WO1997017663A1 - Method and system for multilingual online purchasing - Google Patents

Method and system for multilingual online purchasing Download PDF

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Publication number
WO1997017663A1
WO1997017663A1 PCT/US1996/018133 US9618133W WO9717663A1 WO 1997017663 A1 WO1997017663 A1 WO 1997017663A1 US 9618133 W US9618133 W US 9618133W WO 9717663 A1 WO9717663 A1 WO 9717663A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
buyer
product
chosen
multiple
supphers
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US1996/018133
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Alain L. De La Motte
Original Assignee
Motte Alain L De
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to US660495P priority Critical
Priority to US60/006,604 priority
Application filed by Motte Alain L De filed Critical Motte Alain L De
Publication of WO1997017663A1 publication Critical patent/WO1997017663A1/en

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Classifications

    • 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
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/08Payment architectures
    • G06Q20/12Payment architectures specially adapted for electronic shopping systems
    • 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
    • G06Q10/00Administration; Management
    • G06Q10/08Logistics, e.g. warehousing, loading, distribution or shipping; Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement or balancing against orders
    • G06Q10/087Inventory or stock management, e.g. order filling, procurement, balancing against orders
    • 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
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/02Payment architectures, schemes or protocols involving a neutral party, e.g. certification authority, notary or trusted third party [TTP]
    • 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
    • G06Q20/00Payment architectures, schemes or protocols
    • G06Q20/04Payment circuits
    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07FCOIN-FREED OR LIKE APPARATUS
    • G07F7/00Mechanisms actuated by objects other than coins to free or to actuate vending, hiring, coin or paper currency dispensing or refunding apparatus

Abstract

A system for facilitating, selecting, ordering, and purchasing of products includes a purchase-facilitating, software-implemented computer system located near a buyer, a trade-facilitating hub, and one or more vendors. Using the purchase-facilitating program, the buyer enters business and trade information and also enters information regarding the various products (available from vendors) that the buyer desires to purchase (200). After buyer-information and product-selection information have been entered in the purchase-facilitating program, that information is combined into a composite document which is sent (preferably via facsimile or internet) (228) to the trade-facilitating hub. At the hub, the composite document is converted into multiple documents which are sent to each corresponding vendor. The hub then forwards responses from the vendors to the buyer. If the buyer, hub, and vendors use different languages, then the preferred system translates all correspondence into the appropriate language for the receiving party prior to sending.

Description

METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR MULTILINGUAL ONLINE PURCHASING

Cross-Reference to Related Applications This apphcation claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/006,604 entitled "METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR FACILITATING SELECTING, ORDERING AND PURCHASING OF PRODUCTS" filed on November 9, 1995.

Technical Field The present invention is generally related to a method and a system for facilitating selecting, ordering and purchasing of products. The invention creates a composite request-for-price-quotation (RFQ) which is intended to be distributed to multiple vendors, wherein such RFQ is produced based on a buyer's requirements and preferences. More particularly, the invention concerns a user interface for a computer system facilitating product selection and purchasing. The invention may also include a language-variable user interface and product database.

Background

Many types of business entities purchase products for reselling or distributing. In any particular trade industry, there may be thousands of products available, and for each of those products there may be thousands of varieties and brands. For example, in the food industry, canned corn may be available in ten different sizes, in a dozen or more varieties (such as whole kernel, creamy, no salt, etc.), and in a hundred different brands. Also, there may be hundreds of vendors that supply canned com, which vendors may have particular brands, sizes and varieties only during certain parts of the year. To make purchasing decisions, a buyer has thousands choices for each particular food product.

In addition, once a buyer has selected a product and a vendor, the buyer must obtain from the vendor an estimate of the supply terms and price. Presently, this process typically involves a series of letters and faxes sent back-and- forth between the buyer and each vendor to specify the products available, delivery, price and other supply-related terms.

The complexity of conventional food-product purchasing is exacerbated when products are being imported. As a practical matter, it is difficult for a foreign buyer and domestic vendor to communicate in a timely manner because of language and time-zone differences. For example, a buyer in Germany may wish to purchase canned hams from a vendor in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. If neither an interpreter or a common language exists, then the language difference will require translation services, which adds cost and time to a time-critical negotiation. The practical result is such a situation is that the German buyer will not even make the request.

Disclosure ofthe Invention

The invented method and system facilitates a buyer's selection, order and purchase of products, which products are to be shipped from vendors to the buyer. In addition, such trade facilitation is enhanced by a computer system with separate, but interrelated, vendor and product fields in the user interface, wherein the user interface and product database are language-variable.

In its preferred embodiment, the invented system includes a purchase-facilitating, software-implemented computer system at the buyer's site, a trade-facihtating hub and one or more vendors. Using the purchase-facilitating program the buyer enters business and trade information and also enters information regarding the various products (available from vendors) that the buyer would like to purchase. After buyer-information and product-selection information have been entered in the purchase-facilitating program, such information is combined into a composite document. The document is sent (preferably via facsimile or internet) to the trade-facilitating hub.

At the hub, the composite document is converted into multiple documents which are sent to each respective vendor. Such conversion may be done electronically and automatically. The hub then forwards responses from the vendors to the buyer. If the buyer, hub and vendors use different languages, then the preferred system translates all correspondence into the appropriate language for the receiving party prior to sending.

These and other advantages and objects ofthe present invention will be more readily understood after consideration of the drawings and the detailed description ofthe preferred embodiment which follows.

Brief Description ofthe Drawings Figs. 1-38 are color screen prints of representative successive screens presented to a buyer during an exemplary execution of a purchase-facilitating program, which program is constructed in accordance with the invented method and system, wherein such screen prints also illustrate the user interface.

Fig. A is a flowchart illustrating a preferred implementation of a purchasing-program, which program is constructed in accordance with the invented system and method and produces the screens illustrated by Figs. 1-38. Detailed Description ofthe Drawings and

Best Mode for Carrying Out the Invention

The preferred embodiment and implementation of the invented system and method is described in a food-industry application. In particular, it is described below for use by food reselling and distributing businesses. However, those skilled in the art understand that the invention may be used in any industry for any type of user, including an individual consumer who makes product selections via a home-shopping, television or cable network. References to the food industry and food products are presented for illustrative purposes and do not limit applications for the invention to other industries or users. One way to characterize the invention is a product selection and ordering system that allows a buyer to select desired products from a directory of products offered by suppliers, and to transmit an order for such selected products from a corresponding supplier. The system includes a communication network linking such a buyer and such suppliers, which network includes a buyer interface (also referred to as a user interface). A directory of products offered by the suppliers is also located on the network. The buyer interface allows the buyer to specify a multiple-product order from a buyer-chosen supplier, and to transmit the order to the buyer-chosen supplier. The above invention will be described below in the context of a food-product buyer, or user. That user will use a to-be-described purchase- facilitating program that is loadable on a personal computer. The preferred communication network between the user, to-be-described intermediary or trade- facilitating hub, and suppliers involves a telecommunication network usable via modem communication between the computers of each member of the system, i.e. the user, intermediary and suppliers.

In general, the preferred purchase-facilitating program, which is constructed in accordance with the preferred embodiment and implementation of the invented system and method, includes three main sections. The first or preliminary section gathers information about the user and their preferences. The second section is the product selection and review, where the user selects desired products. The third or wrap-up section is where the user-specified ordering information is collected, organized and transmitted to a transaction facilitator (also referred to as a trade-facihtating hub or intermediary) for bid distribution. The program will be described by referring to the flowchart in Fig. A and also to the exemplary screens shown in Figs. 1-38. When the program is executed (at 102 in Fig. A), a title screen, shown in Fig. 1, is displayed. At 104 and in Fig. 2, the user is asked to select their language of choice (hereinafter, the local language). The languages available in the preferred embodiments are English, French, Spanish, German, Itahan and Portuguese. The local language selected by the user is the language used throughout tiie remaining execution of the program. All questions asked and information presented will be in the local language of the user. Specifically, a source database exists for each language. Thus, in the preferred embodiment six source databases exist. Each communicative message or term, such as questions, responses, products, etc., has an indexable code associated with it. Each language's source database has that language's particular interpretation ofthe code associated message or term.

The following table (TABLE I) illustrates two source databases. A common exemplary and arbitrary index code is provided in the table and each source database has a specific associated term in a particular language:

TABLE I

Code English French

123 Cocoa & Milk Modifiers Cocoa & lait modifies

129 Diet Food Produit Dietetique

345 Cereal Cereales

After the local language has been selected, at 106 and 108 the user may review the introduction (see Fig. 1). At 110, and shown in Fig. 4, the user is asked to sign-in or indicate that they are a new user. At 112, the program asks whether the user has previously registered on tiie program. If so, then an existing record is associated with the user and the program proceeds to the main menu at 200 (see Fig. 13). However, if the user has not previously registered, then the registration module of the program is implemented at 114. At 116 and shown in Fig. 5, the user selects the registration type of their organization. In general, these organizations are either commercial (business) entities or governmental agencies.

More particularly, a commercial entity may be a domestic commercial entity or a foreign importer. In tiie preferred embodiment of the invention, the Importer is the only classification of commercial entity available. Regarding governmental agencies, the preferred embodiment includes a) U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS); b) U.S. Department of Commerce U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service (FCS); and c) Department of Agriculture (States). Each classification of user has a classification-specific registration process where only questions related to that particular classification are asked. Of course, the type of user is not limited to those given above and may be extended to include a wide variety of users while remaining within the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, a consumer is a type of user (other than commercial entity and government agency) that is presently envisioned for versions ofthe invention.

As an example ofthe registration process, it will be assumed that the user is an Importer. At 118 and shown in Fig. 6, the Importer is asked to identify the specific classification that best identifies their operations. As indicated at 120 and shown in Fig. 6, the Importer may select any available classification such as retail chain, wholesaler, buying/trade organization, product-service business (such as a restaurant) or a mass merchandiser. Information requested from the user varies depending on user classification. For example, a buying/trade organization would not be asked how many stores they have, whereas a retail chain would. If the user were an FCS, then a screen such as Fig. 11 would be displayed at block 134 of the program illustrated by Fig. A. After that information is entered, then the user is asked information about the recommended users at 136 (see Fig. 12).

If the user classification is a retail chain, the following information, as shown in Fig. 7, would be requested: company name, company's address (street and mailing), phone number, facsimile number, electronic mail address, total annual sales, imports as a percentage of sales, sales accounts, number of employees and how long the company has been in business. Any of these latter requests (which have down arrows in the figures) include pull-down, pre-defined selections. For example, in response to total annual sales, the user may select any one of a number of ranges such as: (1) less than 5 million, (2) 5 to 20 million, (3) 20 to 50 million and so forth.

After the above general information regarding the company is entered into the program, the Importer is asked, as shown in Fig. 8, for additional information regarding the particular individual(s) using the system. In addition to the standard identifying infoπnation (such as address, phone number, etc.), the individual is asked to select the areas or types of products that the individual is responsible for purchasing. This allows for future options within the system to be personalized to the particular individual within a user entity using it. For example, if an individual indicated that they were responsible for purchasing automobile parts and camping gear for a retail chain, the system would not provide tiiat individual any future information regarding any areas outside of those, unless the individual specifically requested it. Figs. 7 and 8 also show that the program accommodates organization with multiple buyers, and the buyer input block at 122 of Fig. A is depicted in Figs. 7 and 8.

Additional information about the Importer is requested at 124 and such request is shown in Fig. 9. That additional information is particularly useful to the trade-facilitating hub and vendors (or suppliers) in determining whether a business relationship with the Importer is desirable. As shown in Fig. 9, if the user is a retail chain, the user may be asked the number of stores in particular markets (i.e., countries). Also, the user may be asked for their credit references and trade references.

At 126 and shown in Fig. 10, the user provides logistical preferences. The user is asked his or her preferred way of receiving the goods. If the goods are to be imported, the port of importation is selected along with alternative ports if the preferred port is unavailable. Also, the INCO terms of sale are selected (such as Ex Factory, FOB Port of Export, C&F Port of Import, CIF Port of Import and Delivered Duty Paid). The user is also asked to select a preferred carrier and their account number for that carrier. Also, other miscellaneous shipping information is requested.

After the user information is selected and entered into the system, the program returns to the main menu at 200 (see Fig. 13). From the main menu, the user can proceed to one of several other modules, such as the Product Selection module. From the main menu, the user may preferably select Product Selection module at 202, Previous Selections module at 204, New Products module at 206, Brand Names module at 208, Market Promotion module at 210 and Tutorial module at 212. Also, the user may choose from the Main Menu to modify user registration. Discussion of the Product Selection module will be described.

During the Previous Selections module at 204, tiie system retrieves and displays for the user a list of previously selected products and tiie terms of an order for such products. The user is free to remove or add products from the selected list. When finished, this module proceeds to the Product Review module at 220.

During the New Products module at 206, the user is presented with a list of only the new products which are available and the user may select from among those new products. If the user is only interested in the most recent product offerings, then this module is preferred because it eliminates undesired information. The user is periodically provided with an updated list of available products with all new products appropriately labeled. After this module, the user proceeds to the Product Review module at 220.

In the Brand Names module at 208, the user is given a list of available brand names and related information about each brand. In the Market Promotion module at 210, the user is given information regarding various promotional programs that particular manufacturers, vendors or trade organization may be running to encourage purchase of particular products or purchase from particular sources. For example, the U.S. Meat Board may give a ten percent discount on all orders for beef which will ultimately be sold in Japan. This information may help the buyer decide what products to select. In the Tutorial module at 212, the user is taught about how to use the program. After the Brand Names module, Market Promotion module or Tutorial module, the program returns to the main menu at 200. In general, product selection (at 202, 204 or 206) and product review is the second main section ofthe program. Within the Product Selection module at 202, the user selects particular products for ordering. Examples of product selection screens are shown in Figs. 14-17. The user may select particular products in a number of different ways. Preferably, the categories of products related to the user's interest area are listed in a hierarchical fashion, and the user may select by navigating through the hierarchy to find a particular product for which they wish to receive a bid from a vendor.

For example, if the user's general interest area includes food and grocery items, the major food-product categories in the hierarchy appears on the screen, as shown in Fig. 14. The major categories may include labels such as bakery items, dairy products, meat, produce, canned goods, frozen foods, etc. If, as shown in Fig. 14, the user selects cereal, then the screen will change, as shown in Fig. 15, to show the minor categories under the major category cereal. The minor categories of cereal may include hot cereals and ready-to-eat cereals. If, as shown in Fig. 15, the user selects ready-to-eat cereal, then the screen will change, as shown in Fig. 16, to show the item list under the minor category of ready-to-eat cereals. The item list of ready-to-eat cereals may include any type of ready-to-eat cereals, such as apple cinnamon toasted oats, bran flakes, cocoa crunches, corn flakes, crisp crunch, crispy rice, fruit rings, etc.

In Fig. 16, the item "CEREAL CRISPY RICE *New*" is highlighted (indicating that it is selected). As is obvious from the designation, "New*" means the particular item is a new product. Once the user selects this item, it appears in the Product Selection List shown on the right-side of Fig. 16. In general, the user selects particular products for which they want to bid, and those products go into a list called the Product Selection List in which the user will later provide additional information which can be used to request and obtain a user-specified bid. Another way that the user may find a particular desired product is to use the systems search procedure shown on the right-side of Fig. 16 with a heading: "HS Code or Key Word Search". The user may input a particular product code or the key words related to products and the system will search for them. In the Product Selection module, the user has the option to choose languages other than the one selected at the beginning of the program. This allows the user to see what the products are called in different languages. This may be particularly useful if the user knows the name of a product in one language, but does not know the name in the local language. Fig. 17 shows a Product Selection List after the user has selected three different products. After a list of items has been selected, the program proceeds to block 220, the Product Review module, where the user inputs information about the chosen product, including the time and manner in which the product is to be shipped. The screens and a visual representations of the user- interface of this module are shown in Figs. 18 and 19.

The screen/user-interface (as shown in Figs. 18 and 19) of the Product Review module includes two main sections: the product specification section (shown in Figs. 18 and 19 as a teal-colored, square-shaped information box which is framed in brown) and the supplier-information section (shown in Figs. 18 and 19 as a blue-colored, dipper-shaped information box which is also framed in brown).

The program correlates user-specified information so that information entered or selected in one of the program sections may affect the information displayed in another section. On the top of tiie Product Review screen (as shown in Figs. 18 and 19) next to the heading "Product Description" is the particular product from the Product Selection List (created in the Product Selection module). The user may change which of the products from the list is for the Product Review. For example, Fig. 18 shows the "CORN WHOLE KERNEL" is the product ofthe list for this Product Review. The product specification section includes options related to designating the specifics ofthe product that the user wishes to order. For example, the option may include the following: package size, grade ofthe product and brand ofthe product. In addition, the user may select either the metric or English system to display units of measurement. Selecting particular options may cause otiier infoπnation in this and the supplier section to change. For example as shown in Fig. 19, if the product is corn whole kernel, the user may select an eight ounce package, a grade of Grade A Fancy and a brand such as NATURE'S PRIDE. As shown in Fig. 19, once a particular brand is selected, an image or picture of the particular product appears in a small product window so that the user may see what the product actually looks like. As seen in Fig. 19, the dimensions of the case and pallet used to transport the particular product appears in the product specification section.

The program also allows the user to simplify or limit their choice. For example, it is not necessary for the user to select a particular brand or a particular grade. If they choose, they can select "ALL" for brand and grade to leave their options open to any brand or any grade of that available product. In addition, the user can also leave open the option of product size or the user can specify product size. Alternatively, as part of the product specification process, the user may be presented with a series of images, with each image representing the particular brand of a product being reviewed. The user may select the particular brand ofthe product they want by clicking on the image or selecting the image they desire. Also presented on the screen/user-interface shown in Fig. 19 is a supplier-information section. Included in suppher-information is the following: a) an order/acquisition calendar; b) an option to see other products available from a particular supplier; c) supplier-specific information; and d) a map depicting the country or region in which the suppliers are located. The order/acquisition calendar typically includes a series of colorable boxes numbered 1 through 12 (for each month of the year) which indicate the availability or other information related to the product selected from a particular suppher. For example, as shown in Figs. 18 and 19, the order/acquisition calendar includes three specific calendars, namely, a production calendar, an available-to-ship calendar and a best-time-to-order calendar. When a particular suppher or suppliers have been selected, these calendars indicate when orders may be received and shipment expected. In the example shown in Fig. 19, the product from the particular supplier is produced in months 8 and 9 (i.e., August and September), is available all-year-round, and is best ordered from May through July.

Also included in the supplier-information section is an option to see other products available from a particular suppher. Also, when a particular suppher is selected, additional information regarding that suppher may be presented. Such information may include certifications or other trade or product- related material. That information may also include a hst of ingredients or components found in a particular product from a particular suppher. Even though the user has selected a particular product, an individual suppher may have ingredients and components that vary from other suppliers. For example as shown in Fig. 19, the ingredients of NATURE'S PRIDE brand, Grade A Fancy, whole kemel com may include: corn, water, sugar and salt. Another suppher may include additional items or fewer items (for example, may not include sugar).

Also included in the supplier-information section is a coπesponding map. For example, and as depicted in Figs. 18 and 19, the products are being shipped from the United States so a map of the United States is shown. The map may be any geographic or stylized map. In a preferred embodiment, the map is a map of the United States, and on the map are a plurahty of cartographically- positioned indicia (e.g., colored dots) indicating the geographical location of particular suppliers. The dots may be colored in such a manner to indicate whether a suppher supplies a particular product. When particular products are selected under the product selection screen, dots related to supphers which do not provide that product dim or turn-off. For example, the map in Fig. 18 includes ten white dots meaning that all ten supphers provide the product. But after the user selects particular specifications ofthe product, some ofthe dots dim (e.g., become gray) to indicate that those supphers do not have the particular product specified in the product-specification section. As shown in Fig. 19, three supplier-indicating dots are dimmed.

To designate a particular suppher, the user selects the suppher from a pull-down menu in the suppher-information section such as by clicking with a computer mouse the dot on the map coπesponding to the suppher. As shown in

Fig. 19, when a particular suppher is selected its coπesponding dot is highlighted

(preferably in red).

Information entered and selected in either section of the Product Review screen/user-interface (shown in Figs. 18 and 19) affects whether and what information is displayed in both sections. As demonstrated above, there is a relationship between product-specification information and suppher information.

Referring to the Product Review module at 220 in Fig. A, and after the user has selected and entered product specification and suppher information, the user is asked to provide more detailed infoπnation on shipping the product. As shown in Fig. 20, after the user has asked for the particular item to be added to the bid request, the user is asked for additional shipping information. Next, as shown in Fig. 21, the user is asked their interest level. This informs the vendors how serious the user is and how likely the user is to be a future and frequent customer. Next, as shown in Fig. 22, the user is asked to provide additional logistical information.

After the Product Review module is completed, the user is asked to review all of the information for accuracy, and is asked to enter any additional information which would go to the supphers in a bid. In the prefeπed embodiment, the program proceeds to the Selection Review module at 222 (or 226) (see Figs. 23-36). The user is asked to review all information related to the user and the requested products. Figs. 23-36 show the various screens and options preferably available.

At 224 and as shown in Fig. 37, the infoπnation entered by the user is collected into a composite request-for-price-quotation (RFQ) document which will be transmitted (or dehvered) to the trade-facihtating hub. That document may be reviewed by the user in their local language, but when the document is transmitted, the program allows for it to be transmitted in the language of the hub. For example, if the user is French, they will be reviewing a document in French, but when the document is actually sent to the hub in the United States, the document is sent in English. Preferably, the document is transmitted via facsimile (telecopy) or across the internet via e-mail (as indicated at 228 of Fig. A). Of course, the document may also be sent in any desired way such as by mail or courier. Once the hub receives the RFQ, the invention allows for official bid documents (also called trade leads) to be created for each particular suppher where each lead only includes information relevant to that particular suppher. In otiier words, if the user asked for car batteries and green beans, the suppher of green beans would not receive any information regarding the request for car batteries. An example of such a lead is shown in Fig. 38. The leads received by supphers include information about the user company including financial-related information such as credit and trade references. To complete the communication, the hub would then receive bid-responsive information back from the supphers, and transmit that information to the user in the user's local language. The prefeπed embodiment of this system includes a software program at a user's site with an IBM-compatible or MACINTOSH microcomputer. Furthermore, the program is preferably written for use with an operating system having a graphical user interface, such as WINDOWS, WINDOWS 95, WINDOWS NT, OS/2 WARP or SYSTEM 7.x. Also, the program is preferably written in Visual Basic or Delphi 32. However, an programmer of ordinary skill understands that such program may be written any suitable programming language for use with any operating system. Preferably, tiie computer includes a modem for transmitting a facsimile or electronic mail. Alternatively, a facsimile document may be printed and then facsimiled through a conventional facsimile machine or via the conventional mail system. The receiver of the infoπnation is the trade- facilitating hub which has a business relationship with the user and witii a large group of vendors.

Also, the prefeπed embodiment of the program used by the user, which program is constructed in accordance witii the invention may be described the following outline:

Screen Definitions for the User Program In Its Preferred Embodiment

I. Title Screen A. Purpose

1. initiates Project Harvest Usage

B. Operation

1. program opens to Title Screen when user initiates Project Harvest 2. displays logo & product title with "SM" notation

3. displays user sign-in text box a. user enters name b. if system doesn't recognize name, user taken to User Registration screens c. if system recognizes name, user taken to Main Menu

Screen

C. Buttons

1. view introduction a. takes user to introduction screens 2. sign-in a. takes user into User Registration screens D. Pop-up Window

1. copyright statement E. References to drawings

1. blocks 102-112 in Fig. A

2. Figs. 1-4 II. Introduction System

A. Purpose 1. informs user about ITG and Project Harvest

B. Operation

1. currently under development and inactive

C. References to drawings

1. blocks 106 and 108 in Fig. A IH. User Registration Screen

A. Purpose

1. separates users into private and pubhc sector registrations

B. Operation

1. user chcks a button to identify his operating sector C. Buttons

1. commercial users/foreign country importer

2. governmental agencies/foreign agricultural service

3. governmental agencies/foreign commercial service

4. governmental agencies/states 5. previous

6. continue

D. References to drawings

1. blocks 114 and 116 of Fig. A

2. Fig. 5 IV. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer Screen

A. Purpose

1. identifies user's private sector operations

B. Operation 1. user chcks a button to identify his business type

C. Buttons

1. retail chain

2. wholesaler

3. buying/trading organization 4. food service

5. mass merchandiser

6. previous

7. continue

D. References to drawings 1. blocks 116 and 118 in Fig. A

2. Figs. 5 and 6

V. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer/Retail Chain

A. Purpose

1. collects user registration information specific to retail chain operations

B. Operation

1. information gathered by entering text data or making selections from pull-down menus

C. Buttons 1. previous

2. continue

D. References to drawings

1. blocks 118 and 120 in Fig. A

2. Fig. 6 VI. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer/Retail Chain - Company Information Screen A. Purpose

1. collects information about registered user's company B. Operation

1. information gathered by text data entry, pull-down menus and/or operating range selections

C. Buttons

1. previous 2. continue

D. References to drawings

1. block 122 in Fig. A

2. Fig. 7

VE. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer Retail Chain - Buyer Contact Screen

A. Purpose

1. collects information about registered user's buyer contacts

B. Operation

1. information gathered by text data entry, pull-down menus and/or operating range selections

C. Buttons

1. previous

2. continue

D. References to drawings 1. block 122 in Fig. A

2. Fig. 8 VE!. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer/Retail Chain - Operations Profile Screen

A. Purpose 1. collects information about registered user's company operations

B. Operation

1. information gathered by text data entry, pull-down menus and/or operating range selections

C. Buttons

1. previous

2. continue

D. References to drawings 1. block 124 in Fig. A

2. Fig. 9

IX. Commercial Users Foreign Country Importer Retail Chain - Logistical Preferences Screen

A. Purpose 1. collects infoπnation about registered user's prefeπed shipping arrangements

B. Operation

1. information gathered by text data entry, pull-down menus and/or operating range selections C. Buttons

1. previous

2. continue

D. References to drawings 1. block 126 in Fig. A 2. Fig. 10

X. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer/Wholesaler A. Purpose

1. collects user registration information specific to wholesale distribution operations B. Operation

1. cuπently under development and inactive XI. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer/Buying-Trading Organization

A. Purpose 1. collects user registration information specific to large scale procurement operations

B. Operation

1. currently under development and inactive Xπ. Commercial User/Foreign Country Importer/Food Service A. Purpose

1. collects user registration information specific to food service distribution operations B. Operation

1. cuπently under development and inactive Xiπ. Commercial Users/Foreign Country Importer/Mass Merchandiser

A. Purpose

1. collects user registration information specific to drug & non¬ food distribution operations

B. Operation 1. currently under development and inactive

XTV. Governmental Agencies/Foreign Agricultural Service

A. Purpose

1. identifies user's pubhc sector operations on behalf of U.S. Department of Agriculture 2. identifies local private sector companies as potential Project

Harvest users

B. Operation

1. information gathered by text data entry, pull-down menus and/or operating range selections C. Buttons

1. previous

2. continue

D. References to drawings 1. blocks 130 and 132 in Fig. A

XV. Governmental Agencies/Foreign Commercial Service

A. Purpose

1. identifies user's pubhc sector operations on behalf of U.S. Department of Commerce 2. identifies local private sector companies as potential Project

Harvest users

B. Operation

1. information gathered by text data entry, pull-down menus and/or operating range selections C. Buttons

1. previous

2. continue

D. References to drawings

1. blocks 134 and 136 in Fig. A 2. Figs. 11 and 12

XVI. Governmental Agencies/State Department of Agriculture

A. Purpose

1. identifies user's public sector operations on behalf of U.S. states 2. identifies local private sector companies as potential Project

Harvest users

B. Operation

1. cuπently under development and inactive

C. Buttons 1. previous

2. continue

D. References to drawings

1. blocks 138 and 140 in Fig. A XVπ. Main Menu

A. Purpose

1. opens program to numerous user-valuable modules

B. Operation

1. user clicks button to enter desired module C. Buttons

1. product selection

2. brands

3. previous selections

4. market promotion programs 5. modify user registration

6. tutorial

7. view new items

8. previous

9. continue D. References to drawings

1. block 200 in Fig. A

2. Fig. 13 XVm.Brands Screen

A. Purpose 1. informs user about relative market positioning of brand labels offered vis-a-vis product quality

B. Operation

1. currently under development and inactive

C. References to drawings 1. block 208 in Fig. A XLX. Previous Selection Screen

A. Purpose

1. allows user to retrieve previously saved product selection hst and/or search string

B. Operation

1. cuπently under development and inactive

C. References to drawings

1. block 204 in Fig. A XX. Market Promotion Programs Screen

A. Purpose

1. inform user about special export promotion programs offered by industry trade boards

B. Operation 1. cuπently under development and inactive

C. References to drawings

1. block 210 in Fig. A XXI. Modify User Registration Screen

A. Purpose 1. allows user to return to registration screens to update/change previous entries

B. Operation

1. user clicks button to return to first screen of his user registration type C. References to drawings

1. block 114 in Fig. A XXπ. Tutorial Screen A. Purpose 1. inform user about special export promotion programs offered by industry trade boards B. Operation

1. cuπently under development and inactive C. References to drawings

1. block 212 in Fig. A XXTfl. View New Products Screen

A. Purpose

1. identifies for user new products added to this version/update of Project Harvest

B. Operation

1. cuπently under development and inactive

C. References to drawings

1. block 206 in Fig. A XXTV.Product selection Screen

A. Purpose

1. allows user to identify specific products of interest for further review

B. Operation 1. l products classified by major category, minor category and item hst

2. macro search a. user scrolls major categories and chcks on choice to open minor categories b. user scrolls minor categories and chcks on choice to open item hst c. user scrolls item hst and chcks on product to move it to move it to product selection hst d. user repeats process to build full hst of product selections

3. key word search a. user enters combination of words which computer searches against all product descriptions

( 1 ) can use wild card operators - and, or, not, etc. b. all matches appear in item hst c. user scrolls item hst and chcks on product to move it to product selection hst d. user repeats process to build full hst of product selections

4. hs (harmonized system) search a. user enters up to 6 digits of hs code which computer searches against all product hs codes ( 1 ) can use (asterisk) wild card operator b. all matches appear in item list c. user scrolls item list and clicks on product to move it to product selection hst d. user repeats process to build full hst of product selections

C. Buttons

1. view all products a. enables user to scroll major/minor/products for all products in database 2. view new products a. enables user to scroll major/minor/products for products new to cuπent version

3. remove item

4. clear hst 5. product review a. advance user to next screen

6. main menu

D. Pull-Down 1. search language a. allows user to change on the fly language of major/minor/product display to

(1) English

(2) French (3) German

(4) Spanish

(5) Itahan

(6) Portuguese

E. References to drawings 1. block 202 in Fig. A

2. Figs. 14-17 XXV. Product Review Screen

A. Purpose

1. allows user to review all details of suppher product offerings B. Operation

1. program searches database and displays product information based on user input a. user inputs through pull-down menus and button- controlled pop-up windows 2. information displays in color graphics and text boxes

3. user selects product for review from product description pull¬ down a. dots representing all suppliers capable of supplying product appear on map 4. user selects package size from pull-down a. dots of supphers incapable of supplying chosen package size dimmed/inactivated on map b. program defaults to display of metric size equivalent c. user can change on the fly between metric and English units

5. user selects product from pull-down a. dots of supphers incapable of supplying chosen grade dimmed/inactivated on map 6. user selects brand from pull-down a. dots of supphers incapable of supplying chosen brand dimmed/inactivated on map

7. user clicks on remaining suppher dots to display specific suppher infoπnation a. assists user in differentiating between available suppliers

(1) suppher information

(2) ingredients

(3) nutritional information (4) product procurement calendar

(5) case and pallet dimensions

8. user displays detail or brand label by clicking on picture to zoom in/zoom out

C. Buttons 1. add this product a. opens pop-up windows for accumulation of additional user input b. adds product and user inputs to list for incorporation into RFQ 2. comments

3. print this screen

4. clear screen

5. next product 6. previous product

7. product selection

8. exit review a. option 1: resume from point of interruption b. option 2: resume from beginning of review hst D. Pop-Up Windows

1. capture user input about the product a. user interest level b. specific product requirements c. timing of order initiation d. desired target price e. samples requested f. label production assistance E. References to drawings

1. block 220 in Fig. A 2. Figs. 18-22

XXVI.Import Comments A. Purpose

1. allows user to communicate specific needs relative to entire RFQ and/or ultimate purchase order B. Operation

1. free flow text entry field

2. pre-set hst of question with yes no radio button answers C. Buttons

1. previous 2. continue

3. product review XXVπ.Selection Review

A. Purpose 1. allows user to review all input selections prior to compilation into RFQ

B. Operation

1. if user chooses not to review, program accepts selections as inputted, and: a. prepares print output of preformatted fax RFQ, or b. prepares text file for RFQ transmission as e-mail

2. if user chooses to review, goes to review pop-ups

C. Buttons

1. review 2. e-mail

3. print/fax

D. Pop-up Windows

1. company information a. user can change information in these text fields, pull- down menus on this pop-up

2. buyer contacts a. user can change information in these text fields, pull¬ down menus on this pop-up logistical preferences

3. logistical preferences a. user can change information in these text fields, pull¬ down menus on this pop-up

4. product selections a. only information in text fields and pull-down menus can be changed on this pop-up b. user returned to Product Review screen to change information derived from product database 5. importer comments a. user can change information in these text fields, pull- down menus on this pop-up

A. References to drawings

1. blocks 222 and 226 in Fig. A

2. Figs. 23-36

XXVπi. Creation and Transmission of RFQ A. Purpose

1. Compiles information into an RFQ and transmits RFQ to trade-facihtating hub

B. Operation

1. if RFQ was not already created, RFQ is created 2. user may choose to review RFQ in local language

3. transmits or prints RFQ via: a. fax b. electronic mail (via internet) c. mailing a hardcopy A. References to drawings

1. blocks 224 and 228 in Fig. A

2. Figs. 37 and 38

Another way of understanding the invention is using software which would be used at the user's site. Attached to the priority application are four 3V£" diskettes containing a user program made in accordance with a prefeπed embodiment of the invention. A microcomputer must at least have the following technical specifications effectively to run this program: IBM-compatible Personal Computer (PC) with VGA graphics capability (minimum resolution of 640 x 480) and with MICROSOFT WINDOWS 3.1 or later (or equivalent) operating system. To load the program the following instructions should be followed:

1. In File Manager, create a new directory called "ITG" under drive C;

2. In File Manager, copy the entire contents of diskettes 1-4 into the ITG directory;

3. Return to Program Manager;

4. Create a new Group and call it "PROJECT HARVEST" by typing that name in the Description box;

5. In the Command Line box type the following: "C:\ITG\MTB30RUN.EXE IPR1031Z.TBK";

6. Chck on Change Icon button; Chck on the Browse button and go to the ITG directory; In that directory, select "ITG.ICO";

7. Chck on OK buttons to return to Program Manager's main screen;

8. An ITG icon should be seen in the "PROJECT HARVEST" group; the program may be executed by double-clicking on the icon; note that some buttons are inactive.

While the prefeπed embodiment and best mode of the invention have been disclosed, variations and changes may be made without departing from the spirit and scope ofthe invention.

Claims

I CLAIM:
1. A product selection and ordering system that allows a buyer to select desired products from a directory of products offered by supphers, and to transmit an order for such selected products from a coπesponding suppher, comprising: a communication network linking such a buyer and such supphers, which network includes a buyer interface; a directory of products offered by the suppliers, which directory is located on the network; and wherein the buyer interface allows the buyer to specify a multiple- product order from a buyer-chosen suppher, and to transmit the order to the buyer- chosen suppher.
2. The system of paragraph 1, wherein the network also links an intermediary with the buyer and supphers, and the network includes an intermediary interface that allows the intermediary to receive the multiple-product order from the buyer and to transmit the multiple-product order to the buyer-chosen suppher.
3. The system of paragraph 1 wherein the buyer interface allows the buyer to specify plural multiple-product orders from buyer-chosen supphers, and to transmit together the plural multiple-product orders to the buyer-chosen supphers.
4. The system of paragraph 2 wherein the buyer interface allows the buyer to specify plural multiple-product orders from buyer-chosen supphers, and to transmit together the plural multiple-product orders to the intermediary, and the intermediary interface allows the intermediary to receive the plural multiple- product orders from the buyer, and to transmit the multiple-product orders to the buyer-chosen supphers.
5. The system of paragraph 4 wherein the network links plural buyers and includes plural buyer interfaces.
6. A method of allowing a buyer to select desired products from a directory of products offered by supphers, and to order such selected products from a coπesponding suppher, comprising: providing a communication network linking such a buyer and such supphers; including in the network a buyer interface; placing on tiie network a directory of products offered by the supphers; and allowing the buyer to specify a multiple-product order from a buyer- chosen suppher, and to transmit the order to the buyer-chosen suppher.
7. The method of paragraph 6, wherein the providing step further includes the substep of making a network link with an intermediary, and wherein the method further includes having an intermediary interface on the network to allow the intermediary to receive the multiple-product order from the buyer and to transmit the multiple-product order to the buyer-chosen suppher.
8. The method of paragraph 6 wherein the including step includes a buyer interface that allows the buyer to specify plural multiple-product orders from buyer-chosen suppliers, and to transmit together the plural multiple- product orders to the buyer-chosen supphers.
9. The method of paragraph 7 wherein the including step includes a buyer interface that allows the buyer to specify plural multiple-product orders from buyer-chosen supphers, and to transmit together the plural multiple- product orders to the intermediary, and the making substep includes making an intermediary interface that allows the intermediary to receive the plural multiple- product orders from the buyer, and to transmit the multiple-product orders to the buyer-chosen supphers.
10. The method of paragraph 4 wherein the providing step provides a communication network that links plural buyers and includes plural buyer interfaces.
11. A language-variable product selection and ordering system that allows a buyer to select desired products from a directory of products offered by supphers, and to transmit an order for such selected products from a coπesponding suppher, comprising: a communication network linking such a buyer and such supphers, which network includes a buyer interface; a directory of products offered by the supphers, which directory is located on the network; a language translator located on the network for translating the directory into a buyer-chosen language, and for translating such an order; and wherein the buyer interface allows the buyer to choose a language for the directory, to review the directory in the buyer-chosen language, to specify a multiple-product order from a buyer-chosen suppher, to choose a language for the order, and to transmit the order to the buyer-chosen suppher.
12. The system of paragraph 11 wherein the directory exists in a code that is not a language spoken by humans.
13. A language-variable product selection and ordering system that allows a buyer to select desired products from a directory of products offered by supphers, and to transmit an order for such selected products from a coπesponding suppher, comprising: a communication network linking such a buyer, such supphers and an intermediary, which network includes a buyer interface and an intermediary interface; a directory of products offered by the supphers, which directory is located on the network; a language translator located on the network for translating the directory into a buyer-chosen language; and wherein the buyer interface allows the buyer to choose a language for the directory, to review the directory in the buyer-chosen language, to specify a multiple-product order from a buyer-chosen suppher, and the intermediary interface allows the intermediary to receive the multiple-product order from the buyer and to transmit the multiple-product order to the buyer-chosen suppher.
14. The system of paragraph 13 wherein the buyer interface allows the buyer to specify plural multiple-product orders from buyer-chosen supphers, and to transmit together the plural multiple-product orders to the intermediary.
15. The system of paragraph 14 wherein the buyer interface allows the buyer to specify plural multiple-product orders from buyer-chosen supphers, and to transmit together the plural multiple-product orders to the intermediary, and the intermediary interface allows the intermediary to receive together the plural multiple-product orders from the buyer, and to transmit the multiple-product orders to the buyer-chosen supphers.
16. The system of paragraph 15 wherein the network links plural buyers and includes plural buyer interfaces.
PCT/US1996/018133 1995-11-09 1996-11-08 Method and system for multilingual online purchasing WO1997017663A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US660495P true 1995-11-09 1995-11-09
US60/006,604 1995-11-09

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU77283/96A AU7728396A (en) 1995-11-09 1996-11-08 Method and system for multilingual online purchasing

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO1997017663A1 true WO1997017663A1 (en) 1997-05-15

Family

ID=21721686

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/US1996/018133 WO1997017663A1 (en) 1995-11-09 1996-11-08 Method and system for multilingual online purchasing

Country Status (3)

Country Link
AU (1) AU7728396A (en)
CA (1) CA2237170A1 (en)
WO (1) WO1997017663A1 (en)

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FR2774838A1 (en) * 1998-02-11 1999-08-13 Sagem System of subscription taken
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SG106565A1 (en) * 1999-08-19 2004-10-29 Ibm Network-based virtual commodity exchange
EP1126396A2 (en) * 2000-02-15 2001-08-22 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha Information providing system for providing information about suppliers
EP1126396A3 (en) * 2000-02-15 2005-08-03 Canon Kabushiki Kaisha Information providing system for providing information about suppliers
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US7039606B2 (en) 2001-03-23 2006-05-02 Restaurant Services, Inc. System, method and computer program product for contract consistency in a supply chain management framework
US7546257B2 (en) 2001-03-23 2009-06-09 Restaurant Services, Inc. System, method and computer program product for utilizing market demand information for generating revenue
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WO2002088867A2 (en) * 2001-04-26 2002-11-07 Unig Pte Ltd. A network-based tender system
US9805425B2 (en) 2004-06-02 2017-10-31 Overstock.Com, Inc. System and methods for electronic commerce using personal and business networks
US8719075B2 (en) 2004-09-23 2014-05-06 Overstock.Com, Inc. System, program product, and methods for online image handling
US7979340B2 (en) 2005-09-21 2011-07-12 Overstock.Com, Inc. System, program product, and methods for online image handling
US10423997B2 (en) 2005-09-21 2019-09-24 Overstock.Com, Inc. System, program product, and methods for online image handling
US9741080B1 (en) 2007-12-21 2017-08-22 Overstock.Com, Inc. System, program product, and methods for social network advertising and incentives for same
US10269081B1 (en) 2007-12-21 2019-04-23 Overstock.Com, Inc. System, program product, and methods for social network advertising and incentives for same
US10074118B1 (en) 2009-03-24 2018-09-11 Overstock.Com, Inc. Point-and-shoot product lister
US9747622B1 (en) 2009-03-24 2017-08-29 Overstock.Com, Inc. Point-and-shoot product lister
US9047642B2 (en) 2011-03-24 2015-06-02 Overstock.Com, Inc. Social choice engine
US9928752B2 (en) 2011-03-24 2018-03-27 Overstock.Com, Inc. Social choice engine
US9483788B2 (en) 2013-06-25 2016-11-01 Overstock.Com, Inc. System and method for graphically building weighted search queries
US10102287B2 (en) 2013-06-25 2018-10-16 Overstock.Com, Inc. System and method for graphically building weighted search queries

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