US 20030023567 A1 Abstract A computer system and method for dynamic pricing is described. The system includes at least one dynamic calculator, which performs calculations based upon conditional rules.
Claims(37) 1. A computer system for dynamic pricing comprising:
at least one static calculator for making price calculations that are not conditional; and at least one dynamic calculator for making price calculations based upon conditional rules. 2. The computer system of 3. The computer system of 4. The computer system of 5. The computer system of 6. The computer system of 7. The computer system of 8. The computer system of 9. The computer system of the at least one dynamic calculator further comprises a qualifier and a discount calculator.
10. The computer system of 11. The computer system of 12. The computer system of 13. The computer system of 14. The computer system of 15. The computer system of 16. The computer system of 17. The computer system of 18. The computer system of 19. The computer system of 20. A system for dynamic pricing comprising:
at least one static calculator for making price calculations that are not conditional; at least one dynamic calculator for making price calculations based upon conditional rules, wherein the dynamic calculator further comprises a qualifier and a discount calculator. 21. A system for dynamic pricing comprising:
at least one static calculator for making price calculations that are not conditional; and at least one dynamic calculator for making price calculations based upon conditional rules, wherein the at least one static calculator comprises at least one pre-calculator that determines an initial price. 22. A system for dynamic pricing comprising:
at least one static calculator for making price calculations that are not conditional; and at least one dynamic calculator for making price calculations based upon conditional rules, wherein the at least one static calculator comprises at least one post-processing calculator that performs final adjustments to a price based upon a price generation algorithm. 23. A system for dynamic pricing comprising:
at least one static calculator for making price calculations that are not conditional; and at least one dynamic calculator for making price calculations based upon conditional rules, wherein the static calculators further comprise a pre-calculator that determines an initial price and a post-processing calculator that adjusts a determined price according to a price generation algorithm; and the at least one dynamic calculator further comprises a qualifier and a discount calculator. 24. A computer system for dynamic pricing comprising:
a module for setting an initial price on at least one item; and at least one dynamic calculator for modifying the initial price on the at least one item based upon conditional rules. 25. A method of performing dynamic pricing on at least one item comprising the steps of:
setting an initial price on the at least one item; performing one of more dynamic price calculations on the at least one item based upon one or more conditional rules, wherein these two pricing steps yield price information for the at least one item. 26. A method of performing dynamic pricing on at least one item comprising the steps of:
performing one or more static price calculations on the at least one item that are not conditional; and performing one or more dynamic price calculations on the at least one item based upon one or more conditional rules, wherein these two price calculation steps yield price information for the at least one item. 27. The method of 28. The method of 29. The method of 30. The method of 31. A method of allowing a user to create rules for dynamic pricing comprising the steps of:
providing at least one static calculator for making price calculations that are not conditional; providing at least one dynamic calculator for making price calculations based upon conditional rules; and providing a user interface that allows a user to input at least one conditional rule. 32. The method of 33. The method of 34. A computer program product, residing on a computer-readable medium, for dynamic pricing, the computer program product comprising instructions for causing a computer to:
set an initial price on at least one item; and perform dynamic price calculations on the at least one item, wherein these instructions yield price information for the at least one item. 35. The computer program product of 36. The computer program product of 37. A computer program product, residing on a computer-readable medium, for dynamic pricing, the computer program product comprising instructions for causing a computer to:
perform static price calculations on at least one item that are not conditional; and perform dynamic price calculations on the at least one item based upon conditional rules, wherein these instructions yield price information for the at least one item. Description [0001] This invention relates to computer systems and, more particularly, to computer systems for generating dynamic pricing information. [0002] Various computer pricing mechanisms have been available to date. Typically, these have used a static pricing scheme such as a look-up table of pre-priced items. In such a scheme, each item in a store would have a price and a percentage discount stored in the look-up table. If a customer purchased an item, the system would determine the price of the particular item and whether a discount is to be applied to that item, and calculate a price. If the price of the item changed, or if the discount to the item changed, the look-up table would have to be updated. This would be required for every item on the list. [0003] According to the present invention, a method and system for dynamic pricing is described. Dynamic pricing is accomplished through the use of at least one dynamic calculator, which performs calculations based upon conditional rules. [0004] In preferred embodiments, the system may include at least one static calculator. Static calculators can include pre-calculators and/or post-processing calculators. Pre-calculators determine an initial price, such as a list price or a sale price. Alternatively, a module may be used to set an initial price. Post-processing calculators make final adjustments based on a price generation algorithm, such as rounding the price to the nearest $0.99. [0005] Between the pre- and post-calculators is at least one dynamic calculator that uses rules-based methodology to dynamically determine discounts to the initial price determined by the pre-calculators. Each dynamic calculator is made up of a qualifier and a discount calculator. The qualifier applies rules to determine if an item is qualified to receive a discount. The rules for qualification generally comprise a condition that must be satisfied. Rules sometimes also include a target upon which to apply the discount. If an item is determined to be qualified to receive a discount, the discount calculator applies it to the price. [0006]FIG. 1 is a block diagram of components of the pricing system according to an embodiment of the invention; [0007]FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a pricing engine according to an embodiment of the invention; [0008]FIG. 3 is a block diagram of a pre-calculator operation according to an embodiment of the invention; [0009]FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a post-processing calculator operation according to an embodiment of the invention; [0010]FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a discount calculator operation according to an embodiment of the invention; and [0011]FIG. 6 is a diagram of steps performed during a qualifier operation according to an embodiment of the invention. [0012] As shown in FIG. 1, a computer system for customized pricing [0013] When the customer decides to shop on the Internet, he accesses a web site on a browser [0014]FIG. 2 provides an overview of the pricing engines. A preferred embodiment of the system includes four pricing engines, but any number of engines may be provided. In this particular embodiment (not shown), there is an “items” engine that calculates a price for a particular item, a “shipping” engine that calculates the shipping price of a particular item, a “tax” engine that calculates the applicable tax for a particular item, and an “order engine” that determines the price for all items in the order as well as any shipping costs and applicable taxes. Each separate pricing engine can apply separate discounts to the order. The particular engines included in the system and the determination of which engines will be consulted during a transaction are determined by the website designer. For example, the items engine may display dynamically discounted prices to a customer as the customer browses the site, before the customer has indicated a desire to purchase anything. [0015] Each pricing engine is generally made up of a series of calculators that perform different functions in calculating the price. Price information (PI), which will ultimately provide the price output from the pricing engine, begins in the engine as a blank slate. As it interacts with each system calculator, it includes the most recent price calculation. [0016] In a preferred embodiment, there are three types of calculators. As depicted in FIGS. 2 and 3, pre-calculators [0017] The second series of calculators, discount calculators [0018] Finally, as depicted in FIGS. 2 and 4, post-processor calculators [0019] In one embodiment, this final Price Information (PI) includes the price of the order, the price breakdown of all items in the order including any shipping and tax costs, and the price calculation history that details everything that happened to the price as it was adjusted by the various calculators. This pricing metadata would thus include calculations made to the price and the rules used to calculate the price. As such, it can be very useful if a customer subsequently changes the order and a new price must be recompiled. Assuming the rules still exist, they may simply be re-run to determine the new price. If, however, any of the rules had changed in the interim (e.g., because of the later date), the revised rules would be run. Some or all of the Price Information typically would be sent to the user, and some or all of the Price Information typically is stored by the pricing engine or the server for later use. [0020] In other embodiments, the final Price Information (PI) may be different depending on the pricing engine involved and the needs of the particular application. For example, for the “items” pricing engine, the final Price Information may only include the price of an item purchased as well as the price calculation history for that single item. [0021] The operation of the pricing engine will be described generally with respect to FIG. 2. Aspects of a Price Environment (PE) [0022] Once in the pricing engine, the Price Environment (PE) is sent with the blank Price Information (PI) to the pre-calculators [0023] Details of the operation of the discount calculators [0024] The rules determine the situations when it is appropriate to allow the discount calculator to perform a calculation. For example, the rule may require a ten percent discount to be applied to blue shirts when the customer has purchased more than four items. Thus, when the order “qualifies” for the discount by including five items, the discount is applied to the blue shirts. As is evident, this rule has two parts, a condition and a target. If both parts are present in the rule, both must be satisfied for the rule to apply. The condition is what is required for the discount to be applied. Here, the condition is satisfied if the customer purchases five or more items. The target is the particular item or items that will be discounted. Here, the target is blue shirts. In this instance, both the condition and the target are satisfied, and the ten percent discount can be applied in the discount calculator. Alternatively, a rule may only have a condition, and not a target. For example, if an order has more than four items, discount everything ten percent. [0025] In one embodiment, the particular rules are input by a site designer in a pricing model description language via a user interface. Rules-based pricing permits many advantages. It allows for tremendous flexibility in determining what should be discounted and what the discount should be. It can determine whether every user gets a discount (e.g., a ten percent discount on red items) or if only certain users get a selective discount if they perform a specific task (e.g., a ten percent discount if the order has more than four items). Rules may also implement personal coupons or promotions that are targeted to the customer, and may incorporate specific dates upon which a discount is to be applied. [0026] Rules also allow for categorical discounting. They are not necessarily tied to the particular items, but also can be based upon metadata about the items (e.g., the color of the item). A rules-based system allows a rule to be applied to all products sold on the web site. For example, if a rule allows discounting of red items on Valentine's Day, it will be applied to all red items sold on the site. This avoids a need to price each item individually, with discounts to items being made item by item. This categorical discounting may even be applied to items that are added to the site in the future. [0027] Turning back to the operation of the system, the steps of the qualifier operation are described in more detail in FIG. 6. The qualifier operation [0028] The rule is then evaluated to determine whether the Price Environment meets the rule condition [0029] Returning to FIG. 5, when the set of items to be discounted are input to the discount calculators [0030] While there have been shown and described examples of the present invention, it will be readily apparent to those skilled in the art that various changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims. The preferred embodiments have been described in terms of a web-based system, but the invention is equally applicable to a wireless, phone-based, or any other network-based system. It can even be used in retail stores. [0031] Moreover, there may be different pricing engines applied to an order, and within each pricing engine there may be different calculators. For example, it is not necessary that the static and dynamic operations be performed on separate calculators. A single calculator may be capable of both static and dynamic calculations. Also, it is not necessary to include pre-calculators to set the initial price. A module having a fixed price operation could be used to set the blank Price Information to an initial price, and then dynamic calculators could modify that price as appropriate. In addition, the Price Environment may include different information, as might the Price Information. Accordingly, the invention is limited only by the following claims and equivalents thereto. Referenced by
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