WO2003009197A1 - Method of and system for distributing electronic coupons over a network after the consummation of a purchase transaction based on a client's purchase history - Google Patents

Method of and system for distributing electronic coupons over a network after the consummation of a purchase transaction based on a client's purchase history Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2003009197A1
WO2003009197A1 PCT/US2001/022670 US0122670W WO03009197A1 WO 2003009197 A1 WO2003009197 A1 WO 2003009197A1 US 0122670 W US0122670 W US 0122670W WO 03009197 A1 WO03009197 A1 WO 03009197A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
system
server system
item
over
distributing
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/US2001/022670
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Raviv Laor
Original Assignee
Catalina Marketing International, Inc.
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
Application filed by Catalina Marketing International, Inc. filed Critical Catalina Marketing International, Inc.
Priority to PCT/US2001/022670 priority Critical patent/WO2003009197A1/en
Publication of WO2003009197A1 publication Critical patent/WO2003009197A1/en

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    • GPHYSICS
    • G06COMPUTING; CALCULATING; COUNTING
    • G06QDATA PROCESSING SYSTEMS OR METHODS, SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES; SYSTEMS OR METHODS SPECIALLY ADAPTED FOR ADMINISTRATIVE, COMMERCIAL, FINANCIAL, MANAGERIAL, SUPERVISORY OR FORECASTING PURPOSES, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • G06Q30/00Commerce, e.g. shopping or e-commerce
    • G06Q30/02Marketing, e.g. market research and analysis, surveying, promotions, advertising, buyer profiling, customer management or rewards; Price estimation or determination

Abstract

A system for distributing electronic coupons over a communications network includes an e-tail server system having a computer processor and associated memory, the e-tail server system including items for sale; a promotion server system having a computer processor and associated memory, the promotion server system including a database of promotional items linked to promotional data that define electronic coupons; and a client system having a computer processor and associated memory, the client system being selectively coupleable to the e-tail server system over the communications network. The client system establishes a connection to the e-tail server system to conduct a purchase transaction in which the client system purchases an item from the e-tail server system. The e-tail server system transmits information about the purchased item to the promotion server system and the promotion server system transmits an electronic coupon to the client system, the electronic coupon being redeemable for an item that is related to the purchased item.

Description

METHOD AND SYSTEM FOR DISTRIBUTING ELECTRONIC COUPONS BASED ON A CLIENT'S PURCHASING

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to a method of and system for distributing electronic coupons over a network and more particularly to a method of and system for determining a client's purchasing history and distributing electronic coupons to the client, based on the purchasing history, after the consummation of the purchase transaction.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In order to increase the number of new customers who buy a particular product, many retail outlets, and grocery stores in particular, set up a database of certain items that they sell and link each of these primary items to a secondary item that is different from the primary item to which it is linked for the purpose of promoting the secondary item. As a customer is checking out and each item is scanned at the checkout, the items are momtored and simultaneously compared to the items in the database to determine whether any of the items are linked to a secondary item. If an item is linked to a secondary item, a coupon for the secondary item is printed out for the customer to use at a later date.

This system enables the store to provide, to a customer who may not normally purchase the secondary item, an incentive for purchasing the secondary item, simply because the customer purchased the primary item that was linked to the secondary item. The system thus potentially creates a new customer for the secondary item.

While this system is in use in the so-called "brick and mortar" outlets, there is no such system which enables an online retail store to provide coupons to customers for items in this manner. Furthermore, in the above-described system, there is no way for the retail outlets to provide coupons to customers based on purchases that the customer has made in the past.

Accordingly, it is an object of this invention to provide a method of and system for distributing electronic coupons over a network, in which the electronic coupons are distributed to the customer based on the purchasing history of the customer and after the consummation of the purchase transaction, so that the coupons can be redeemed at a later date.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The invention is directed to a method of and system for distributing electronic coupons over a network in which the electronic coupons may be redeemed at a later date. The electronic coupons are distributed based on the customer's purchasing history. An e- tail server system includes a plurality of items for sale and has access to a promotion server that includes a database of promotional items and promotional linking code for linking the promotional items to promotional terms that define electronic coupons. The promotional items are stored in the database according to the item category in which the products are classified. A client system is coupled to the e-tail server system over the network to consummate a purchase transaction by purchasing one of the items for sale. The e-tail server system transmits information about the purchased item to the promotion server system. The promotion server system searches its database to determine if the purchased item is a promotional item and, if so, generates an electronic coupon for a secondary item in the same item category as the purchased item and transmits it to the client system. The electromc coupon is generated after the consummation of the purchase transaction, thereby enabling the client system to save the electronic coupon in memory for use in a subsequent purchase transaction. In the preferred embodiment, the electronic coupon is redeemable toward an item which is in the same product category as the purchased item, but which is not the same as the purchased item.

A method of distributing an electronic coupon over a communications network, such as the internet, in accordance with one aspect of the invention includes the steps of establishing a connection over the communications network between a client system and an e-tail server system, the e-tail server system including items for sale, the items for sale being classified into at least one of a plurality of item categories; the client system consummating a purchase transaction by purchasing an item from the e-tail server system, the purchased item being classified in a particular item category; the e-tail server transmitting information about the purchased item to a promotion server system; and the promotion server system transmitting the electronic coupon to the client system, the electronic coupon being redeemable for a secondary item that is classified in the particular item category.

Prior to the electromc coupon transmitting step, the promotion server system may search a database of promotional items within the particular item category to determine if the purchased item is a promotional item. After searching the database, the promotion server may generate the electronic coupon for the secondary item based on promotional data linked to the promotional item. The client system may initiate a subsequent purchase transaction during a subsequent connection and redeem the electronic coupon upon consummating a subsequent purchase transaction in which the promotional item is purchased. The electronic coupon may be provided to the client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted to the client system directly from the promotion server system over the communications network. The electronic coupon may be provided to the client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted from the promotion server system to the e-tail server system over the communications network, and from the e-tail server system to the client system over the communications network. The client system may be connected to the network by a wired or wireless connection and the client system may be either a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant or a cellular telephone.

A system for distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to one aspect of the invention includes an e-tail server system having a computer processor and associated memory, the e-tail server system including items for sale; a promotion server system having a computer processor and associated memory, the promotion server system including a database of promotional items linked to promotional data that define electronic coupons; and a client system having a computer processor and associated memory, the client system being selectively coupleable to the e-tail server system over the communications network. The client system establishes a connection to the e-tail server system to conduct a purchase transaction in which the client system purchases an item from the e-tail server system. The e-tail server system transmits information about the purchased item to the promotion server system; and the promotion server system transmits an electronic coupon to the client system, the electromc coupon being redeemable for an item that is related to the purchased item.

The promotion server system may further include a searching device for searching the database to determine if the purchased item is a promotional item in the item category and electronic coupon generating means for generating the electronic coupon based on the promotional data linked to the promotional item. The client system may initiate a subsequent purchase transaction by selecting the related item and redeeming the electronic coupon upon consummating the subsequent purchase transaction. The electronic coupon may be provided to the client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted to the client system directly from the promotion server system over the communications network. The electronic coupon may be provided to the client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted from the promotion server system to the e-tail server system over the communications network, and from the e-tail server system to the client system over the communications network.

A system for distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to another aspect of the invention includes an e-tail server system having a computer processor and associated memory, the e-tail server system including items for sale; a promotion server system having a computer processor and associated memory, the promotion server system including a database of promotional items linked to promotional data that defines electronic coupons; and a client system having a computer processor and associated memory, the client system being selectively coupleable to the e-tail server system over the communications network. The client system establishes a connection to the e-tail server system to conduct a purchase transaction in which the client system purchases an item from the e-tail server system, the purchased item being classified in an item category; and the e-tail server system transmits category information about the purchased item to the promotion server system. The promotion server system includes a searching device for searching the database to determine if the purchased item is a promotional item in the item category and electronic coupon generating means for generating the electronic coupon based on the promotional data linked to the promotional item and providing, to the client system, the electronic coupon for the promotional item in the product category. A method of distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to yet another aspect of the invention includes the steps of establishing a connection over the network between a client system and an e-tail server system, the e-tail server system including items for sale; the client system consummating a purchase transaction by purchasing an item from the e-tail server system; the e-tail server system transmitting information about the purchased item to a promotion server system; and the promotion server system transmitting an electronic coupon to the client system, the electronic coupon being redeemable for a secondary item that is related to the purchased item.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing and other objects of this invention, the various features thereof, as well as the invention itself may be more fully understood from the following description when read together with the accompanying drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic view of a system for distributing electronic coupons in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a flow diagram of a method of distributing electronic coupons in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a more detailed diagrammatic view of the system of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic view of another embodiment of the system for distributing electronic coupons in accordance with the present invention; and

FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic view of yet another embodiment of the system for distributing electronic coupons in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is directed to a method of and system for distributing electronic coupons over a network. An electronic coupon is essentially a token issued by or under the authority of the issuer for the benefit of the recipient. Typically, the recipient receives the electronic coupon and subsequently redeems it for the prescribed benefit at some later point in time. Preferably, the electronic coupon enables or modifies an anticipated transaction such as by providing a discount in the price of goods or services provided by the issuer or the issuer's agent. According to the invention, the distribution of electronic coupons is determined based on the client's purchasing history. When the client purchases an item from an e-tail server system during a connection with the e-tail server, the e-tail server system transmits information about the purchased item to a promotion server, which searches its database to determine if the purchased item is a promotional item and transmits an electronic coupon for an item that is in the same category as the purchased item to the client system.

FIG. 1 is a diagram of a system 100 for distributing electromc coupons in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. The system 100 includes client system 110, server system 120 and server system 130, all connected to a common communications channel or network 160. Preferably, the client system 110, server system 120 and server system 130 can each be a personal computer such as an IBM PC or IBM PC compatible system or an APPLE® MacINTOSH® system or a more advanced computer system such as an Alpha-based computer system available from Compaq Computer Corporation or SPARC® Station computer system available from SUN Microsystems Corporation, although a main frame computer system can also be used. Preferably, the communications network 160 is a TCP/TP-based network such as the Internet or an intranet, although almost any well known LAN, WAN or VPN technology can be used.

In one preferred embodiment of the invention, the client system 110 is an IBM PC compatible system operating an operating system such as the Microsoft Windows® operating system, and server system 120 and server system 130 are configured as web servers providing access to information such as web pages in HTML format via a protocol such as the HyperText Transport Protocol (http). The client system 110 includes software to allow viewing of web pages, commonly referred to as a web browser, thus being capable of accessing web pages located on server system 120 and server system 130. Alternatively, client system 110 can be any wired or wireless device that can be connected to a communications network, such as an interactive television system, such as WEBTV, a personal digital assistant (PDA) or a cellular telephone. In this preferred embodiment, server system 120 is an e-tail server offering a plurality of items for sale over the network and server system 130 is a promotion server that has a database including a categorized inventory of promotional items offered for sale by the e-tail server system 120, promotional terms that define electronic coupons and promotional linking code for linking the items in the inventory to the promotional terms that define the electronic coupons. Promotion server system 130 also includes the software necessary to authenticate electronic coupons prior to their redemption. The items offered for sale by the e-tail server system 120 can be products and/or services.

In one preferred embodiment, promotion server system 130 includes web server software that is adapted to produce an electronic coupon that is transferred to the client system 110 in the form of an electronic token, including, but not limited to a cookie, that is stored in memory at the client system. Preferably, the electromc coupon is a data structure which can include any or all of the following information elements: data representative of an electronic coupon serial number or identification number, data representative of a unique key that can be used to validate or authenticate the coupon, data representative of the vendor that authorized the coupon and will redeem the coupon, data representative of the nature of the discount or access provided by the coupon and data representative of the server or entity that issued the coupon. In one preferred embodiment, the electronic coupon can be issued as part of an electronic coupon book. The coupon book can include data representative of a version number for the electronic coupon book and data representative of a serial number or identification number for the electronic coupon book.

In one preferred embodiment, the electronic coupon contains all the information necessary to redeem the coupon. Specifically, the electronic coupon identifies the grantor (i.e., the party or vendor that will redeem the electronic coupon), the nature of the discount or benefit provided and a unique serial number or other data structure that permits the electronic coupon to be authenticated or validated. Thus, a server redeeming this type of electromc coupon can obtain all the information necessary to redeem the coupon from the electronic coupon. The server can even include the software necessary to authenticate or validate the electronic coupon.

In an alternative embodiment, an electronic coupon book includes a unique serial number or identification number and data structure useful for authenticating or validating the electronic coupon book. The actual content of the electronic coupon book can be determined for example, by visiting a website which reads the coupon book serial number and provides the user with listings of the coupons available. A benefit to this configuration is the organization that issues the electronic coupon book can add vendors even after the electronic coupon book has been issued. Thus, if a vendor signs up with the organization that issues electronic coupon books after a particular coupon book has been issued to a client, the vendor can be added to the electronic coupon book at a later date. In order to redeem this type of electronic coupon, the server that intends to redeem the electronic coupon must connect to an authentication server which will authenticate or validate the coupon book and indicate the nature of the benefit of the electronic coupon to the server requesting authentication/validation. Another benefit of this configuration is that the coupons are relatively tamper-proof due to the authentication and validation facilities. In many prior art systems, coupons could be copied and/or altered by the user with relative ease; in the absence of validation/authentication schemes, few reliable methods for detection of such counterfeits exist.

The promotional linking code can be programmed into the promotion server system through the e-tail server system, thereby enabling the e-tail server system to program its own, in-house, promotions such as "in store" coupons. Additionally, the promotional linking code can be programmed into the promotion server system by one or more of the producers of the goods or providers of the services that are available for sale on the e-tail server system website associated with the e-tail server system 120, thereby enabling the producers of the goods or providers of the services to promote particular goods or services.

FIG. 2 shows a flow diagram 200 of a method of distributing electronic coupons in accordance with one preferred embodiment of the invention. In primary step 202, the client system 110, FIG. 1, establishes a connection with the e-tail server system 120 for the purpose of initiating a purchase transaction. After selecting an item from the e-tail server system 120, the client system 110 consummates the purchase transaction by rendering a payment for the selected item, step 204. Upon the consummation of the purchase transaction, the e-tail server system 120 transmits information about the purchased item to the promotion server system 130, step 206. The promotion server system searches its database, within the category in which the purchased item is classified, to determine if the purchased item is a promotional item, step 208. If it is, step 210, the promotion server system generates an electronic coupon for a secondary item in the pertinent category based on promotional data linked to the promotional item, step 212, and transmits the electronic coupon to the client system 110, step 214. The client can then save the coupon in memory and redeem it during a later connection with an e-tail server system, which may or may not be the same e-tail server at which the original purchase transaction took place. If the purchased item is not a promotional item, step 210, no coupons are generated and the process is ended.

The preceding embodiment is shown in greater detail in FIG. 3. First, the e-tail server system 120 provides instructions 220 to the promotion server for generating promotional links between a promotional item and a promotion for a secondary item. These instructions include identification information for the promotional item and the promotional data which defines the electronic coupon. The promotion server 130 then constructs the promotional linking code that links the promotional item to the promotional data. As described above, the promotional items are stored in categories in the database 230 of promotion server system 130. Additionally, a producer or provider of items 250 can provide instructions 252 to the promotion server 130, for the purpose of linking promotional items with promotional data for certain of its items, as described above.

A user operating a client system 110 establishes a primary connection 254 to the e- tail server system 120 over the communication network 160 for the purpose of initiating a purchase transaction. The user selects one or more of the items offered for sale by the e- tail server system 120, typically by placing the items into a "shopping cart" on the e-tail server system website. The client system 110 then consummates the purchase transaction by sending payment information to the e-tail server system 120. Upon consummation of the purchase transaction, e-tail server system 120 transmits information 258 to the promotion server system 130. The promotion server system then searches its database 230 to dtermine if the purchased item is a promotional item in the database 230 and, if it is, selects a secondary item in the same category as the purchased item, generates an electronic coupon for the secondary item based on the promotional data linked to the promotional item and transmits the electronic coupon to the client system 110. The electromc coupon is preferably provided to the client system in the form of screen display data. As shown in Fig. 3, the electronic coupon can be provided from the promotion server 130 to the e-tail server 120 via connection 260 and then to the client 110 by the e-tail server 120 via connection 262. Alternatively, the electromc coupon can be transmitted directly to the client 110 by the promotion server 130 via connection 264. The electronic coupon is then stored in the memory of the client 110 for use in a later purchase transaction.

In the later purchase transaction, when the client system 110 establishes a connection to the e-tail server system 120, the e-tail server system 120 detects the electromc coupon stored in the memory of the client system 110. The e-tail server system then authenticates the electronic coupon and modifies the purchase transaction accordingly. As discussed above, if the electronic coupon contains the information necessary to authenticate the electronic coupon, the electronic coupon can be authenticated and redeemed by the e-tail server. Alternatively, the e-tail server can access the promotion server that issued the coupon to obtain the information necessary for authenticating the coupon.

As described above, the electronic coupon is issued based the client's purchasing history and is redeemable for an item that is classified in the same category as the item purchased by the client in a previous purchase transaction. For example, if a client purchased diapers in the previous purchase transaction, the item information transmitted to the promotion server system by the e-tail server system would include information such as the product purchased and the category into which the product is classified. In this example, when the e-tail server system transmits the item information to the promotion server system, the promotion server system searches its database to determine if the particular brand of diapers purchased is listed in the database as a promotional item. If it is, the promotion server system then selects a secondary item in the baby products category, for example, baby food, generates an electronic coupon based on the promotional data linked to the promotional item in the database, and transmits the electronic coupon to the client system.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the client system 110 is a personal computer running browser software that connects to web servers via the Internet or a similar network. Preferably, a book of electronic coupons is transferred to the client system in the form of an electronic token which is stored in memory at the client system. The electronic token can be detected by any subsequent web server to which that client system connects. If the client system attempts to initiate a fransaction with a particular web server, the web server detects the electronic token that includes the elecfronic coupon and uses the electronic coupon to enable or modify the transaction. In this embodiment, when the client system receives the electronic coupon, the user can be alerted to the presence of the elecfronic coupon by another browser window or a Java-based window that identifies all the elecfronic coupons in the elecfronic coupon book and the nature of the benefit provided, and provides links to the various web sites where the electromc coupons can be redeemed. Alternatively, the client system can connect to a web server which displays the contents of the electronic coupon book in the form of a web page which describes the nature of the electronic coupon benefit and a link to the web page where the elecfronic coupon can be redeemed. In yet another embodiment of the invention, when the client system receives the electronic coupon or coupon book, the client system may be programmed to automatically provide the electronic coupon or coupon book to a peripheral printing device such that the user has automatic access to hard-copy versions of the coupons.

As one having ordinary skill in the art will appreciate, the client system will typically be operated or otherwise controlled by a consumer or a customer (in business to business transactions) and the server system or systems will be operated or otherwise controlled by an organization or an agent of an organization authorized to enter into and complete the fransaction. One of ordinary skill in the art will also appreciate that the electronic coupons can include an expiration date or a window of dates when the electronic coupon is valid or effective.

In another embodiment of the invention, electronic tokens are transferred to, or retrieved from, a client system by a frame spawned within a primary website by JavaScript or other similar software code. This embodiment is compatible with security features included with some web browsers that limit a website to depositing and retrieving electronic tokens only for itself. For example, a user visiting an e-tail website generally receives an elecfronic token from that site, but a user cannot receive an electronic token from a site on behalf of another site. This is because an electronic token deposited by a particular website is encoded with a signature corresponding to that website, and the browser utilizes that signature to limit elecfronic token transfers to only the website that created the electronic token. However, a frame spawned within the e-tail website can deposit an electronic token on the client system, and a similar frame spawned within another website can subsequently read that elecfronic token, as long as the frames spawned on different websites look the same (i.e., have the same signature) to the browser running on the client system. As with the other embodiments described herein, the electronic token may contain all of the necessary coupon information, including the complete coupon data structure necessary for benefits identification, validation and authentication, or the electronic token may contain only data identifying the client, so that the electronic token functions as a pointer to a database on the promotion server. If the elecfronic token contains the complete data structure, the script will include the code necessary to authenticate and validate the coupon. The utility of this embodiment lies in the fact that the issuer and the redeemer of the coupon need not be the same entity. For example, a producer of goods may desire to have coupons distributed to potential purchasers, but may not desire to conduct the elecfronic commerce necessary to redeem the coupons. In this case, the producer of goods would distribute the JavaScript (or other similar script) for generating coupon-distributing website frames to highly-trafficked websites. The producer of goods would also provide the frame-generating script to point-of-sale product retailers so that the coupons could be redeemed where the product is sold.

While the invention has been described as including one e-tail server system that accesses a promotion server system, a plurality of e-tail server systems may be coupled to the promotion server system in order to distribute electronic coupons to clients of the e-tail server systems. Such a configuration is illustrated in Fig. 4. In this system 300, in addition to the e-tail server system 120, a second e-tail server system 140 is coupleable to the promotion server system 130 over communications network 160 for the purpose of defining promotional items in the manner described above. Accordingly, the client system 110 can access either e-tail server system 120 or e-tail server system 140 for the purpose of carrying out a purchase transaction over the communications network 160 and either or both of the e-tail server systems can access the promotion server system 130. It will be understood that the promotion server system can be accessed through any number of e-tail server systems. In another embodiment, the inventory of promotional items and the associated promotional data and promotional linking code are stored in a database server system on the e-tail server system. Such a configuration is shown at 400 in FIG. 5. In this embodiment, e-tail server system 150 is coupleable to client 110 over communications network 160. E-tail server system 150 includes a database server system 152 which, as described above, includes an inventory of categorized promotional items, promotional data defining elecfronic coupons and promotional linking code for linking the promotional items to the promotional data.

In this embodiment, the e-tail server system 150 defines promotions locally within database server system 152. The client system 110 establishes a connection with e-tail server system 150 over the communications network 160 for the purpose of initiating a purchase transaction. After the client system 110 selects items to purchase and consummates the purchase transaction, the e-tail server system searches its database server system 152 to determine if the purchased item is a promotional item. If so, the promotion server system selects a secondary item in the same category as the purchased item. An electronic coupon for the secondary item, as defined by the promotional data linked to the promotional item by the promotional linking code, is generated and transmitted to the client system 110 by the e-tail server system 150 over the communications network 160.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a system for distributing electronic coupons over a network after the consummation of a purchase transaction. The elecfronic coupons distributed depend upon the client's purchasing history. When the client purchases an item from an e-tail server system during a connection with the e-tail server system, the e-tail server system transmits information about the purchased item to a promotion server system, which transmits an elecfronic coupon for an item that is related to the purchased item to the client system.

The invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit or essential characteristics thereof. The present embodiments are therefore to be considered in respects as illustrative and not restrictive, the scope of the invention being indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description, and all changes which come within the meaning and range of the equivalency of the claims are therefore intended to be embraced therein.

Claims

CLAIMSWhat is claimed is:
1. A method of distributing an elecfronic coupon over a communications network, the method comprising the steps of:
A. establishing a connection over said communications network between a client system and an e-tail server system, said e-tail server system including items for sale, said items for sale being classified into at least one of a plurality of item categories;
B. said client system consummating a purchase transaction by purchasing an item from said e-tail server system, said purchased item being classified in a particular item category;
C. said e-tail server transmitting information about said purchased item to a promotion server system; and
D. said promotion server system transmitting said elecfronic coupon to said client system, said electromc coupon being redeemable for a secondary item that is classified in said particular item category.
2. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 1 wherein said communications network is the internet.
3. The method of distributing elecfronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 2, wherein, prior to step D, said promotion server system searches a database of promotional items within said particular item category to determine if said purchased item is a promotional item.
4. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 3, wherein, prior to step D and after searching said database, said promotion server generates said electronic coupon for said secondary item based on promotional data linked to said promotional item.
5. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 2 wherein said client system initiates a subsequent purchase fransaction during a subsequent connection and redeems said elecfromc coupon upon consummating a subsequent purchase fransaction in which said promotional item is purchased.
6. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 2 wherein said electronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted to said client system directly from said promotion server system over said communications network.
7. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 2 wherein said electronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted from said promotion server system to said e-tail server system over said communications network, and from said e-tail server system to said client system over said communications network.
8. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 2 wherein said client system is connected to said network by a wired connection.
9. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 8 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
10. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 2 wherein said client system is connected to said network by a wireless connection.
11. The method of distributing electromc coupons over a network in accordance with claim 10 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
12. A system for distributing electronic coupons over a communications network comprising: an e-tail server system having a computer processor and associated memory, said e- tail server system including items for sale; a promotion server system having a computer processor and associated memory, said promotion server system including a database of promotional items linked to promotional data that define electronic coupons; and a client system having a computer processor and associated memory, said client system being selectively coupleable to said e-tail server system over said communications network; wherein said client system establishes a connection to said e-tail server system to conduct a purchase transaction in which said client system purchases an item from said e- tail server system; said e-tail server system transmits information about said purchased item to said promotion server system; and said promotion server system transmits an electronic coupon to said client system, said electromc coupon being redeemable for an item that is related to said purchased item.
13. The system for distributing elecfronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 12 wherein said communications network is the internet.
14. The system for distributing electronic coupons over a commumcations network according to claim 13 wherein said promotion server system further includes a searching device for searching said database to determine if said purchased item is a promotional item in said item category and electronic coupon generating means for generating said electronic coupon based on said promotional data linked to said promotional item.
15. The system for distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 13 wherein said client system initiates a subsequent purchase fransaction by selecting said related item and redeems said electronic coupon upon consummating said subsequent purchase transaction.
16. The system for distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 13 wherein said electronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted to said client system directly from said promotion server system over said communications network.
17. The system for distributing elecfronic coupons over a commumcations network according to claim 13 wherein said elecfronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted from said promotion server system to said e-tail server system over said communications network, and from said e-tail server system to said client system over said communications network.
18. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 13 wherein said client system is connected to said network by a wired connection.
19. The system of distributing electronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 18 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
20. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 13 wherein said chent system is connected to said network by a wireless connection.
21. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 20 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
22. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 13 wherein said promotion server system is included in said e-tail server system.
23. A system for distributing elecfronic coupons over a communications network comprising: an e-tail server system having a computer processor and associated memory, said e- tail server system including items for sale; a promotion server system having a computer processor and associated memory, said promotion server system including a database of promotional items linked to promotional data that define electronic coupons; and a client system having a computer processor and associated memory, said client system being selectively coupleable to said e-tail server system over said commumcations network; wherein said client system establishes a connection to said e-tail server system to conduct a purchase fransaction in which said client system purchases an item from said e- tail server system, said purchased item being classified in an item category; and said e-tail server system transmits category information about said purchased item to said promotion server system; said promotion server system including a searching device for searching said database to determine if said purchased item is a promotional item in said item category and electronic coupon generating means for generating said electronic coupon based on said promotional data linked to said promotional item and providing, to said client system, said electronic coupon for a secondary item in said product category.
24. The system for distributing electronic coupons over a commumcations network according to claim 23 wherein said communications network is the internet.
25. The system for distributing elecfronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 24 wherein said electronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is fransmitted to said chent system directly from said promotion server system over said communications network.
26. The system for distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 24 wherein said electronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted from said promotion server system to said e-tail server system over said communications network, and from said e-tail server system to said client system over said communications network.
27. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 24 wherein said client system is connected to said network by a wired connection.
28. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 27 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
29. The system of distributing electronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 24 wherein said client system is connected to said network by a wireless connection.
30. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 29 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
31. The system of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 24 wherein said promotion server system is included in said e-tail server system.
32. A method of distributing elecfronic coupons over a communications network, the method comprising the steps of:
A. establishing a connection over said network between a client system and an e-tail server system, said e-tail server system including items for sale;
B. said client system consummating a purchase transaction by purchasing an item from said e-tail server system;
C. said e-tail server system transmitting information about said purchased item to a promotion server system; and
D. said promotion server system transmitting an electronic coupon to said client system, said electromc coupon being redeemable for a secondary item that is related to said purchased item.
33. The method of distributing elecfromc coupons over a communications network according to claim 32 wherein said communications network is the internet.
34. The method of distributing elecfronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 33, wherein, prior to step D, said promotion server system searches a database of promotional items to determine if said purchased item is a promotional item.
35. The method of distributing electromc coupons over a communications network according to claim 34, wherein, prior to step D and after searching said database, said promotion server generates said electronic coupon for said secondary item based on promotional data linked to said promotional item.
36. The method of distributing elecfronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 33 wherein said elecfronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is fransmitted to said client system directly from said promotion server system over said communications network.
37. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a communications network according to claim 33 wherein said elecfronic coupon is provided to said client system in the form of screen display data that is transmitted from said promotion server system to said e-tail server system over said communications network, and from said e-tail server system to said client system over said communications network.
38. The method of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 33 wherein said client system is connected to said network by a wired connection.
39. The method of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 38 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
40. The method of distributing elecfronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 33 wherein said client system is connected to said network by a wireless connection.
41. The method of distributing electronic coupons over a network in accordance with claim 40 wherein said client system is selected from the group consisting of a personal computer, an interactive television system, a personal digital assistant and a cellular telephone.
PCT/US2001/022670 2001-07-19 2001-07-19 Method of and system for distributing electronic coupons over a network after the consummation of a purchase transaction based on a client's purchase history WO2003009197A1 (en)

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