WO2001071601A1 - Electronic commerce enabled aggregation for facilitating international commerce - Google Patents

Electronic commerce enabled aggregation for facilitating international commerce Download PDF

Info

Publication number
WO2001071601A1
WO2001071601A1 PCT/US2000/030450 US0030450W WO0171601A1 WO 2001071601 A1 WO2001071601 A1 WO 2001071601A1 US 0030450 W US0030450 W US 0030450W WO 0171601 A1 WO0171601 A1 WO 0171601A1
Authority
WO
Grant status
Application
Patent type
Prior art keywords
product
cost
import
country
products
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2000/030450
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Takeshi Harada
Original Assignee
Takeshi Harada
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

Links

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
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/06Buying, selling or leasing transactions
    • 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
    • G06Q40/00Finance; Insurance; Tax strategies; Processing of corporate or income taxes
    • G06Q40/02Banking, e.g. interest calculation, credit approval, mortgages, home banking or on-line banking

Abstract

A method and apparatus for electronic commerce enabled aggregation (see figure 1) allows vendors (30, 32, 34) the ability to sell products and services to customers (10, 12, 14, 16) outside of their national borders by outsourcing the functions to transnational shipping and customs management for such transactions. Additionally, the present invention allows customers to have the ability to purchase goods from all over the world at reduced costs thereby giving them access to a greater variety of goods and services.

Description

ELECTRONIC COMMERCE ENABLED AGGREGATION FOR FACILITATING INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to the field of electronic commerce enabled applications, and, amongst other things, to an electronic commerce enabled application for facilitating international commerce.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Recently, there has been an explosion of interest in the transaction of business by interconnected computers linked together in formal networks. The greatest interest is directed to the largest network today, known as the Internet. The Internet is in fact a compilation of smaller linked networks all providing essentially free public access to a wealth of information, stored at individual sites managed by numerous participants on the Internet. The Internet has already changed in dramatic fashion many of the ways people communicate, collect, and share information. More will certainly come, as a greater percentage of our population become comfortable with the machinations required to access and communicate with others on the Internet.

Of particular interest is the world wide web, or what is now more often abbreviated as the "web". The web is a collection of interconnected computers forming an important subset of the Internet. Due to its graphic capabilities, the web is fast becoming the focal point of all Internet communications, which are enhanced by the use of hyperlinks (or "links") interconnecting web sites to other sites using a special protocol. This protocol employs a common software structure predicated on the use of the computer code known as hypertext markup language or HTML. A link is created with this form of programming language by having a word in a text field (or a graphic image on a web page) linked to the location of another web page, via a string of information setting forth, at a minimum, the new web page address presented in hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP).

One of the greatest promises for the Internet involves its use as a vehicle of commerce, which is also known as electronic commerce. The enhanced communication, rich text, and graphic environment makes the web ideal for supporting a wide variety of transactions, with many of the features of a large collection of separate stores, such as a mall or similar environment, but with the ability to extensively shop a number of competing chains in an instant. By hopping between competing vendors on the web, the customer is able to obtain a good price with minimal difficulty, i.e., no hassles for parking, surly store clerks, poor inventory, etc. With the use of secured credit cards, smart cards, electronic wallets or similar means, the web customer has many capabilities that his sidewalk counterpart is lacking.

One area where there have been a number of problems in implementing electronic commerce is in the area of international transactions. This situation is simply described as having the vendor of a product in one country while the would- be purchaser is in another country. The problems for the purchaser include uncertain shipping and import costs, which are not always available on the vendors web site, in many cases the vendor does not disclose import duties in foreign countries for their products. With respect to delivery costs, since popular items purchased are relatively small, e.g. wine, clothing, the shipping options are limited to UPS, Federal Express, DHL or the like, which are highly expensive.

The cost unknowns remove from the international customer one of the major advantages of electronic commerce, the ability to do comparison shopping. This inability results from the failure to provide import costs including such things as freight, tariff, duty and import/export charges to the purchaser, so the purchaser can determine whether there is a cost benefit in purchasing the product from the foreign vendor. The failure to provide or even determine this information puts foreign vendors at a serious disadvantage when dealing outside of their country of origin. Another problem for customers in attempting to make electronic commerce purchases from vendors in foreign countries is the inability to receive shipment- tracking information. One of the reasons for this, is that the vendor who sells the product does not itself have the ability to track the location of the product during international shipment. Another reason for the problem in shipment tracking is that more than one shipping company may be involved and the information between the different shipment companies is not seamlessly consolidated. This inability in being able to determine the status of shipments makes it difficult to determine the time when a product is to arrive or to give the customer an approximate product receipt date.

A further problem for expanding electronic commerce internationally is that most electronic commerce sites are geared to customers in the vendor's country of origin. This is especially true in terms of overall language of the site, the terminology used in the description of the goods and currency in which the product costs are calculated. Furthermore, size measurement differences, import regulations, regulatory approval requirements, import licenses and other specific information useful for making personal import selection are not clarified.

The difficulty in determining the total import costs of products, their shipping status and the lack of a localized web site each serve as a barrier for electronic commerce. The inability to perform these determinations leaves many businesses interested in conducting electronic commerce, whether they sell to customers or other businesses, without the ability to compete against companies that have already established international sales channels. Therefore, many businesses are unable to compete effectively internationally by utilizing electronic commerce.

Therefore, there exists a need for an efficient method and system for facilitating international electronic commerce in order to bring the full benefits of electronic commerce to international businesses. SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention allows vendors the ability to sell products and services to customers outside of their national borders by outsourcing functions as to international shipping and import processing including customs management for such transactions.

A feature of the present invention allows customers to have the ability to purchase products from all over the world at reduced import costs by consolidating shipments under a single bill of lading from one or more merchants in one country to many customers in a different country. Another feature of the present invention allows for providing customers real time total import costs thereby allowing customers to instantaneously know the costs at the point of purchase for purchasing the products from vendors outside of their own country.

An additional feature of the present invention provides customers the ability to track the progress of shipments of their products from a foreign vendor during all stages of the shipping and import processing.

A further feature of the present invention allows for internationalization of electronic commerce web sites by the use of the appropriate customer language and by providing size measurement adjustments, import regulation clarification, regulatory approval information, support for obtaining import licenses, and other specific information for clarifying the import process for the particular countries or regions. This allows a merchant not only to be able to enhance their business opportunities in many countries but to be able to market their products in the most effective way for the sale to customers in each country by allowing customers to make purchase decisions with a better understanding of the overall import process.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Fig. 1 is a diagram of a system according to a presently preferred embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 2 is a flow chart of the purchasing process according to a presently preferred embodiment of the present invention; and Fig. 3 is a diagram of the distribution of functions of the system according to a presently preferred embodiment of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS Referring to Fig. 1 , a plurality of customer computing devices, including desk top computer 1 0, a work station 1 2, portable computer 14, and a palm computer 1 6 are utilized by different customers to browse, through a wide area network 20, the electronic commerce web site of and purchase products from vendors 30, 32 and 34. Customer computing devices can also include such things wireless communication devices, set top boxes, or other devices capable of two way data communication. The customers utilizing desktop computer 1 0, a workstation 1 2, portable computer 1 4, and a palm computer 1 6 or the like can be in a country different than vendors 30, 32 and 34. Linked to each electronic commerce presence of vendors 30, 32 and 34 through wide area network 20 is import server 50. Import sever 50, and vendors 30, 32 and 34, are linked with customers that are in different countries than the vendors 30, 32 and 34. In addition packaging agent server 40, shipper server 60 and local delivery agent server 70 are in contact with vendors 30, 32, and 34 as well as the import server 50.

The packaging agent server 40 contains information provided by a packaging agent whose role is to package the products ordered by the customer from the vendor for transfer to the shipper. A packaging agent is utilized if the vender does not have accurate packaging capability or if a designated packaging agent is utilized as a part of the import operation. The shipper server 60 contains information provided by the shipper whose role it is to transport the products ordered by the customers from the vendor's country to the countries of the customers. The local delivery agent server 70 contains information for the local delivery agent whose role is to receive the goods from the shipper, after the shipper has brought the goods into the customer's country, and deliver them to the customer. The import server 50 provides many functions including allowing multiple customers to consolidate their shipments utilizing a single bill of lading. The import server 50 also facilitates providing a real time total import cost to the customer including, but not limited to, packing costs, inland delivery charges, freight charges, import charges, tariffs, duties, taxes, insurance, local delivery charges and handling costs, which are then added to the product cost to determine the total import cost to the customer. It should be noted that the real time total import cost, while not alterable from the customer's perspective, is really an estimate based upon an expected number of products to be shipped under the current bill of lading in which the products that the customer is ordering will be consolidated. The use of an adjusted freight charge schedule, apportioned import charge schedule and pre-classified tax schedule, provide advantages in allowing the vendor server 30, 32 and 34 to be able to provide a total import cost quote to the customer at the point of purchase. By consolidating multiple products for multiple customers in a single bill of lading, the import charges including such things as document handling charges, terminal handling charges, storage fees, customs clearance fees, inspection fees, and import license fees are divided amongst the customers based upon their share of the expected number of items to be shipped as part of a consolidated bill of lading. By dividing the import charges amongst all of the customers, which otherwise would have to be paid by each customer, the import charges and therefore the total import cost to each customer is reduced. Also by consolidation of multiple products for multiple customers in a single bill of lading, a reduced bulk freight rate, e.g. commercial air or sea cargo, can be applied to all consolidated products. The import server 50, through communication with vendor servers 30, 32 or 34, packing agent server 40, shipper server 60, local delivery agent server 70, tracks the in transit shipment progress of each shipping batch under separate bills of lading, and can accurately update the customer of their status by utilizing EDI interfaces.

Using the EDI backed server network commercial cargo, sea or air, is cost competitive shipping solution for bulk imports. In traditional import practices, local delivery documents and shipping labels were prepared after the shipment arrived at the trading company's warehouse. The present invention, while utilizing conventional commercial cargo, create local delivery documents and shipping labels at the vendor's site, for local delivery in the customer's country, thereby achieving a seamless delivery structure and eliminating inventory processing once the products leave the vendor site.

In an additional embodiment of the present invention a transparent international functionality that allows the customer to review the vendors product e-commerce catalog in his or her own language and according to the local requirement is provided. Information tailored for local requirements can include such things as size measurements, import regulations, any requirements for regulatory approval of certain products in that country, import license information, or other country specific product or importing information. In addition each country's international layer can include different product offerings from another country's international layer product offering for each individual vendor. The need to offer different products, from the same merchant, in different countries can occur simply for strategic marketing reasons or due to import restrictions, e.g. an alcohol vendor may not have a license to sell all types liquors in Japan and therefore would offer fewer liquors in their Japanese layer than in their French layer.

The transparent international layer functionality can be implemented by having static web pages for each country in which the vendor is offering products. In order to obtain the specific site for their country, the customer can press a country button displayed on their web browser. The country button can be an application resident on the vendors web site or can be in the form of a universal resource locator, which is input by the customer, which corresponds to the localized electronic point of presence. Regardless of the specific method utilized to allow employment the international layer, the customer is able to view the localized electronic commerce web site and be able to view the product offerings and receive product and import information in their own language and according to their own requirements.

The international layer can either be created by the vendor or be created by a third party, such as the operator of the import server 50. Further, vendor server 30, 32 or 34, or import server 50 can contain the international layer. The vendor can also subscribe to a maintenance program from the import server 50, where the import server maintains their international layer functionality of the electronic commerce web site for the vendor, and can even include support for e-mail correspondence functionality in foreign languages for the vendor. Further, in the case that the import server 50 acts as a portal site for personal imports from multiple countries, traffic to each affiliated merchant will increase. Visitors to the portal site residing on the import server 50 will be able to link to partnering vendor sites whether they are located on the import server 50 or the vendor servers 30, 32 or 34. All of the features, whether international functionality, utilization as a personal import portal web site, or bill of lading aggregation will increase the traffic to the vendors' electronic commerce web sites. The increase in traffic can be monitored, and a traffic charge can be assessed to the partnering vendors based upon the additional hits to the vendors web sites . Referring to Fig. 2, a customer searching through the vendor electronic commerce web site, finds the product(s) they are interested in, and then utilizes their customer computing device to transmit a purchase inquiry, step 100. It is presently preferred that the customer, then registers, a profile in the vendor server 30, 32 or 34, step 1 10. The presently preferred profile includes the customer's name, address, telephone number, facsimile number, e-mail address, credit card, debit card or cyber payment information. The customer profile is presently preferred to be copied from the vendor server to the import server 50.

Vendor server 30, 32, or 34 then confirms the price, product inventory or back order status, size, weight, packing dimensions, packing charge, packing schedule, inland delivery charge and inland delivery schedule for the product, step 1 20. A packaging agent, if subcontracted by the Vendor, provides information regarding the dimensions of the product and its weight as packed, packing charges and inland delivery schedule, step 1 30. Vendor server 30, 32 or 34 then communicates with import server 50, which provides to the vendor server 30, 32, or 34 the next available shipping batch schedule and space made available by the shipper, step 1 40. The import server 50 also provides an adjusted freight charge, apportioned handling charge, import license' charge, if need be, pre-classified tariff, duty, taxes, insurance, local delivery charge, customer service charge, if applicable, and any additional margins charged by the import server 50, step 1 50. Shipper server 60 provides import processing lead time to the vendor server, step 1 60. A vendor server 30, 32 or 34 then communicates with local delivery agent server 70 to confirm local delivery schedules and charges, step 1 70. The vendor server 30, 32 or 34 then calculates the total import cost of the product and estimated arrival schedule for order confirmation based upon the information provided by the packaging agent server 40, import server 50, international shipper server 60, and local delivery agent server 70, step 1 80. This information is then provided to the customer for viewing on their customer computing device, step 1 90. The customer is therefore able to see the total cost and estimated arrival date on the web page in a matter of seconds. The customer can then press an order confirmation button, or otherwise inputs an order confirmation, to confirm the purchase.

When the customer confirms his or her order, and the total import cost, as confirmed by the vendor at step 1 80, is charged to the customer's credit card, debit card, or cyber payment account, step 200. Vendor server 30, 32 or 34 then communicates with the import server 50, to pay the adjusted freight charge, import license charges, pre-classified taxes, insurance costs, local delivery charges, customer service charges, if necessary, and any additional markups, and then updates its account balance, step 205. Vendor then moves the product to the packaging area, or to the subcontracted packaging agent, and the product is packaged. After which, the shipping documents and labels are attached and the packaged product is delivered to the shipper site, step 210. Import server 50, then provides in transit shipping updates to the client, step 220. Import server 50, then communicates with shipper server 60 and local delivery agent server 70, pays the shipper's actual freight, actual import charges, import license fees, tariff, duty, taxes and insurance and pays the local delivery agent charges to the local delivery agent, step 230. When the products consolidated on the same bill of lading arrive at the shipper site or when the shipping time limit has arrived, the shipper server 60 communicates with the import server 50, notifying the import server 50 the status of the products and requests finalization of the bill of lading. After receiving the final bill of lading, the shipper proceeds to ship the products included in the bill of lading, processes the products that are included in the bill through customs and delivers the products to the local delivery agent, step 240. Local delivery agent delivers the products to the customers, gets signed receipts from the customers to confirm delivery. This information is then communicated from the delivery agent server 70 to the vendor server 30, 32 or 34, import server 50 and the shipper server 60, step 250. The import agent's customer service then follows up with the customer for claims, if such follow up is required, step 260.

In order to aggregate imports and provide real time total import cost estimates, the import server 50 communicates with shipper server 60 to purchase bulk shipping space and transmit information regarding freight and product deliveries. Further, the import server 50 is in communication with local delivery agent server 70 to constantly update the local delivery charges. In this way import server 50 is in constant communication with shipper server 60 and local delivery agent server 70, and is able to obtain constant shipping and delivery cost updates, be able to update the freight charge schedule, apportioned import charge schedule, pre-classified tax schedule, insurance schedules, and local delivery schedules, to be able to provide real time cost estimates to the customers. Additionally, by being in constant communication with shipper server 60 and local delivery agent server 70, the import server 50 can allow customers to use customer computing device 10, 1 2, 14 or 1 6 to access and retrieve the shipping status of their products at all times, regardless of the number of shippers and delivery agents involved. Referring to Fig. 3, the vendor server 270 contain a customer profile file 300 that includes information regarding each of the vendor's registered customers and customers who have purchased products from the vendor in the past. The information can include the customer's name, address, telephone number, facsimile number, e-mail address, credit card, debit card or cyber cash account information. Vendor master order file 310 contains information regarding import orders placed for the vendor's products. Product price table 320 contains information regarding the cost for each of the vendor's offered products. The inventory-back order file 330 contains information regarding the availability and, if applicable, the back order status of any of the products currently offered by the vendor. Product size, weight, packaging dimensions table 340 contains information regarding the dimensions of the product and its weight, or as packaged, for the purpose of determining its shipping costs. Vendor packing charge schedule file 350 includes any packing charges for packing the products offered by the vendor for international shipment, whether performed by the vendor or the packaging agent. Vendor packaging schedule file 360 includes the time table when the third party packaging service or the vendor will have the packaged product ready for inland delivery. Vendor account balance control table 390 contains the account information for each of the customers and all payments made by customers for the international transactions.

Vendor inland delivery charge schedule file 380 and vendor inland delivery schedule 390 file can reside either on the vendor server or the server of a third party inland shipper who is responsible for shipping the product from the vendor, or packing company, to the shipper. The vendor inland delivery charge schedule file 380 contains the costs for transporting the packaged products from the vendor to the shipper. The vendor inland delivery schedule 370 contains the timing and scheduling information for the next available pick up and delivery times to the shipper for the packaged product based upon its availability from the vendor or packing company.

The packaging agent server 275 contains packaging weight and dimensions table 400, packaging agent packaging charge schedule file 41 0, packaging agent packaging schedule file 420, packaging agent inland delivery charge schedule file 430, packaging agent inland delivery schedule file 440 and packaging agent account balance control file 450. The packaging agent server 275 exists only if the packaging services have been subcontracted by the vendor or have been required based upon an agreement with the importer. The packaging weight and dimension table 410 contains information regarding the dimensions of the product and its weight as packaged for the purpose of determining its shipping costs. The packaging agent packaging schedule file 420 provides a time table when the third party packaging service or the vendor will have the packaged product ready for inland delivery. The packaging agent inland delivery charge schedule file 430 includes information regarding the costs for shipping the packaged products from the packaging agent to the shipper. The packaging agent inland delivery schedule file 440 contains information regarding the timing and scheduling information for the next available pick up and delivery times to the shipper for the packaged product based upon its availability after packaging. The packaging agent account balance control file 450 maintains the account balance information for the customers for services rendered by the packaging agent.

Import server 280 contains a master customer profile file 460 containing customer information for all venders serviced by the import server 280. Consolidated bill of lading master file 470 is linked with vendors' master order files 310 to maintain the information regarding all of the product information for each of the products contained in each bill of lading generated by the import server 280. Consolidated bill of lading master schedule file 480 contains the scheduling and location information for each product in each bill of lading, which allows the import server 280 to make shipment status information available to the customers for their orders. Adjusted freight charge schedule file 490 provides the adjusted freight costs for shipping each of the products that are offered by the affiliated vendors of the import server 280. The adjusted freight charge schedule is established and updated based on an estimated total weight or volume assumption for each shipping batch under a bill of lading. For example, each shipment could be assumed to contain 50 items and then be adjusted as needed based upon actual demand. With this method, a volume discounted freight charge can be calculated for each of the consolidated parcels in the bill of lading. Apportioned import charge schedule file 500 contains the apportioned import charges for the products under a bill of lading. The apportioned import charge schedule is established and updated based on the estimated expected consolidation of each shipping batch under a bill of lading, e.g. basing each bill of lading on containing 50 items and adjusting it as needed. With this method, an apportioned import charge will be applicable to each of products in a bill of lading. The presently preferred Import charges that are apportioned by import charge schedule file 500 include: (a) customs clearance charges, (b) import document handling charges, (c) terminal handling charges, (d) applicable storage fees, (e) import license application fees, e.g. for food or alcohol, (f) inspection charges, (g) additional charges for such things as holiday operation, night shift operation, non-business hours operation, etc. Import license charge schedule file 510 includes the costs for import licenses for products that require import licenses in the different countries served.

Local delivery charge schedule 520 contains the local delivery charges of the local delivery agents. Pre-classified tax schedule table 530 contains the tariff, duty, tax (e.g. liquor tax), and consumption tax information for each "pre- classified" product that the shipper is capable of importing into each country. Insurance schedule table 540 contains insurance costs charged by the shipper, or affiliated insurer, for each product that shipper will ship. The apportioned import charge schedule file 500, adjusted freight charge schedule file 490, pre-classified tax schedule table 530 are presently preferred to be set on a regular basis, e.g. quarterly or annually, and are preferred not to be updated for each item or bill of lading. The setting of the costs for these files on a regular basis, may or may not result in the assumption of the risk of an increase of any of those costs on behalf of the entity running the import server 280.

It is also presently preferred that the handling charges in the apportioned import charge schedule file 500 and shipping costs per bill of lading in the adjusted freight charge schedule file 490 include a mark up to compensate the potential of having an less than expected number of items shipped as part of a bill of lading. International layer charge schedule file 550 contains information regarding charges to the vendors for the maintenance and hosting of the international functionality, if applicable to the merchant. Customer service charge schedule file 560 contains the customer service fees charged to vendors that utilize customer service features provided by the import server. Import mark up schedule file 570 contains all mark ups charged to the vendors for services rendered by the import server. Import server account balance control file 580 contains the account balances for each of the vendors and customers that utilize the import server 280 and is updated based upon payments made by the import server 280 to the shipper server 285 and local delivery server 290, as well as payments to the import server 280 from the vendor server 270. Shipper server 285 is the server for the international shipper and has several resident files. Shipper consolidated bill of lading file 590 contains the same information as, and is updated by, the consolidated bill of lading master file 470. Freight charge schedule file 600 contains the international freight costs, for all carriers including air or sea, for each shipment by the shipper, based upon weight or volume. Cargo space availability schedule file 610 contains availability of space for shipping items by all means available to the shipper. The information in the cargo space availability schedule file 610 is preferably maintained by the shipping times and dates for each carrier utilized by the shipper. Import processing lead time schedule file 620 contains the lead time information for the shipper to clear customs and deliver the products to the local delivery agent's site. Import charge schedule file 630 includes the import charges by the shipper such as customs clearance charges, document handling charges, terminal handling charges, storage fees, application for restricted import fees, inspection charges, and any additional charges for bringing products into each country it services. Shipper account balance control file 640 contains information regarding the payments made by shipper for all of the products that it has processed based upon consolidated bills of lading from the import server 280 and maintains a balance as to payment to be paid by the import server 280 for the fees incurred by the shipper.

Local delivery agent server 290 is the server of the local delivery agent in the customer's country. For each country, it is possible that multiple local delivery agents are utilized to deliver customer products and therefore multiple local delivery agent servers are in communication with the import server 280. Master local delivery schedule file 640 contains all of the products from each bill of lading that the local delivery agent is responsible for delivering to the customers, after clearance of customs. Local delivery charge schedule file 650 contains updated cost information for delivering the products, after clearance of customs, to the customer. Product category, destination, and weight or volume preferably maintains the information in local delivery charge schedule file 650. Document and labeling files 660 contains the information for creating document labels, which are to be generated by the vendor and placed on the packages by the vendor prior to inland delivery to make the products ready to be delivered by the local delivery agent. Local delivery agent account balance control file 670 contains all of the charges incurred by the local delivery agent and all payments made by the import server 280 to the delivery agent.

Customers, using various types of personal computing devices, access the vendor's web site, or visits an import portal to determine partnering vendor web sites. The customer may select the country button on the screen, or input the country name to access the designate international layer for the country. The customer then searches through the web site, to find products they are interested in purchasing and then places an inquiry to get more information. The vendor's server 270 will communicate with a packaging agent server 275, if contracted, to immediately confirm the product price 320, inventory/back order status 330, size, weight, packaged dimensions 340 and 400, packaging charges 350 and 410, packaging schedule 360 or 420, inland delivery charges 380 or 430, and inland delivery schedule 370 or 440. The vendor server then communicates with the import server to confirm the next available shipping batch schedule and space 480, adjusted freight charges 490, apportioned import charges 500, import licensing charges 51 0, if required, pre-classified tax schedule 530, insurance costs 540, local delivery charges 520, customer service charges 560, if required, and any other mark ups 570. Vendor server 270 then communicates with the shipper server to confirm the import process lead-time 620 and with the local delivery agent server to confirm the local delivery schedule 680. Vendor server 270 then calculates the total import cost and tentative delivery date, and responds to the customer with the total import cost of the product and tentative delivery date for order confirmation by the customer. Therefore, the customer in a matter of seconds sees the total cost and estimated arrival time. Then the customer can decide to order the product based upon this information. When a customer confirms their decision to place an order, the vendor adds the order information to vendor master order file 31 0 and processes the total cost charge from customer's credit card, debit card or cyber cash account. The vendor server then adjusts its inventory/back order file 330, and includes the product information to the packaging schedule file 360, inland delivery schedule file 370 and account balance control table 390. The packaging information is then transmitted to packaging agent server 275, if a packaging service is subcontracted. Vendor server 270 communicates with import server 280 to book the consolidated shipping batch space and add the product to a bill of lading in consolidated bill of lading master file 470 and consolidated bill of lading master schedule file 480. Vendor server 270, based on the updated master order file 310, communicates with international shipper server 285 to provide an estimated product arrival date to the shipper's shipping location. Vendor server 270 also communicates with import server 280, based on the registered shipping batch's schedule and import processing lead-time, to provide an estimated inland arrival to the shipper and import server 280. From the estimated inland arrival information the import server 280 can determine the bill of lading in which to include the product being provided by the vendor. The vendor server also provides local delivery agent server 290 with the estimated product arrival date. Vendor server 270 based on the information contained in master order file

31 0 creates an invoice, sales transaction document, inventory move ticket to move the product(s) from stock room to the packing area or to the packaging agent, inland delivery documents and shipping labels, and other shipping related documents. Vendor server 270 communicates with local delivery agent server 290 to generate local delivery documents and shipping label in the customer's country. Vendor server 270 then books the order information into the account balance control table 390.

Import server 280 communicates with the vendor server 270 to link the master order file 31 0 to consolidated bill of lading master file 470 and consolidated bill of lading master schedule file 480 so that these files contain all of the necessary information. In addition, the customer information from the customer profile file 300 is checked, during each transaction, to determine if the profile for that customer is already contained in master customer profile file 460. Import server 280 then determines an adjusted freight charge, apportioned import charge, pre-classified taxes, insurance, local delivery charge, import license charge, customer service charge, and mark up to the vender. Import server 280, then communicates with shipper server 285, to check the arrival of all the products registered on the consolidated bill of lading master schedule file 480. The import server then finalizes the shipping batch, issues the consolidated bill of lading, and updates the consolidated bill of lading master file 470. Import server 280 also communicates with local delivery agent server 290 to update the master local delivery schedule file 640 for the addition of the product(s) of the current order. Import server 280 then sends e-mail, or other confirmation information, including an updated schedule for the customer's purchased product to the customer. Import server 280, at a later time or instantaneously, communicates with shipper server 285 and local delivery agent server 290 to pay all the charges to the shipper and local delivery agent based on actual freight, import charges, tax and insurance and update the import server account balance control file 580.

It should be noted that the final bill of lading is generated only after the import server confirms receipt of the products by the shipper, while all prior bills of lading are files maintained in the import server 280.

The shipper is responsible for attaching all of the shipping documents received from the vender to the consolidated bill of lading issued by the import server, shipping the products based on the shipping instruction in the bill of lading, which is provided by consolidated bill of lading master file 470, processing the import,, and delivering the products to the local delivery agent site. All of the charges, including freight, import charges, taxes, and insurance are paid by shipper, and updated in the account balance file 640 on shipper server 285, and charged back to account balance control file 580 through communication with import server 280. Shipper server 285 communicates with import server 280 to provide information, for transmission to the local delivery agent server 290, as to when products that are part of a consolidated bill of lading clear customs. A copy of the customs clearance information is then transmitted to vendor server 270.

The local delivery agent is responsible for local delivery of the products to the customer, obtaining receipt confirmation, and providing feed back of receipt confirmation to import server 280. The delivery agent or import server 280 can provide copies of the confirmation to vendor server 270 and shipper server 285. Vendor server 270 updates the master order file 31 0 to reflect receipt of shipment, while import server 280 updates the consolidated bill of lading master file 470 and consolidated bill of lading master schedule file 480 based upon the confirmation. Shipper server 285 updates its consolidated bill of lading file 590 based upon this confirmation. Local delivery agent server 290 updates its master local delivery schedule file 640 to reflect receipt by the customer. Local delivery charges incurred will be charged to import server 280, and will be reflected in the local delivery agent account balance control file 670 that will be updated. It should be noted that the import server could maintain multiple bills of lading for the same country of delivery, although this is not required, as well as for multiple countries of delivery. The advantage of having multiple bills of lading for the same country include the ability to place the product(s) for each customer in a shipping container or shipping group with other items that are similar for faster shipment and for making sure the product(s) are maintained in the appropriate environmental and handling conditions, e.g. shipping electronic equipment as a group instead of a lot with electronic equipment, wine and building materials. A further advantage of utilizing multiple bills of lading is that the space in each container or bundle shipped can be maximized. Although the import server 50 or 280, vendor server 30, 32, 34, or 270, shipper server 60 or 285 and local delivery agent server 70 or 290 are described as being separate servers with separate functions, any of the functions described with respect to any of the servers can be performed on any of the other servers. Further, the actual servers themselves can be combined. For example, vendor server 30, 32, 34, or 270 can perform all or part of the functions of import server 50 or 280 where the vendor provides international shipping services to its own and its partners customers. Additionally, the shipper server 60 or 285 can perform all or part of the functions of the import server, in the case where the shipping company performs the consolidation of the bill of lading. It is also possible in the case where the shipper and the local delivery agent are the same or affiliated entities that the functions of shipping server 60 or 285 and local delivery agent server 70 or 290 are combined into a single server.

Further, the vendor can chose an arrangement so that some part of the total import cost may be charged direct to the customer, e.g. the tariff, duty, taxes or local delivery charge. Although, this disclosure refers to import charges as including document handling charges, terminal handling charges, storage fees, customs clearance fees, inspection fees, and import license fees, the term import charges as used herein can be used to refer to a group of charges including more items or less items than the above list, and may include the same charges which have different names than those described above. Further, the import charges will vary depending upon the procedures for importing that will vary from country to country.

While the embodiments, applications and advantages of the present inventions have been depicted and described, there are many more embodiments, applications and advantages possible without deviating from the spirit of the inventive concepts described and depicted herein. The invention should only be restricted in accordance with the spirit of the claims appended hereto and is not restricted by the preferred embodiments, specification or drawings.

Claims

WHAT IS CLAIMED IS:
1 . A method for conducting international commerce, comprising receiving a purchase request from a first purchaser to purchase at least one product from at least one vendor in a first country and to ship the at least one product to a second country, the second country being different than the first country; and adding information related to the at least one product including shipping information to a bill of lading, wherein the bill of lading includes information for a plurality of products including the at least one product each corresponding to a purchaser of the plurality of purchasers including the one purchaser and each purchaser of the plurality of purchasers requesting delivery from the first country to a location in the second country.
2. The method of Claim 1 further comprising the steps of determining an international shipping cost for each of the plurality of products included in the bill of lading; determining a tax, tariff and duty cost for each product of the plurality of products, the tax, tariff and duty cost corresponding to an import tariff in the second country for importing each product, including the at least one product; and calculating a total import cost for the at least one product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product and the international shipping cost for the at least one product.
3. The method of Claim 2 further comprising determining an import charge including customs clearance costs, document handling costs, terminal handling costs, storage fees, inspection costs and any necessary import license application costs for the plurality of products included in the bill of lading information; and determining an apportioned import charge for each product of the plurality of products included in the bill of lading based upon an expected number of products to be included in the bill of lading; wherein the step of calculating the total import cost for the at least one product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product, the international shipping cost, which comprises freight, insurance, storage, vendor country delivery to shipper product and the apportioned import charge for the at least one product.
4. The method of Claim 3 further comprising the step of transmitting the total import cost to the purchaser.
5. The method of Claim 3 wherein the import charge and the international shipping cost are predetermined costs that are not calculated at the time of calculating the total import cost.
6. The method of Claim 3 further comprising a step of determining the international shipping cost for the at least one product is determined based upon an apportioned international shipping cost corresponding to a percentage share of an expected weight or volume to be shipped as part the bill of lading.
7. The method of Claim 3 further comprising the step of determining a delivery cost corresponding to a cost of delivering to the location in the second country each product, including the at least one product, to an appropriate purchaser of the plurality of purchasers and wherein the step of calculating a total import cost for each product of the plurality of products comprises a step of calculating a total import cost for the at least one product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product, the international shipping cost, which comprises freight, insurance, storage, vendor country delivery to shipper product, the apportioned import cost for the at least one product and the delivery cost for the at least one product.
8. The method of Claim 7 wherein the total import cost is calculated in a currency corresponding to a currency of the second country, the method further comprising a step of calculating a currency conversion of the total import cost from the second country to the first country.
9. The method of Claim 8 further comprising the step of transmitting the total import cost to the purchaser.
10. The method of Claim 1 further comprising the step of a receiving a confirmation of delivery of the product of the plurality of products by a delivery agent that delivers the product to the one purchaser.
1 1 . The method of Claim 1 further comprising generating shipping labels and local delivery labels and attaching the generated shipping labels and local delivery labels to a package including the at least one product prior to shipping the at least one product.
1 2. An apparatus for electronic commerce enabled aggregation for facilitating international commerce comprising: an interface that receives input signals transmitted to and provides output signals transmitted from the apparatus; a tax, tariff, and duty database in communication with the interface, the tax, tariff and duty database comprising tariff information regarding import taxes, tariffs and duties related to a plurality of products in a plurality of countries; a consolidated delivery charge database in communication with the interface, the consolidated delivery charge database comprising information regarding shipping costs between the plurality of countries; and a consolidated bill of lading application in communication with the interface, the consolidated bill of lading application generating a bill of lading for a number of products each of which is one of the plurality of products, wherein the bill of lading includes delivery information for a plurality of purchasers each of which corresponds to a product of the number of products and wherein each purchaser of a delivery location for each purchaser of the plurality of purchasers is in a country different than a country of each vendor of a plurality of vendors that are providing the number of products to the plurality of purchasers.
1 3. The apparatus of Claim 1 1 wherein the consolidated bill of lading application that calculates a delivery charge for a product of the plurality of products that includes costs for freight, insurance, storage fee, tax, tariff, duty delivery charges, and an apportioned import charge including customs clearance, document handling, and any import license application costs.
14. The apparatus of Claim 1 2 wherein the consolidated delivery charge database further includes information regarding a cost of delivering the plurality of products in the plurality of countries.
1 5. A method for facilitating international electronic commerce, including a server containing information regarding a plurality of products from at least one merchant, the server being accessible to a client application operable by a customer to review the information regarding a plurality of products on the server, wherein the customer and merchant are located in different countries, the method comprising: receiving a signal from the client application to provide international functionality applicable to a country of the customer; retrieving localized information for the plurality of products from the at least one merchant; and providing to the client application for viewing by the customer localized information for the plurality of products from the at least one merchant.
1 6. The method of Claim 1 5 wherein the localized information for the plurality of products comprises information describing the products in the language of the customer country.
1 7. The method of Claim 1 6 wherein the localized information further comprises size measurements according to the customer country standards and costs according to the customer country currency.
1 8. The method of Claim 1 6 wherein the localized information further comprises import regulations, requirement of regulatory approval on electric or electronic products, and import license information for the customer country.
1 9. The method of Claim 1 5 further comprising the steps of receiving a purchase inquiry from the client application regarding an inquiry regarding purchasing one of the plurality of products; determining an international shipping cost for the one product; determining a tax, tariff and duty cost for the one product, the tax, tariff and duty cost corresponding to an import tariff in the customer country for importing the one product; and calculating a total import cost for the at least one product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product and the international shipping cost for the at least one product.
20. The method of Claim 1 9 further comprising: determining an import charge including customs clearance costs, document handling costs, and any necessary import license application cost for the plurality of products included in the bill of lading information; and determining an apportioned import cost for each product of the plurality of products included in the bill of lading information including the at least one product; wherein the step of calculating the total import cost for the atleast one product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product, the international shipping cost, which comprises freight, insurance, storage, vendor country delivery to shipper and customer country delivery costs for the at least one product and the apportioned import charge for the at least one product.
21 . The method of Claim 20 wherein the international shipping cost for the product comprises a cost corresponding to an apportioned international shipping cost determined based upon a proportioned share of an expected weight or volume for the expected number of products included in the bill of lading.
22. The method of Claim 20 further comprising the step of transmitting the total import cost to the client application for viewing by the customer.
23. The method of Claim 20 further comprising receiving a confirmation from the client application indicative of a request to purchase the one product and including the one product in a bill of lading with other products destined for the customer country for other customers.
24. The method of Claim 23 further comprising receiving a request from the client application indicative of request to a shipping status of the one product and providing information as to the location of the one product to the client application for viewing by the customer.
25. The method of Claim 14 wherein the plurality of products comprises a lesser number of products than a total number of products offered by the merchant.
26. A method for determining a customer cost for importing a product from a first country to a second country, comprising: determining an international shipping cost for shipping the product trom tne first country to a second country; determining a tax, tariff and duty cost for importing the product into the second country, the tax, tariff and duty cost corresponding to an import tariff in the first country; determining an import charge including customs clearance costs, document handling costs, and any necessary import license application cost for a plurality of products included in a bill of lading that also includes the product; and determining an apportioned import charge for each product of the plurality of products included in the bill of lading based upon an expected number of products to be included in the bill of lading; calculating a total import cost for the product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product, the international shipping cost for the product, a product cost for the product and the apportioned import charge for the product.
27. The method of Claim 26 wherein the international shipping cost for the product comprises a cost corresponding to an apportioned international shipping cost determined based upon a proportioned share of an expected weight or volume for the expected number of products included in the bill of lading.
28. The method of Claim 26 wherein the international shipping cost comprises a bulk commercial cargo cost.
29. The method of Claim 28 further comprising the step of transmitting the total import cost to a customer in response to a purchase inquiry from the customer.
30. The method of Claim 26 further comprising the step of determining a delivery cost corresponding to a cost of delivering the product in the second country to an appropriate customer and wherein the step of calculating a total import cost comprises a step of calculating a total import cost for thee product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product, the international shipping cost for the product, a product cost for the product, the apportioned import charge for the product and the delivery cost for the product.
31 . The method of Claim 30 further comprising a step of determining an inland shipping cost in the first country for shipping the product and wherein the step of calculating a total import cost comprises a step of calculating a total import cost for the product corresponding to the sum of the tax, tariff and duty cost for the at least one product, the international shipping cost for the product, a product cost for the product, the apportioned import cost for the product, the delivery cost for the product and inland delivery cost.
32. The method of Claim 26 wherein the international shipping cost, the tax, tariff and duty cost and the import cost are predetermined costs that are not updated at the time of calculating the total import cost for the product.
33. The method of Claim 32 wherein the step of determining an international shipping cost for shipping the product from the first country to a second country comprises determining the international shipping cost from an adjusted freight table, wherein the step determining a tax, tariff and duty cost for importing the product into the second country, the tax, tariff and duty cost corresponding to an import tariff in the first country comprises determining the tax, tariff and duty cost from a pre-classified tax table, and wherein determining an import charge including customs clearance costs, document handling costs, and any necessary import license application cost for a plurality of products included in a bill of lading that also includes the product comprises determining the import charge based upon an apportioned import charge table.
PCT/US2000/030450 2000-03-21 2000-11-06 Electronic commerce enabled aggregation for facilitating international commerce WO2001071601A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
US53227300 true 2000-03-21 2000-03-21
US09/532,273 2000-03-21

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
AU1584301A AU1584301A (en) 2000-03-21 2000-11-06 Electronic commerce enabled aggregation for facilitating international commerce

Publications (1)

Publication Number Publication Date
WO2001071601A1 true true WO2001071601A1 (en) 2001-09-27

Family

ID=24121083

Family Applications (1)

Application Number Title Priority Date Filing Date
PCT/US2000/030450 WO2001071601A1 (en) 2000-03-21 2000-11-06 Electronic commerce enabled aggregation for facilitating international commerce

Country Status (1)

Country Link
WO (1) WO2001071601A1 (en)

Cited By (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20050137935A1 (en) * 2002-02-28 2005-06-23 Hohyung Lee Direct distribution system for consumer goods and services
WO2007102810A1 (en) * 2006-03-06 2007-09-13 Cowles Roger E Networked electronic commerce system

Citations (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US5890140A (en) * 1995-02-22 1999-03-30 Citibank, N.A. System for communicating with an electronic delivery system that integrates global financial services
US5968110A (en) * 1995-05-12 1999-10-19 Hardware Street, Inc. Method and apparatus for an interactive on line catalog system for facilitating international, cross-border transactions
US6125391A (en) * 1998-10-16 2000-09-26 Commerce One, Inc. Market makers using documents for commerce in trading partner networks
US6151588A (en) * 1994-10-13 2000-11-21 Tradecard, Inc. Full service trade system

Patent Citations (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US6151588A (en) * 1994-10-13 2000-11-21 Tradecard, Inc. Full service trade system
US5890140A (en) * 1995-02-22 1999-03-30 Citibank, N.A. System for communicating with an electronic delivery system that integrates global financial services
US6058378A (en) * 1995-02-22 2000-05-02 Citibank, N.A. Electronic delivery system and method for integrating global financial services
US5968110A (en) * 1995-05-12 1999-10-19 Hardware Street, Inc. Method and apparatus for an interactive on line catalog system for facilitating international, cross-border transactions
US6125391A (en) * 1998-10-16 2000-09-26 Commerce One, Inc. Market makers using documents for commerce in trading partner networks

Cited By (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20050137935A1 (en) * 2002-02-28 2005-06-23 Hohyung Lee Direct distribution system for consumer goods and services
US8793194B2 (en) * 2002-02-28 2014-07-29 Hohyung Lee Direct distribution system for consumer goods and services
WO2007102810A1 (en) * 2006-03-06 2007-09-13 Cowles Roger E Networked electronic commerce system

Similar Documents

Publication Publication Date Title
US7124098B2 (en) Online shopping system
Lancioni et al. The role of the Internet in supply chain management
US6954734B1 (en) Method of producing, selling, and distributing articles of manufacture
US6460020B1 (en) Universal shopping center for international operation
US7363271B2 (en) System and method for negotiating and providing quotes for freight and insurance in real time
US20040044582A1 (en) Automated transaction coordinator
US20040230601A1 (en) Apparatus and method for facilitating shipping commerce
US20070112647A1 (en) Webstore supporting multiple merchants
US20020095355A1 (en) Computer-implemented international trade system
US6594641B1 (en) Computer facilitated product selling system
US6934692B1 (en) On-line interactive system and method for transacting business
US20020077973A1 (en) Method and apparatus for issuing prepaid e-cash and calling cards and method of using the same
US20060085336A1 (en) Consistent set of interfaces derived from a business object model
US20020107777A1 (en) System and method for auctioning goods seized or recovered by local, county, state, or federal law enforcement agencies
US20020032668A1 (en) System and methods for enabling person to person product transfer via a communications network
US6975937B1 (en) Technique for processing customer service transactions at customer site using mobile computing device
US20020147656A1 (en) E-commerce using a catalog
US20010049634A1 (en) System and method for conducting electronic commerce in the metals industry
US20040212833A1 (en) System and method for generating shipping labels
US6625584B1 (en) Maritime freight option
US20060149577A1 (en) System and method for the customized processing of returned merchandise
US8266008B1 (en) Facilitating a supply of used items
US20020022967A1 (en) Goods delivery method, online shopping method, online shopping system, server, and vender server
US20100010918A1 (en) Multi-Merchant Payment System
US7565308B1 (en) Method of executing an electronic commerce sale from an affiliate web site

Legal Events

Date Code Title Description
AK Designated states

Kind code of ref document: A1

Designated state(s): AE AG AL AM AT AU AZ BA BB BG BR BY BZ CA CH CN CR CU CZ DE DK DM DZ EE ES FI GB GD GE GH GM HR HU ID IL IN IS JP KE KG KP KR KZ LC LK LR LS LT LU LV MA MD MG MK MN MW MX MZ NO NZ PL PT RO RU SD SE SG SI SK SL TJ TM TR TT TZ UA UG UZ VN YU ZA ZW

AL Designated countries for regional patents

Kind code of ref document: A1

Designated state(s): GH GM KE LS MW MZ SD SL SZ TZ UG ZW AM AZ BY KG KZ MD RU TJ TM AT BE CH CY DE DK ES FI FR GB GR IE IT LU MC NL PT SE TR BF BJ CF CG CI CM GA GN GW ML MR NE SN TD TG

121 Ep: the epo has been informed by wipo that ep was designated in this application
32PN Ep: public notification in the ep bulletin as address of the adressee cannot be established

Free format text: COMMUNICATION PURSUANT TO RULE 69 EPC (EPO FORM 1205 OF 300503)

122 Ep: pct application non-entry in european phase