    Some embodiments may include identifying goods by a mobile device (e.g., a smartphone). For example, a customer may scan a UPC code of a good into a smartphone as an identification of the good. Such identification of the good may be used to facilitate delivery of the good.
  • [0273]
    In some embodiments, identification of goods for an order may be performed by and/or using a portable computing device. For example, in some embodiments, a smart phone and/or cell phone having a camera may be used to identify goods for an order. For example, a customer may take a picture of a product and/or bar code, scan a bar code, enter information identifying a product, and so on. Such information may identify goods for an order. In some embodiments information transmitted about a good may include a picture of the good, a description of the good, a code (e.g., a UPC) identifying the good and so on. Such information may be sent to a delivery agent, merchant, picker, packer, and so on to facilitate delivery.
  • [0274]
    In some embodiments, information identifying goods for an order may be transmitted to a delivery/referral service. The delivery/referral service may facilitate delivery of the goods to the customer (e.g., a destination identified by the customer). Various examples of facilitating delivery are given herein. In some embodiments, facilitating delivery may include facilitating a picking and/or packing of the goods. Facilitating picking of the goods may include transmitting an indication to a delivery agent and/or picking agent of the goods to be picked (e.g., collected for the order). The agent may go to the store and pick the goods from the shelf. In some embodiments, a merchant may pick goods for themselves. For example, a fax or other indication of the goods may be sent to the merchant, the merchant may pick the goods identified. A picking agent and/or a separate packing agent may pack the goods for delivery (e.g., place them in condition for delivery). The picking and/or packing agent may pass the goods on to the delivery agent in embodiments in which the delivery agent does not perform picking and/or packing.
  • [0275]
    In some embodiments, a customer may pay for the goods and/or delivery to the merchant (e.g., by identifying the goods to an employee), may pay for the goods and/or delivery upon delivery (e.g., the delivery agent may accept the payment, the payment may be allocated to the merchant and so on from the received payment), may pay for the goods through the mobile device (e.g., entering credit card or other information before during and/or after placing the order through the mobile device. Payment may be allocated and/or distributed among parties as desired.
  • [0276]
    In some embodiments, any desired characteristics of a delivery may be entered through a mobile device interface and/or transmitted to a delivery/referral system. For example, a customer may identify quantities of a good, time for delivery, location for delivery, and so on through an interface of a mobile device. Such information may be transmitted for use in facilitating delivery of the goods.
  • [0277]
    In some embodiments, merchant information may be included in information identifying an order and/or goods. Such merchant information may identify a merchant. Merchant information may be entered by a user through an interface. In some embodiments, merchant information may include gps coordinates of the merchant. Such information may be transmitted based on the location of the mobile device at a time of scanning or other identification of a good. Such gps information may include an averaging of gps coordinates of a plurality of goods, a plurality of gps coordinates corresponding to respective goods, and so on. For example, such gps coordinates of a plurality of goods may be used by a picking agent to more quickly locate goods (e.g., by going to the gps coordinates). Accordingly, such gps information may be transmitted to a delivery agent, a picking agent, a merchant, and so on. Such gps information may be used to identify a merchant to send payment and/or order information to (e.g., based on recorded gps information of the location of the merchant in a database of merchant gps information. For example, gps coordinates may be matched in a database of merchant gps coordinates by a delivery/referral system to determine a merchant to transmit order information to and/or allocate payments to. It should be recognized that although gps coordinates are given as an example, any location information may be used in various embodiments, such as a triangulated location, an estimated location, a location based on wireless network signals, and so on.
  • [0278]
    FIG. 13 illustrates an example method that may be used in some embodiments. As indicated at block 1301, such a method may include receiving a plurality of respective indications of items captured by a camera of a cellular telephone (e.g., barcodes, pictures). As indicated at block 1303, such a method may include receiving an indication of a payment for the items from the cellular telephone. As indicated at block 1305, such a method may include receiving an indication of a destination for a delivery of the items from the cellular telephone and/or any other order related information (e.g., merchant, location of scans, time of delivery). As indicated at block 1307, such a method may include facilitating delivery of the items to the destination using a selected delivery agent (e.g., selecting an agent to pick/pack, selecting a delivery agent, auctioning service providers, information)
  • [0279]
    Although some embodiments have been described with respect to delivery from one merchant, it should be recognized that a mobile device may be used to enter an order for goods from multiple merchants. Various examples of facilitating delivery from multiple merchants are given herein.
  • Suggestion Examples
  • [0280]
    Some embodiments may include making a suggestion based on locations (e.g., presenting information through a user interface). Such a suggestion may be made in response to an order from a first merchant being placed and/or received. Such a suggestion may include a suggestion related to a second merchant. Such a suggestion related to a second merchant that is proximate to a location and/or route related to the first merchant and/or the customer (e.g., close to the first merchant, close to a route between the first merchant and the customer, close to the customer). Some embodiments may include determining that a second merchant is close to a location and/or route (e.g., within a threshold expected time frame, within a distance threshold). In some embodiments, making a suggestion may be performed in response to such a determination.
  • [0281]
    Some embodiments may include suggesting a merchant and/or goods to a customer. Such a suggestion may be made by a delivery/referral system, by a delivery agent, by a merchant, and so on. Such a suggestion may be made through an interface (e.g., a webpage) that may be used to place an order. In some embodiments, such a suggestion may include a suggestion based on a location (e.g., a location of a merchant, a location of a destination, a location of a service providing agent, a route between one location and another location). For example, some embodiments may include making a suggestion of a merchant and/or good sold by a merchant that is near the merchant for which an order is placed, a merchant that is along a route between the merchant for which an order is placed and a customer, a merchant within a threshold distance from a route between a merchant and a destination, a merchant that is along a route and/or within a threshold distance from a route between a service providing agent and a merchant (e.g., a picker, a deliver agent, a recipient agent, and so on), and so on. In some embodiments, such a suggestion may be based on ordered items and/or user profiles (e.g., a knowledge that a last time an order was placed a second order was also placed, a knowledge that a prior order may have been used such as an order of tissue paper, a knowledge that a favored merchant is near a route, and so on).
  • [0282]
    Some embodiments may include suggesting to a service provider. Such suggestion may include a suggestion based on a location ((e.g., a location of a merchant that the agent is performing a service with respect to, a location of a destination that the agent is performing a service with respect to, a location of a service providing agent, a route between one location and another location). For example, if a delivery agent is making a delivery from a first location to second location, a suggestion may be made that the merchant also make a delivery from a third location that is along the route from the first location to the second location to a fourth location (e.g., one that may be near the second location). Such a suggestion may include identifying an auction that is taking place with respect to a particular service. Some embodiments may include determining one or more locations and/or distances of merchant(s), customer(s), route(s), delivery agent(s), and so on such as by using one or more mapping techniques and/or received location information as discussed herein. Some embodiments may include determining that a suggestion should be made based on such one or more locations and/or distances (e.g., based on a distance being below a threshold, based on an expected additional time being below a threshold, and so on).
  • [0283]
    Some embodiments may include one or more computer systems that may process location information and/or perform one or more actions based on location information. For example, a delivery/referral service may receive information about locations of one or more agents, source information for one or more orders, destination information for one or more orders, routes for one or more deliveries and/or other services, and so on. In some embodiments, such a system may determine a route based on a beginning and ending location (e.g., using a mapping technique, using an outside source such as Google maps, and so on). In some embodiments, locations may be determined based on gps or other location information in a database (e.g., a location of a merchant may be determined based on location information for the merchant stored in the database). In some embodiments, locations may be determined based on location information received about an agent and/or destination (e.g., a gps location of a cab, an address for a delivery). In some embodiments locations may be compared to one another and/or to routes to determine a distance and/or expected time. In some embodiments, a suggestion, assignment, etc. may be facilitated (e.g., information may be transmitted) based on such a comparison (e.g., if the comparison is less than a threshold such as 1 mile). In some embodiments, records regarding distances and/or times may be recorded and used in the future to determine expected times (e.g., through a lookup table of past times between locations).
  • [0284]
    In some embodiments, a referral/delivery service may provide a payment and/or determine a payment to a merchant, delivery agent, and/or other entity that makes a suggestion in response to a customer and/or service agent accepting the suggestion. In some embodiments, a delivery agent may accept a suggested route at a discounted price because the route does not add much time and/or expense to a delivery. Similar acceptance may be made for any service provider (e.g., a picker that is already at a store for another order). In some embodiments in which cost of service providing is passed on to a customer or merchant, an allocation of the cost of the two routes (e.g., or more routes as desired) may be made between the two routes based on the cost of both routes. For example, the cost may be reduced for the first route and increased for the second route such that the second route is not blessed with a lower fee because it was accepted second. In some embodiments, the cost may not be passed along to the customer or merchant, so that the referral/delivery service may take the lowering in price as part of a payment.
  • Purchase Arbitrage Examples
  • [0285]
    Some embodiments may include adjusting a source of goods based on prices of the goods at other sources. FIG. 14 illustrates an example method that may be performed in some embodiments. In some embodiments, a customer may choose one or more goods for delivery from a particular merchant. As indicated at block 1401, some embodiments may include receiving information about one or more goods for an order for a first merchant. In some embodiments, some or all of such goods may be a good offered for sale from a plurality of merchants. In some embodiments, a delivery/referral system may be aware of the location of each merchant and/or the prices for which the goods are offered by each merchant. As indicated at block 1403, some embodiments may include determining that a second merchant offers one or more goods for an order. Such determining may be performed in response to receiving information about an order. In some embodiments, in response to receiving an order for goods from a first merchant and/or determining that one or more goods of the order may be offered by a second merchant, a delivery/referral service may determine that fulfilling at least a part of the order form the second merchant would be advantageous as indicated at block 1405. Such a determination may be made based on a price of the goods offered by the first and second merchant, a location of the first and/or second merchant, a cost of providing delivery services for each of the first and second merchant and/or any desired information. As indicated at block 1407, some embodiments may include facilitating fulfilling at least a part of the order from the second merchant in response to such a determination (e.g., facilitating delivery).
  • [0286]
    For example, in some embodiments, if a good is offered for less money at a second merchant, then the good may be provided from the second merchant rather than the first merchant. In some embodiments, if a second merchant is closer to a destination and/or service provider (e.g., location of and/or route of) than the first merchant, the good may be provided from the second merchant rather than the first merchant. In some embodiments, if it is cheaper to provide a delivery from the second merchant than the first merchant, the good may be provided form the second merchant rather than the first merchant (e.g., if an auction for both deliveries result in delivery form the second merchant being cheaper, then the second merchant may be chosen and the first auction may be cancelled/invalidated). In some embodiments, such comparisons may require a threshold different (e.g., 1 dollar, 1 mile, 10%). Some embodiments may include allowing an auction between merchants to fulfill the order.
  • [0287]
    In some embodiments, a referral/delivery service may provide the customer with any price discrepancy and/or may keep the price discrepancy as a profit. In some embodiments, the service may become a point of returns, complaints, and/or exchanges of the goods. This may place the service as what is viewed as the source of the goods such that the user is not aware of the change from one merchant to another merchant.
  • Wide Syndication Examples
  • [0288]
    It should be recognized that while various embodiments may be described in terms of a delivery agent, that various examples, methods, systems, embodiments, and so on may apply to any desired service provider may be used in various embodiments. For example pickers, packers, payment processors, merchants themselves, receivers, coordinators, intermediaries, and so on may be used in some embodiments. For example, some embodiments may include bids, auctions, filtering, selections, transmitting, receiving, facilitating, determining, selecting, and so on with respect to such service providers in similar and/or different manners than described with respect to delivery agents. For example, a packer at a grocery store and/or a picker at a grocery store may be selected based on an auction process, a merchant itself may be chosen based on such a process for a fungible and/or other good that may be available from more than one merchant, and so on.
  • [0289]
    A referral and/or delivery service may allocate a payment among any services providers that provide a service to fulfill an order. For example, a referral/delivery service may accept a flat fee based on an order amount (e.g., 10% of a fee charged by a merchant). A percentage of such a flat fee may be allocated and/or provided to each service provider that aids in fulfilling an order. The amount and/or percentage may be determined based on one or more auctions and/or set fees. In some embodiments, a referral/delivery service may charge a service fee to a merchant and/or customer to provide each service. Such service fee may be on top of and/or part of a fee for the delivery/referral service. It should be recognized that any method for distributing and/or allocating fees may be used.
  • Bonding Examples
  • [0290]
    Some embodiments may include bonding one or more service providers. Some examples of methods and/or systems that may be used for bonding are described in U.S. patent publication 2009/0083135 entitled Products and Processes for Revenue Sharing and Delivery, which is hereby incorporated herein by reference. In some embodiments, a referral/delivery system may bond and/or request bonding information from a service providing agent before the service providing agent is tasked with performing a service (e.g., on demand in response to a request to perform the service, as part of a registration process for performing any services, and so on). In some embodiments, bonding may include determining that an amount of money is available to forfeit by or on behalf of the agent if the service is not performed. Such an amount may include an amount that is based on a value of a good or service being provided (e.g., a percentage value, an entire value, and so on). In some embodiments, a bonding may include a credential that may be indicative of trustworthiness.
  • [0291]
    In various embodiments, any desired method of bonding a service provider may be used. For example, in some embodiments, a rating of prior users may act as a bonding (e.g., from the service and/or another service such as Yelp), a driving record may act as a bonding, a background check may act as a bonding, a university ID may act as a bonding, a recommendation from a member of a social network may act as a bonding (e.g., of a customer, and/or merchant), and so on. In some embodiments bonding may be performed using a bonding agent. Similar to other service providers discussed herein, such a bonding agent may be chosen and/or bond may be facilitate through such a bonding agent using any desired process or system such as those discussed herein.
  • [0292]
    In some embodiments, indications of such bonding devices may be received by a delivery/referral service and used to determine that an agent is sufficiently bonded for a task. For example, a university ID image may be transmitted from an agent to a service, a driving record may be transmitted from a delivery agent to a service, a third party may transmit desired information (e.g., a state agency may transmit a driving record, a bank may transmit an indication of money available in an account, etc.), and so on. Such information may be processed to determine that an agent has a sufficient level of bonding. In response to such a determination, an agent may be included in an auction (e.g., may be allowed to bid in an auction, may be authorized to bid in an auction, may be notified of an auction, may not be prevented from bidding in an auction), may be chosen for performance of a service, may be transmitted information about a service to be provided, and so on. A customer and/or merchant may indicate a level of bonding desired through a user interface (e.g., a customer may indicate that a university student should be used, that an agent with a rating above 3.5 stars should be used, and so on).
  • [0293]
    For example, in some embodiments, a picker may be bonding based on a rating of people that have used the picker for the merchant. A delivery agent may be bonded based on a driving record received from a state agency. A receiver (e.g., a person that may receive and/or unpacks delivered goods) may be bonded based on having a university ID. Such examples of bonding are given as non-limiting and may be used in any combination for any service provider as desired.
  • Interfacing Examples
  • [0294]
    Some embodiments may include providing an interface and/or API to one or more sources for ordering goods. Such source may include, for example, web pages, brick and mortar stores, POS terminals, mobile devices, and so on. Such an interface may be used to communicate with a referral/delivery service (e.g., to submit requests for delivery). For example, in some embodiments, a website that offers goods for sale may communicate with a referral/delivery service to provide delivery services for the goods, a brick and mortar store may include a POS terminal or other device that may interface with a referral/delivery service to provide delivery service for the store, and so on.
  • [0295]
    In some embodiments, a website that allows for ordering of goods and/or services may interface with a delivery/referral service. For example, some such websites may include stubhub, craigslist, ebay, any merchant's website, grubhub, and so on. In order to provide delivery or other services related to an order, such a website may transmit information to a delivery/referral service. In some embodiments, using such a delivery/referral service for delivery may be one option out of a plurality of options (e.g., a user may be able to select Fed Ex or a delivery service). For example, an interface of the website may allow a user to operate a control to select a delivery service, and/or enter any desired delivery information.
  • [0296]
    Commination between such a website and/or other source may be unidirectional and/or bi directions. For example, a delivery service may communicate a result to a website and/or customer of the website, may confirm information, and so on. In some embodiments, allocations and/or distributions of payments may be performed by the website, by the delivery service, by a delivery agent, and so on.
  • [0297]
    Some embodiments may allow a user to indicate a maximum cost of a delivery service. For example, if a user of a website selects to use the service and an auction is performed to determine a cost of the service, some embodiments may pass the cost of the auction to the customer. The customer may therefore not know the cost of the delivery until after the auction. The user may set a maximum cost such that a delivery may not be performed using the delivery service if the cost exceeds the maximum. In some embodiments such a maximum amount may be used in a reverse auction as a starting price. Another delivery method may be chosen instead (e.g., Fed Ex). In some embodiments, a flat rate may be charged for the delivery service and an auction may not be used, an auction may be used, but the delivery service may keep any difference between the auctions price and the flat rate, and/or any desired method of charging a customer for delivery may be used.
  • [0000]
    Service within Service Examples
  • [0298]
    In some embodiments, a first referral/delivery service may allow other referral/delivery services to interact with the first referral/delivery service. For example, in some embodiments, another delivery/referral service may act as a pass through to the first delivery/referral service (e.g., may collect orders and pass them to the first delivery/referral service). In some embodiments, the other delivery/referral service may offload extra work the first delivery/referral service. In some embodiments, a first delivery/referral service may pay the other delivery/referral service for a referral of an order.
  • [0299]
    In some embodiments, a church, a community group, and so on may establish another referral/delivery service. For example, such other referral/delivery service may operate on a website that lists goods and/or allows for submission of orders. Orders submitted through the website may be communicated to the referral/delivery service from the other delivery/referral service. The other delivery/referral service may receive a payment and/or be allocated a payment for the referral and the referral/delivery service may make the delivery. Accordingly, the other referral/delivery service may make a profit by referring orders to the referral/delivery service.
  • Syndicate Enabling Technology Examples
  • [0300]
    Some embodiments may include providing a payment for a service of an enabling action. For example, in some embodiments, assigning a merchant up to a service may include an enabling service, maintaining a menu may include an enabling service, performing a binding may include an enabling service, maintaining a server may include an enabling service, updating inventories may be considered an enabling service (e.g., so that a delivery service may know where goods are in stock at various merchants to select a merchant to fulfill an order), and so on. Service providers for such enabling services may be syndicated (e.g., auctions, assigned, and so on) to third parties. Such enabling service providers may be provided with a payment (e.g., a portion of a fee earned because of the provided enabling service, a portion of a fee received for each merchant for which a menu is maintained, and so on). Such percentages may be auctioned to various bidders to select one that should provide the service in some embodiments.
  • Group Rewards Examples
  • [0301]
    Some embodiments may include incentivizing one or more users of a delivery/referral service to perform a desired action. For example, in some embodiments, an incentive may be provided in response to one or more users performing an action to encourage the one or more users to perform the action. FIG. 15 illustrates an example of a method that may be used in some embodiments to facilitate group incentivizing. Some embodiments may include determining an incentive, determining a group to which the incentive may apply, determining a goal for the group to gain the incentive, determining whether the group has met the goal based on one or more orders placed by members of the group, facilitating provision of the incentive to the group based on whether the group met the goal, and/or any desired actions.
  • [0302]
    In some embodiments, an incentive may include something that may encourage a user to perform an action. In some embodiments, an incentive may include a reward for performing an action. In some embodiments, an incentive may include something having a monetary value. In some embodiments, an incentive may not have a monetary value. Some example incentives may include money, rebates, points, discounts on prior orders, discounts on future orders, discounts on order(s) that meet a goal, discounts on delivery fees, an increase in point accumulation, and so on. As indicated at block 1501, some embodiments may include determining an incentive. Such determination may take place based on a size of a group, based on a difficulty of a goal, based on an agreement of a merchant to provide an incentive, based on a desire of a referral/service provider, in response to a request from a user, based on an expected effect on users of the group, and so on.
  • [0303]
    Such an incentive may include an incentive for one or more users meeting a goal. For example, such an incentive may include an incentive for a set of users performing one or more actions (e.g., making a number of orders, ordering an amount of money worth of goods, spending an amount of money on delivery charges).
  • [0304]
    Some embodiments may include determining that a goal has been met and in response to such a determination, providing an incentive. Determining that a goal has been met may include determining that a number of orders has been placed by one or more users (e.g., by a group of users), determining that an amount of money has been spent on goods by one or more users (e.g., by one or more users), and so on. Such a determination may be made by a delivery/referral service based on received orders from the one or more users. For example, a delivery/referral service may track orders placed by one or more users and compare such tracked orders to a goal to determine whether a goal has been met.
  • [0305]
    It should be recognized that a goal may include any number of actions that may be organized and/or related in any manner by one or more users that may be organized and/or related in any manner. Some embodiments may include determining a goal to be met to gain an incentive as indicated in block 1503. Such determination may take place based on a size of a group, based on a size of an incentive, based on an agreement of a merchant to provide an incentive, based on a desire of a referral/service provider, in response to a request from a user, based on an expected effect on users of the group, and so on.
  • [0306]
    For example, some embodiments may include a goal related to orders that take place in a day, in a number of hours, in a number of minutes, for a particular meal, in an evening, in a week, in a month, in a year, over a holiday weekend, and so on. Users that place orders during such a time period may receive an incentive if a goal is met. Users in a group of users may receive an incentive even if they did not place an order during such a time. All users may be given an incentive if such a goal is met. Some embodiments may include determining such a period of time. The period of time may be selected based on an event (e.g., a super bowl game, a holiday weekend, etc.), based on a request from users, based on expected demand, and so on.
  • [0307]
    For example, some embodiments may include a goal related to a particular merchant and/or group of merchants. Such a goal may include, for example, a number of orders from a set of merchants, a number of orders from a merchant and so on. Users that order from such a merchant or group of merchants may be provided with an incentive. Users in a group of users may receive an incentive even if they did not place an order from the merchant(s). All users may be given an incentive if such a goal is met. Such a group of merchants may include merchants of a particular type (e.g., Italian merchants) merchants in a particular area (e.g., Chicago merchants), and so on. Some embodiments may include determining a group of merchants based on characteristics of the merchants. Some embodiments may include selecting merchants for a group of merchants based on a demand for the merchants (e.g., high demand merchants may be selected, low demand merchants may be selected), based on new merchant being added to a service (e.g., a group of merchants that includes the new merchant may be selected, Italian merchants may be selected if a new Italian merchant has joined the service), based on requests by users, based on expected demand (e.g., if demand for a type of merchant is expected to be high), based on a holiday (e.g., Indian merchants may be selected based on an Indian holiday occurring), and so on. Some embodiments may include no particular merchant or set of merchants (e.g., any merchant that uses a delivery/referral service).
  • [0308]
    For example, some embodiments may include a goal that relates to a particular group of users and/or a single user. Such a goal may include, for example, a number of orders by users of a group and/or a single user, an amount of money ordered by users of a group and/or a single user, and so on. Users from such a group that make an order towards meeting the goal may receive the incentive. Users in a group of users may receive an incentive even if they did not place an order to meet the goal. All users may be given an incentive if such a goal is met. Some embodiments may include determining the group as indicated at block 1505. Some embodiments may include selecting a group of users. Such a group may include a group based on a social network (e.g., a group based on email contact lists, a group based on a facebook social network). Such a group may include a requested group (e.g., a group selected in response to users' requests to be in the group). Such a group may include a group based on geography (e.g., users in a particular city, users in a distance from a merchant). Such a group may include a group based on any characteristic of a user (e.g., users that have ordered from a merchant associated with a goal in the past, users that tend to order a particular good associated with the goal, users that seem to be in a same socioeconomic status). Some embodiment may allow users to invite other users to a particular group (e.g., may add users if an invite is accepted, may add users upon inviting, invited users may be required to be registered with a delivery service, inviting may include sending an invite to register). Some embodiments may form groups automatically (e.g., based on geographic region, attributes of users, social networks). Some embodiments may limit a group size (e.g., limit the number of users that may be grouped together, limit the number of users that may be invited to a group). Some embodiments may present particular goals based on a group size (e.g., larger groups may be ineligible for some goals, smaller groups may be ineligible for some goals).
  • [0309]
    It should be recognized that various examples of grouping users, grouping merchants, grouping time, and so on related to a goal are given as non-limiting examples only. Any combination of such elements may be used in some embodiments. For example, some embodiments may include an incentive for a group of users that live in a delivery area of 5 new restaurants to place a target number of orders from the restaurants over a weekend. If such a goal is met, the users in the group may receive 1000 extra points (e.g., such as airline points, loyalty points, points that may be used in place of cash for future orders, points that may be used for other goods, points that may have no cash value). As another example, some embodiments may include an incentive for a group of users that live in a city whose football team is playing in the Super Bowl to order a particular amount of money worth of food from pizza restaurants during the Super Bowl. If such a goal is met, users may receive a 10% discount on their orders. It should be recognized that any other types of organization may be used for such goals. For example some embodiments may include a goal related to one or more particular items (e.g., pepperoni pizza), related to a relationship between users and merchants (e.g., merchants that are a distance from users), and/or any desired element.
  • [0310]
    Some embodiments may include arranging one or more incentives with one or more merchants associated with a goal. For example, in some embodiments a merchant may indicate they are willing to take part in an incentive (e.g., they are willing to provide a discount if a goal is met). Some embodiments may include requesting such an indication from one or more merchants. Merchants that agree to such an incentive may be selected for a group. In some embodiments an incentive may be provided by a delivery/referral service and so such arranging may not be performed. Some embodiments may allow a delivery/referral service to provide an incentive without pre-arranging the incentive. Some embodiments may include arranging the incentive with any service provider (e.g., if such an incentive relates to the service such as a discount in delivery fee). In some such embodiment, a group of service providers may be given preference for fulfilling orders related to the goal if they agree to such an incentive.
  • [0311]
    Some embodiments may include tracking one or more goals that may relate to one or more groups of users. For example, a database that stores a plurality of groups' progresses towards respective goals may be updated as orders that cause progress to a goal are placed. Such goals may be tracked for a single user and/or groups of users. For example, a single user may belong to multiple groups that may be attempting to meet multiple respective goals. For example, a user may work towards a weekend goal and a month goal. In some embodiments a user may belong to a single group and/or work towards a single goal.
  • [0312]
    Some embodiments may include a tier of goals. For example, in some embodiments a first incentive may be provided for meeting a first goal, and a second, better incentive may be provided for meeting a high second goal. Any number of tiers may be used. In some embodiments, an incentive may be based on a size of a group and/or a difficulty of meeting a goal. For example, in some embodiments, an incentive may be better (or worse as desired) for larger groups even if a difficulty of meeting a goal for the larger group is not greater (e.g., a goal may scale linearly with a group size but an incentive may scale exponentially). Increasing an incentive as a group size increases may act as an incentive for users to expand use of a service to additional users in some embodiments. Some embodiments may include determining an amount of an incentive based on a size of a goal (e.g., 1% of amount ordered to meet goal). In some embodiments, a tier may relate to a size of a group such that if a group increases its size (e.g., to a next threshold or tier size, by inviting new members to the group), the group may be eligible for a greater incentive. In some embodiments, a goal may be adjusted based on group size.
  • [0313]
    In some embodiments incentives and/or goals may be advertised to one or more users. For examples, in a user interface used to place orders with one or more merchants, an indication of one or more goals, incentives, progress towards goals, group members, and so on may be provided. In some embodiments, through such an interface a user may adjust groups (e.g., join groups, leave groups, establish groups), choose goals, learn about goals, choose incentives, and/or perform any desired function that may relate to incentives, groups, goals, and so on. In some embodiments, a user may be provided with a choice of groups to join, a choice of incentives to receive for achieving a goal (e.g., before and/or after achieving the goal), a choice of goals, and so on. In some embodiments, group members may be able to vote for a goal out of a set of goals to pursue, vote for an incentive to receive out of a set of possible incentives, and so on through such an interface. A highest voted goal and/or incentive may be enabled.
  • [0314]
    Some embodiments may include determining that a goal has been met as indicated at 1507, identifying that a goal has been met, and/or facilitating a provision of an incentive in response to a goal being met as indicated at block 1509. Determining that a goal has been met may include comparing information about one or more orders (e.g., an amount of money) to information about a goal (e.g., an amount of money). If such a comparison shows that, for example, a threshold amount of money has been placed in orders, a determination that the goal has been made may be made. In some embodiments, identifying that a goal has been met may include notifying a merchant, notifying members of a group, and so on. In some embodiments, facilitating a provision of an incentive may include providing an incentive (e.g., crediting an account), notifying a merchant and/or service provider to provide an incentive, and so on.
  • [0315]
    Having thus described several aspects of at least one embodiment of this invention, it is to be appreciated various alterations, modifications, and improvements will readily occur to those skilled in the art. Such alterations, modifications, and improvements are intended to be part of this disclosure, and are intended to be within the scope of the invention. Accordingly, the foregoing description and drawings are by way of example only.
  • XII. Embodiments
  • [0316]
    The following should be understood as embodiments, not as claims.
  • [0317]
    A. An apparatus comprising a non-transitory computer readable medium having stored thereon a plurality of instructions that when executed by a computing device, causes the computing device to perform a method comprising: determining an incentive that may be provided to a group of users of a delivery service; determining a goal for the group of users to collectively meet in order to receive the incentive; determining the group of users of the delivery service; receiving at least one order from at least one user of the group; in response to receiving the at least one order, facilitating at least one delivery fulfilling the at least one order; determining, based on the at least one order, that the group of users has met the goal; and in response to determining that the group of users has met the goal, facilitating provision of the inventive to the group.
  • [0318]
    A.1. The apparatus of claim A, in which facilitating provision of the incentive includes at least one of providing the incentive, and notifying a merchant to whom the at least one order relates to provide the incentive. A.2. The apparatus of claim A, in which determining the group includes determining the group based on a geographic area such that members of the group are in the geographic area. A.2.1. The apparatus of claim A.2, in which the geographic area includes a city and in which no members of the group are outside of the city. A.2.2. The apparatus of claim A.2, in which the geographic area includes a delivery region of a merchant.
  • [0319]
    A.3. The apparatus of claim A, in which determining the incentive includes determining the incentive based on a size of the group. A.4. The apparatus of claim A, in which the goal includes a goal to place a number of orders with the delivery service. A.5. The apparatus of claim A, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders that have a cumulative dollar amount value with the delivery service. A.6. The apparatus of claim A, in which the method further comprises: determining a set of merchants, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders with the set of merchants. A.6.1. The apparatus of claim A.6, in which the at least one order includes an order for at least one merchant of the set of merchants. A.6.2. The apparatus of claim A.6, in which the incentive includes an incentive related to orders placed with merchants of the set of merchants. A.6.2.1. The apparatus of claim A.6.2, in which the incentive includes a discount on orders placed with the merchants of the set of merchants. A.6.3. The apparatus of claim A.6, in which determining the set of merchants includes determining the set of merchants such that a merchant that is new to the delivery service is included in the set of merchants.
  • [0320]
    A.7. The apparatus of claim A, in which the goal includes a goal for a particular amount of time. A.7.1. The apparatus of claim A.7, in which the amount of time relates to an amount of time during which an event occurs.
  • [0321]
    A.8. The apparatus of claim A, in which facilitating provision of the incentive includes at least one of providing the incentive, and notifying a merchant to whom the at least one order relates to provide the incentive; in which determining the group includes determining the group based on a geographic area such that members of the group are in the geographic area, in which the geographic area includes a city and in which no members of the group are outside of the city, in which the geographic area includes a delivery region of a merchant; in which determining the incentive includes determining the incentive based on a size of the group; in which the goal includes a goal to place a number of orders with the delivery service, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders that have a cumulative dollar amount value with the delivery service; in which the goal includes a goal for a particular amount of time, in which the amount of time relates to an amount of time during which an event occurs; and in which the method further comprises: determining a set of merchants, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders with the set of merchants, in which determining the set of merchants includes determining the set of merchants such that a merchant that is new to the delivery service is included in the set of merchants, in which the at least one order includes an order for at least one merchant of the set of merchants, in which the incentive includes an incentive related to orders placed with merchants of the set of merchants, in which the incentive includes a discount on orders placed with the merchants of the set of merchants.
  • [0322]
    A.9. The apparatus of claim A, further comprising the computing device. A.9.1. The apparatus of claim A.9, in which the computing device includes a processor.
  • [0323]
    B. A method comprising: determining, by a computing device, an incentive that may be provided to a group of users of a delivery service; determining, by the computing device, a goal for the group of users to collectively meet in order to receive the incentive; determining, by the computing device, the group of users of the delivery service; receiving, by the computing device, at least one order from at least one user of the group; in response to receiving the at least one order, facilitating, by the computing device, at least one delivery fulfilling the at least one order; determining, by the computing device and based on the at least one order, that the group of users has met the goal; and in response to determining that the group of users has met the goal, facilitating, by the computing device, provision of the inventive to the group.
  • [0324]
    C. An apparatus comprising: a means for determining an incentive that may be provided to a group of users of a delivery service; a means for determining a goal for the group of users to collectively meet in order to receive the incentive; a means for determining the group of users of the delivery service; a means for receiving at least one order from at least one user of the group; a means for facilitating at least one delivery fulfilling the at least one order in response to receiving the at least one order; a means for determining, based on the at least one order, that the group of users has met the goal; and a means for facilitating provision of the inventive to the group in response to determining that the group of users has met the goal.
  • [0325]
    A. An apparatus comprising a non-transitory computer readable medium having stored thereon a plurality of instructions that when executed by a computing device, causes the computing device to perform a method comprising: receiving an order for a restaurant from a user of a delivery service, in which the order includes an order to deliver a set of food items from the restaurant to the user; transmitting an indication of the order to the restaurant; determining that a plurality of delivery agents should be used to perform delivery of the set of food items from the restaurant to the user; selecting a first delivery agent to transfer the set of food items from the restaurant to a first location; selecting a second delivery agent to transfer the set of food items the first location to the user; and facilitating delivery of the food items from the restaurant to the user using the first and second delivery agents.
  • [0326]
    A.1. The apparatus of claim A, in which facilitating delivery includes notifying the first and second delivery agents of the first location and a time to meet at the first location to transfer the set of food items from the first delivery agent to the second delivery agent. A.2. The apparatus of claim A, in which facilitating delivery includes arranging an intermediary at the first location to receive the set of food items from the first delivery agent, hold the set of food items for an amount of time, and provide the set of food items to the second delivery agent. A.2.1. The apparatus of claim A.2, in which the order includes an order for a food item from a second restaurant, in which the intermediary includes the second restaurant, and in which arranging includes arranging for the intermediary to add the food item to the set of food items provided to the second delivery agent. A.3. The apparatus of claim A, in which determining that the plurality of delivery agents should be used includes initiating an auction for delivery of the set of food items and comparing costs submitted to the auction for complete deliveries to prices submitted to the auction for partial deliveries. A.3.1. The apparatus of claim A.3, in which selecting the first and second delivery agents includes selecting based on a most affordable combination of prices submitted to the auction.
  • [0327]
    A.4. The apparatus of claim A, in which the plurality of delivery agents includes cab drivers. A.5. The apparatus of claim A, in which selecting the first and second delivery agents includes selecting based on a comparison of a route of travel of the first and second delivery agents and the locations of the user, the first location, and the restaurant. A.5.1. The apparatus of claim A.5, in which selecting the first delivery agent includes selecting based on a route of expected travel passing proximate to each of the restaurant and the first location. A.5.1.1. The apparatus of claim A.5.1, in which the method further comprises receiving an indication of GPS coordinates of the first delivery agent and an indication of a destination of the first delivery agent, and determining the route of expected travel based on the GPS coordinates and the indication of the destination. A.5.2. The apparatus of claim A.5, in which selecting the second delivery agent includes selecting based on a route of expected travel passing proximate to each of the first location and the user. A.5.2.1. The apparatus of claim A.5.2, in which the method further comprises receiving an indication of GPS coordinates of the second delivery agent and an indication of a destination of the second delivery agent, and determining the route of expected travel based on the GPS coordinates and the indication of the destination.
  • [0328]
    B. An apparatus comprising: a point of sale terminal configured to: receive information about one or more items purchased at a merchant by a customer, receive payment information for the purchase of the one or more items, receive information about a destination for a delivery of the one or more items, and transmit information about the delivery to a computing device of a delivery service to arrange for the one or more items to be delivered from the merchant to the customer; and the computing device of a delivery service configured to: receive the information about the delivery from the point of sale terminal, initiate an auction to determine which of a plurality of delivery agents should deliver the items from the merchant to the customer, selecting a delivery agent based on the auction, and facilitating delivery of the items from the merchant to the customer using the selected delivery agent.
  • [0329]
    B.1. The apparatus of claim B, in which facilitating the delivery includes transmitting information to the selected delivery agent identifying the order and transmitting information to the merchant identifying the selected delivery agent. B.2. The apparatus of claim B, in which the payment information includes payment information for the delivery. B.3. The apparatus of claim B, in which the pint of sale terminal includes a cash register. B.4. The apparatus of claim B, in which the auction includes a reverse auction. B.5. The apparatus of claim B, in which the information about the delivery includes a time for the delivery, and in which facilitating the delivery includes identifying the time to the selected delivery agent. B.6. The apparatus of claim B, in which the information about the delivery includes a destination for the delivery, and in which facilitating the delivery includes identifying the destination to the selected delivery agent.
  • [0330]
    C. An apparatus comprising a non-transitory computer readable medium having stored thereon a plurality of instructions that when executed by a computing device, causes the computing device to perform a method comprising: receiving a plurality of respective indications of items captured by a camera of a cellular telephone; receiving an indication of a payment for the items from the cellular telephone; receiving an indication of a destination for a delivery of the items from the cellular telephone; initiating an auction to determine which of a plurality of delivery agents should deliver the items to the destination; selecting a delivery agent based on the auction; and facilitating delivery of the items to the destination using the selected delivery agent.
  • [0331]
    C.1. The apparatus of claim C, in which the indications of the items includes barcodes. C.2. The apparatus of claim C, in which the indications of the items include pictures. C.3. The apparatus of claim C, in which the method includes determining a source of the items based on a database of merchants proximate to the destination that sell the items. C.3.1. The apparatus of claim C.3, in which determining the source includes determining the source based on the lowest prices for which the goods are offered. C.4. The apparatus of claim C, in which the method includes receiving respective indications of respective locations corresponding to the captures of the indications of the items, and determining a merchant to supply the items based on the locations. C.4.1. The apparatus of claim C.4, in which determining the merchant includes comparing the locations with a database of merchant locations. C.4.2. The apparatus of claim C.4, in which the locations include GPS coordinates. C.4.3. The apparatus of claim C.4, in which the method includes: initiating an auction to determine which of a plurality of pickers should pick the items from the shelves of the merchant selecting the picker based on the auction, and facilitating picking of the items from the shelves of the merchant using the selected picker. C.5. The apparatus of claim C, in which the method includes receiving an indication of a merchant to supply the items from the cellular telephone. C.5.1. The apparatus of claim C, in which the method includes: initiating an auction to determine which of a plurality of pickers should pick the items from the shelves of the merchant selecting the picker based on the auction, and facilitating picking of the items from the shelves of the merchant using the selected picker.

Claims (20)

  1. 1. An apparatus comprising a non-transitory computer readable medium having stored thereon a plurality of instructions that when executed by a computing device, causes the computing device to perform a method comprising:
    determining an incentive that may be provided to a group of users of a delivery service;
    determining a goal for the group of users to collectively meet in order to receive the incentive;
    determining the group of users of the delivery service;
    receiving at least one order from at least one user of the group;
    in response to receiving the at least one order, facilitating at least one delivery fulfilling the at least one order;
    determining, based on the at least one order, that the group of users has met the goal; and
    in response to determining that the group of users has met the goal, facilitating provision of the inventive to the group.
  2. 2. The apparatus of claim 1, in which facilitating provision of the incentive includes at least one of providing the incentive, and notifying a merchant to whom the at least one order relates to provide the incentive.
  3. 3. The apparatus of claim 1, in which determining the group includes determining the group based on a geographic area such that members of the group are in the geographic area.
  4. 4. The apparatus of claim 3, in which the geographic area includes a city and in which no members of the group are outside of the city.
  5. 5. The apparatus of claim 3, in which the geographic area includes a delivery region of a merchant.
  6. 6. The apparatus of claim 1, in which determining the incentive includes determining the incentive based on a size of the group.
  7. 7. The apparatus of claim 1, in which the goal includes a goal to place a number of orders with the delivery service.
  8. 8. The apparatus of claim 1, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders that have a cumulative dollar amount value with the delivery service.
  9. 9. The apparatus of claim 1, in which the method further comprises:
    determining a set of merchants, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders with the set of merchants.
  10. 10. The apparatus of claim 9, in which the at least one order includes an order for at least one merchant of the set of merchants.
  11. 11. The apparatus of claim 9, in which the incentive includes an incentive related to orders placed with merchants of the set of merchants.
  12. 12. The apparatus of claim 11, in which the incentive includes a discount on orders placed with the merchants of the set of merchants.
  13. 13. The apparatus of claim 9, in which determining the set of merchants includes determining the set of merchants such that a merchant that is new to the delivery service is included in the set of merchants.
  14. 14. The apparatus of claim 1, in which the goal includes a goal for a particular amount of time.
  15. 15. The apparatus of claim 14, in which the amount of time relates to an amount of time during which an event occurs.
  16. 16. The apparatus of claim 1, in which facilitating provision of the incentive includes at least one of providing the incentive, and notifying a merchant to whom the at least one order relates to provide the incentive;
    in which determining the group includes determining the group based on a geographic area such that members of the group are in the geographic area, in which the geographic area includes a city and in which no members of the group are outside of the city, in which the geographic area includes a delivery region of a merchant;
    in which determining the incentive includes determining the incentive based on a size of the group;
    in which the goal includes a goal to place a number of orders with the delivery service, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders that have a cumulative dollar amount value with the delivery service;
    in which the goal includes a goal for a particular amount of time, in which the amount of time relates to an amount of time during which an event occurs; and
    in which the method further comprises: determining a set of merchants, in which the goal includes a goal to place orders with the set of merchants, in which determining the set of merchants includes determining the set of merchants such that a merchant that is new to the delivery service is included in the set of merchants, in which the at least one order includes an order for at least one merchant of the set of merchants, in which the incentive includes an incentive related to orders placed with merchants of the set of merchants, in which the incentive includes a discount on orders placed with the merchants of the set of merchants.
  17. 17. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising the computing device.
  18. 18. The apparatus of claim 17, in which the computing device includes a processor.
  19. 19. A method comprising:
    determining, by a computing device, an incentive that may be provided to a group of users of a delivery service;
    determining, by the computing device, a goal for the group of users to collectively meet in order to receive the incentive;
    determining, by the computing device, the group of users of the delivery service; receiving, by the computing device, at least one order from at least one user of the group;
    in response to receiving the at least one order, facilitating, by the computing device, at least one delivery fulfilling the at least one order;
    determining, by the computing device and based on the at least one order, that the group of users has met the goal; and
    in response to determining that the group of users has met the goal, facilitating, by the computing device, provision of the inventive to the group.
  20. 20. An apparatus comprising:
    a means for determining an incentive that may be provided to a group of users of a delivery service;
    a means for determining a goal for the group of users to collectively meet in order to receive the incentive;
    a means for determining the group of users of the delivery service;
    a means for receiving at least one order from at least one user of the group;
    a means for facilitating at least one delivery fulfilling the at least one order in response to receiving the at least one order;
    a means for determining, based on the at least one order, that the group of users has met the goal; and
    a means for facilitating provision of the inventive to the group in response to determining that the group of users has met the goal.
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