US 20060149653 A1
Internet-based commercial network connects multiple qualified participant buyers and sellers. Items are made available for defined periods of time, referred to as an event (139). Event terms and conditions include item types, price, quantity, volume or units, discount, shipping terms (138). Reiterative offer and counteroffers permit negotiation of terms for an event. Participants may view anonymous competitive quotes for comparison and analysis. Pooled purchases and auctions are envisioned. Participants may create web presences and are subject to restrictions on access (141) and purchase (142) authority. Central system maintains participant data.
1. A method of computer assisted procurement of products comprising:
(a) providing an internet website for listing products sought to be purchased by a purchaser,
(b) establishing an event at which qualified sellers may visit the website to offer terms for the sale of the products to the purchaser by:
(i) making the website available for the posting of quotes during an identified time period, and
(ii) inviting qualified sellers to offer terms of sale by posting those terms of sale on the website during the identified time period.
2. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
3. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
4. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
providing on the website a location for indicating an offer of price for each listed product, and
providing on the website a further location for indicating an offer of at least one term other than price by any qualified seller participating in the event.
5. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
6. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
7. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
(c) affording the purchaser the ability to designate accepted quotes for a period of time after the close of the event, including:
(i) affording the purchaser the ability to designate selected winning quotes item by item, and
(ii) affording the purchaser the ability to designate winning quotes by designating acceptance of a totality of quotes from a particular seller.
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9. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
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24. The method of computer assisted procurement according to
25. The method according to
(i) determining the existence of a cookie on a user's computer,
(ii) determining from the user's cookie the user's permitted level of access; and
(iii) permitting the user to an event at the level of access determined.
26. The method according to
27. The method according to
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31. A method of computer assisted procurement of products sought to be purchased by a purchaser comprising:
(a) providing an internet website,
(b) establishing classifications of users entitling users to varying degrees of access to information and activities available through the website,
(c) providing a publicly available registration page at the website,
(d) issuing at least one of a login number, login word, and password at a user request on the registration page,
(e) using the at least one number or word and password of a user at a login by the user to verify the user's identity and status,
(f) upon successful verification of the user's identity and status, placing a cookie on the user's computer, the cookie comprising an identification of the user, and
(g) thereafter based on the information in the user's cookie,
(i) determining the user's classification, and
(ii) affording the user access to information and activities on the website to a degree consistent with that user's classification.
32. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
33. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
34. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
35. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
36. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
(i) providing a homepage at the website for each user classified as a responding buyer or seller and limiting access to that homepage to that responding buyer or seller and to users classified as administrators,
(i) providing a program details page at the website with competitive quote information from each user classified as a responding buyer or seller and without identification of the users classified as responding buyer or seller, and permitting access to the program details page by users classified as responding buyer or seller and users classified as administrator.
37. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
identification of all items being offered for purchase,
item price quotes, and
38. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
39. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
40. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
41. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
42. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
43. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
retrieving information concerning an event and determining whether the event has been disabled,
if the event has not been disabled, determining whether a user seeking access to the event has been disabled, and
if the user has not been disabled, determining if the user has responded to an invitation to the event, and
if the user has responded to an invitation to the event, affording the user access to a page at which the user can enter a quote.
44. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
45. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
46. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
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53. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
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57. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
58. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
59. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
60. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
61. The method of computer assisted procurement of products according to
62. The method according to
63. The method according to
64. A method of computer assisted procurement of products sought to be purchased comprising:
(a) providing an internet website,
(b) affording a participating buyer the ability to list on a page at the website a list of items requiring recurrent replenishment,
(c) qualifying participating sellers to quote on items in the list of items,
(d) affording qualified participating sellers the ability to award one or more sales to one of said qualified participating sellers based on that seller's quote on an item or items on the list, and
(e) enabling the qualified participating sellers to quote on a recurring basis on items on the list absent the need for requalification.
65. The method according to
66. The method according to
67. A method of computer assisted sales or procurement comprising:
(a) providing an internet website for listing products to be sold or to be purchased,
(b) establishing an event at which qualified buyers or sellers may visit the website to quote terms for the purchase or sale of the products listed, by:
(i) malting the website available for the posting of quotes during an identified time period, and
(ii) inviting qualified buyers or sellers to offer terms of purchase or sale by posting those terms on the website during the identified time period.
68. A method of negotiated contract implementation comprising:
(a) providing an internet website for facilitating negotiation between a first party seeking a contract proposal and at least one second party responding with a proposal,
(b) providing at least one page at the website adapted to permit the first party to create an event by placing a contract out for bid,
(c) providing at least one page at the website adapted to permit the at least one second party to submit a proposal, and
(d) providing at least one further page facilitating analysis by the first party of each proposal from the at least one second party.
69. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
70. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
71. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
72. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
73. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
(i) enabling the buyer to identify items to be purchased,
(ii) setting an event time and duration at the buyer's instructions, and
(iii) identifying at least one of contract begin date, contract duration, estimated contract volume, and discount and future rates of money at the buyer's request.
74. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
75. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
76. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
77. The method of negotiated contract implementation comprising
(i) proposing cost, and
(ii) proposing at least one of annual dollar volume, proposal duration, payment terms, annual seasonal distribution and movement.
78. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
(iii) offering additional funding.
79. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
80. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
81. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
82. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
83. The method of negotiated contract implementation according to
84. A method of computer assisted competitive product procurement comprising:
(a) providing an internet website for listing branded products for which proposals for sales are sought by a buyer,
(b) listing for the buyer characteristics of a proposed program for each branded product,
(c) affording suppliers of the branded products access to the website to post terms of a proposed sale to the buyer of each branded product in response to the buyer's proposed programs, and
(d) displaying for the buyer a comparison of the suppliers' responsive proposed sale terms.
85. A method of computer assisted competitive product procurement according to
86. A method of computer assisted competitive product procurement according to
(e) displaying a gross margin calculated on the basis of the terms of said each proposed sale by a supplier to the buyer of each branded product for comparison with said buyer's proposed gross margin on retail sales.
87. A method of computer assisted competitive product procurement according to
88. A method of computer assisted competitive product procurement according to
89. A method of computer assisted competitive product procurement according to
90. A system for computer assisted procurement of products including:
(a) a web server,
(b) programming to:
(i) produce an internet website for listing products sought to be purchased by a purchaser;
(iii) establish an event at which qualified sellers may visit the website to offer terms for the sale of the products to the purchaser, and
(iv) make the website available for the posting of offers during an identified time period for the event.
91. The Computer programming for computer assisted sales or procurement including:
(a) website programming establishing an interactive website having:
(ii) first web page programming responsive to a first user establishing at least one event for buying and selling a plurality of items,
(iii) second web page programming responsive to input by a plurality of second users quoting proposed terms of purchase and sale of one or more of the identified items to present said terms on the one or more pages of interactive website; and
(iv) third web page programming presenting said second users' proposed terms for review by the first user and responsive to inputs from the first user to communicate selection and award to at least one of the second users.
92. The programming according
93. The programming according
(iv) fourth web page programming responsive to the selection and award, by the first user to enable the at least one second user to accept the selection and award.
Priority is claimed from U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/239,141, for subject matter common to that contained herein.
This invention relates to a system, software and method for computerized procurement, sales, or contract formation using a computer network, and more particularly to a system, software and method using the internet to establish multi-item procurement, sale or contracting events.
For any product that can be described and priced per item, per weight or by how it is packaged, procurement has often been inefficient and time consuming for purchasers and sellers alike. This applies to retail grocery and healthcare businesses and any that regularly purchase a variety of items from various sources. Additionally, past procurement methods have not been certain to bring purchasers the best purchase terms available, or to assure sellers a reasonable opportunity to fairly compete.
Typically, in a retail business, sellers would need to schedule a meeting with a purchasing agent of a large retailer, travel to the scheduled meeting, and make offers on products with little or no knowledge of what competitive offer had been or would be made by other sellers. This practice has been inefficient, time consuming and not competitive. Sellers have been unable to react to competitive offers and purchasers have been denied the benefit of such reactive pricing.
A number of websites on the worldwide web offer auctions and reverse auctions. These permit buyers or sellers to make offers or “quote” on various posted items. The quoting often is set to close at a particular time, and a feature has been offered whereby quoting may be extended if a quote is received within an extension threshold time approaching the scheduled close.
These sites are not tailored to a particular business's procurement practices, however. They do not afford the opportunity for a business purchaser to schedule an event among recognized, qualified business suppliers, during which many items required by the business purchaser are posted by that purchaser, and suppliers are unable to quote against one another, not just on price, but on other terms important to both the selling and purchasing parties. Neither do prior sites allow for confirming a purchasing or selling activity to the business practices of the relevant business. In addition prior sites have not allowed for actual negotiation of contract terms of a negotiated contract.
In accordance with this invention, a system, software and method for computer-assisted procurement or sales of products are provided in which an internet website allows for the listing of a multiplicity of products to be sold or purchased by a seller or a purchaser. An “event” is established at which qualified buyers or sellers can visit the website to offer terms for the sale or purchase of the products listed there. The establishment of such an event includes making the website available for the posting of offers (“quotes”) during an identified time period. In a purchasing event, qualified sellers are invited to offer terms of sale by posting those terms at the website in association with the items sought to be purchased, and doing so during the identified time period for the event. In a selling event buyers are similarly invited to the website to offer to purchase items listed there. In a negotiated event, negotiable purchase contract terms are posted for negotiation between buyer and seller. In a competitive branded product event, similar products of differing brands may be sought by a buyer, and sellers' proposals in response are objectively compared despite differing proposed terms.
Buying and Selling Events
The system by which the invention operates includes one or more servers, the internet-connected computers of buyers and sellers, the internet equipped computer of the company that supports the system and maintains the website and the programming of each that establishes the interactions of the buyers, sellers and company with the webiste and each other.
During the course of the purchasing event, software by which the system operates provides that offers by each qualified seller participating in the event are made known on the website to the other participating qualified sellers. The terms offered by the qualified sellers may be not just price, but such further important considerations as quantity discounts, contributed advertising dollars, shipping terms, payment terms, quality, scheduling of deliveries, and such other terms and conditions as may be commonly a part of a purchase contract in the particular business or industry.
The website can offer the qualified sellers the opportunity to quote on each item listed. It is able to provide for each seller to convey the additional, non-price terms with respect to each product listed or with respect to the entirety of the products sought to be purchased. In addition, the website shows a total of the prices offered by each seller and can indicate by a reduction the value of the non-price terms offer by a seller. The purchaser can buy from a qualified seller with respect to individual items or can purchase from a single seller the entirety of the items posted.
Typically, the event is scheduled in advance for a fixed period of time, but if a quote by a seller is made within the extension threshold near to the close of the event, the event is extended to allow active participants placing quotes to respond. Although the examples given here relate primarily to a purchasing event (e.g. a reverse auction), the event may also be a selling event (a traditional auction).
Purchasing events may be replenishment events. These are regularly scheduled events at which previously approved sellers quote on items designated by the purchaser from a list of regularly purchased items.
Purchasing events may also be price list events. These are replenishment events of a different kind. A list of regularly purchased products is maintained open for quotes by approved sellers. Buyers, then, have the opportunity to purchase at what they perceive as the best quote for a particular item, as needed.
Further, purchasing events may be spot buys. This event is opened to cover a pressing need for a particular item or items. That may arise from a shortage occurring because, for example, a retailer-buyer has run a sale on the particular item, because the retailer—seller wishes to extend a particularly successful promotion, or because a retailer-buyer has scheduled an ad for a particular item. The immediate need may be heightened by the buyer's inability to purchase the desired item from the buyer's usual suppliers. The spot buy event enables a spur of the moment buy to cover a real or anticipated shortage.
Where the event is a purchasing event, the event may be of several kinds. One is a market price event where the products sought to be purchased have a “going price” against which the sellers quote. In this kind of event, the quote may be plus or minus some variance from the market price. In that case, the system is able to convert this to a total price mathematically and display that to the purchaser. The second kind of event does not have a market price with respect to the items sought to be purchased, but rather the sellers quote the actual price intended on an item by item basis. In a preferred embodiment the system also provides certain improvements over the reverse auction that assists a buyer in the procurement of general merchandise items, large capital items or branded products. One such improvement aids the purchaser in evaluating the cost of money over time. Another improvement helps level the decision making process when purchasing similar products that are different brands.
The system is robust in the sense that it can accommodate variance in the unit of measure posted by a purchaser and the unit of measure on which a quote is made. For example, the desired purchase may be posted in cases and the responsive quote may be in pounds. The system can be equipped with conversion factors that will accommodate this, making the calculation of the total value of the quote so that the purchaser can readily compare quotes.
In the purchasing event, the quotes of each seller may be made known to the other sellers participating in the event, while the identities are not. Often, as with retail groceries, the events may be constrained to related foodstuffs or goods, e.g. meat, produce, paper products.
In a particular embodiment, the purchaser is able to increase or decrease the volume of goods being sought manually or have the system raise the volume base upon certain price points that are configured before the event is run by the purchaser. The automated feature is called proxy volumes. This may result, for example, from a seller having offered an attractive volume discount as a non-price term. In response to an increase or decrease in volume being sought by the purchaser, an extension of the event is provided to give sellers an opportunity to respond.
Participating sellers may increase their price offers or quote within a specified period of time as well as decrease them. This is to give inexperienced sellers the reassurance that it is possible to correct an error in pricing.
The integrity of the scheduled event is maintained by validation processes. Buyers and sellers must register and login at the website. A publicly available registration page or pages is afforded. There the registrant acquires the login number (or word) and password. At the login, the registrant enters his or her login number and password at a login page. These are checked for validity, and if valid, the registrant's account is cross-checked against a list of disabled accounts. If the account has not been disabled, a cookie is placed on the registrant's machine. With the cookie a file is provided on the registrant's machine. The file provided contains the classification of the registrant, i.e. buyer, seller or power buyer, qualifications for particular events and other information particular to the registrant. The cookie identifies the registrant by a code unique to that registrant, and it also identifies the time zone of the registrant. Thereafter, all times will be shown to the registrant in the applicable time for that registrant's time zone.
From this point, the registrant can move to the registrant's home page. Based upon the role of the registrant, there are three different home pages. If the registrant is an “administrator” of the system (e.g. one employed by the company operating the system) then that registrant gets a listing of events that the registrant is administering. If the registrant is a “power buyer” of the system then that registrant is empowered to administer (or “host”) his or her own events and gets a listing of events that they are hosting. If the registrant is a buyer or seller in the system (i.e. participants that do not administer events) then that registrant gets a listing of events that they may participate in. Only an administrator from the administrator's home page can update any user or company profile, add or update products or product categories. Administrators can also update or create events, see events that have not yet run, see events that are pending award, see events that have not yet been scheduled, see events for contracts that are coming due and see a full calendar of events to be run on the system. From their home pages power buyers have only the ability to update events that they created or create events for their companies, see their events that have not yet run, see their events that are pending award, see their events that have not yet been scheduled, see their events for contracts that are coming due, and see a full calendar of events that are associated with their company. From their home page buyers and sellers have access to events in which they have been invited to participate or which are being administered for them by an administrator.
The participation in an event by a buyer or seller is initiated by either an administrator or power buyer when creating an event from an event setup page. From this page the user can send invitations to prospective participants, send “thank you for participation” messages or “thank you and award notification” via email or fax. Once an invitation is sent to prospective participants, they can either click on a link in the email or logon to the website and from their home pages enter the program details page for that event. The program details page summarizes all details related to the event and allows a participant to accept or decline participation in the event. The details will include: all items and item descriptions, additional funds and/or terms, samples, and all event options chosen by the host purchaser of the event. If one accepts, then one will continue to have access to the event. If one declines the event, then the event will be removed from one's home page.
With each new page that a registrant moves to, two types of authentication take place. First, user authentication verifies that the current user is logged in and validated. Second, event participant authentication verifies that the current user is a valid event participant and that he or she has the necessary permissions to the various event pages such as “quote view page,” “quote/note pages,” or “funds/terms pages.” These verifications are made checking the content of the cookie left during login. If no cookie exists, the user is entitled only to publicly accessible pages of the website. These include the homepage, registration page and login page.
There are several varying degrees of access login depending on the role(s) associated with the user. In addition to the buyers, sellers, power buyers and administrators employed by the company that maintains the system and provides the website, these include shareholders of the company and brokers empowered to submit quotes for others. During user authentication, if the user has logged in previously and has a cookie, the users id (GUID) and time zone is determined. If the session is still open, i.e. timeout has not occurred, then the user is allowed access to any requested page for which that user is qualified based upon the user's GUID.
Event authentication ensues if the user requests access to an event. Information concerning the event is retrieved, and it is determined whether the event has been disabled, i.e. cancelled or postponed. If not, it is determined whether the user is authorized for the event. If the user has been authorized, it is determined whether the user has been disabled, and if that is not the case, whether the user has accepted an invitation to the event (RSVP'd). User disablement may occur by virtue of a user failing to offer a quote over a determined period or if the user's quote is not within a specified amount above or below the then-best quote (“a tolerance”). If a user has RSVP'd, the quote view page is displayed to the user who may then submit a quote. The quote view page shown to a qualified user lists the items that the buyer seeks to purchase. Terms required by the buyer may be posted. In the case of a market price type of event, the market price is given. Shipping locations may also appear if the buyer desires quotes to be delivered pricing
The internal administrator, mentioned above, is permitted access to all pages and all events. On the other hand, a power buyer may change any detail of the particular event for which he or she is responsible. By comparison, buyers for whom a reverse auction event is administered by an administrator are permitted only to see events for which they are registered. Like power buyers, these buyers have the ability to determine which participants will be allowed to make offers. They can bring up a list of sellers who have RSVP'd and signal their acceptance of particular sellers.
A quote view page is regularly updated as new quotes are made, the lowest quote in each category may be highlighted. With each quote, authentication again occurs. It is determined whether the participant is qualified or has been disabled. It is further determined whether the event is still open. A check is made to see if the item has associated with it a reserve price, which is to say, a minimum quote that will be accepted in the case of an auction and a maximum quote in the case of a reverse auction. The system also determines whether the event has been established as a regular or a reverse auction. It is further determined whether the particular item being quote upon has a quote increment, an amount by which a quote must vary from a previous low or high quote depending on the type of auction. In the case where there is a quote increment, it is determined whether the quote is an even multiple of that increment. If so, in the case of a market priced item, conversion is made to indicate the market price plus the quote (the total price).
Other features of the system include determination of the extended price at a particular quote, quantity or “unit of measure” conversions as previously mentioned, an indication of the time remaining to the close of an event, five different levels of transparency and many other features described below. By “levels of transparency” is meant the set up of a page to show more or less information such as “full view” of quotes and quoters, low quote without color ranking, low quote only, “blind” (without competitive information), etc. When the system and method is used for traditional auctions, rather than reverse auctions, a seller is the event originator and administrator. A participant can be a seller in one instance and a buyer in another. This is useful when a participant who is ordinarily a purchaser has overstocked an item.
The system and method is conducive to the establishment of such business rules as are already in place in a particular trade, or that may desirably be implemented for better proceedings. For example, a quote within a predetermined “threshold” time before the time set for the close of quoting may result in an extension to give active participants placing quotes a chance to respond. In this situation, further rules can be implemented that participants placing quotes who have not placed a quote or have not placed a quote within a specified tolerance for an item a prior to a configurable time period are disabled from further participation in the event.
Upon the closing of an event a host buyer or administrator can choose which sellers will be chosen to provide the specified item from the event from the view award page. Subsequent to the awarding business the host buyer or administrator can adjust item volumes or pricing and add in additional purchase information (i.e. PO number, comments, etc . . . ). Once the award information is completed the host buyer or administrator has the ability to send system generated notification to the sellers that were awarded business from the event. The notification can be sent via email or fax. If it is sent via email the seller can then click on a link in the email which will allow the seller to logon and go to the participant award page. On the participant award page the seller can view the buyer awarded information, enter their invoice number, sales order number, update volumes and accept the award online. The system will then send a message to the host buyer and administrator notifying them of the completion of the award process.
In a negotiated event the user places a contract out for responsive quotes by setting out proposed terms or “parameters.” Items to be bought or sold are identified and invitations are sent to desired participants.
An invited participant gains admittance to the process by accepting, first, the event details and then accepting the initiating user's terms and conditions. Using the website page provided, an invited participant then submits his or her proposed terms, pricing, and contributed funds such as advertising contribution or volume discounts.
The initiating user then is provided an analysis web page at which the various proposals he or she has received can be viewed side-by-side for comparison. Proposed contributed funds can be categorized and compared by category. Various contingencies (“what if scenarios”) may be run. Negotiation with a responding user is enabled. If desired that user can be shown the proposals of others or just the contributed funds of others. The initiating user allows the responding user to open its proposal for changes, and a contract may then be awarded.
Competitive Branded Products Events
In one preferred embodiment, the system and method of the invention facilitates a buyer's choice between competitive branded products. This is done by affording a basis for comparing supplier's proposals. An objective comparison is afforded even though such terms as price, quantity, and additional funds may differ among the proposals. The system compares the gross margin that would result from a seller's proposal with the gross margin that would be achieved under the buyer's proposed terms. Dollar and percentage differences are shown. A comparison between sellers proposals is made based on how each proposal differs from each of the buyer's proposals.
The systems and methods provided in each of the above-described events benefit the buyer by:
The same systems and methods benefit the supplier by:
The above and further objects and advantages of the invention will be better understood from the following detailed description of a preferred embodiment taken in consideration with the accompanying drawings.
FIGS. 18A-F are a diagrammatic illustration of a data model of a system according to the invention;
Initially, one desiring to participate in an event according to the present invention is asked to complete a registration page available from the systems website. Typical information requested may include a login id (this may be assigned), a desired password, name, title, organization, address (actual and email), time zone, billing address, phone number(s), fax number(s), and categories. A listing of categories may characteristically be made available for the user's assistance. Default settings are made, unless overridden
Following registration, and after a participant has been given a login id and password, the user is shown to a simple login page (not shown) and proceeds as indicated at 101 in
On the other hand, if the id and password have been determined to be valid and the account is not disabled, then the server with which the user is in communication generates a cookie which is placed on the user's machine. This constitutes a global unique identifier (GUID), a 128-bit number unique to this particular user, and which identifies the user as well as the user's time zone offset and time zone abbreviation. The time zone offset and time zone abbreviation are used subsequently, so that in all further communications the user's time zone time is that which appears on all subsequent pages. At this time a file is established in the user's machine. Here the user's classification as administrator, buyer, seller or power buyer is recorded along with other authorizations of the user as may pertain. Cookie placement and file establishment of this kind are well understood procedures.
The user then proceeds to their home page 108. This page, as illustrated in
If the event is a replenishment event that is repeated at regularly scheduled times, then the responding sellers will be pre selected and will be able to participate in each replenishment event as it arises.
As seen in
Returning to the flowchart of
At every new page, authentication takes place. Additionally, event level authentication takes place for pages that display event information. User authentication is a general authentication, whereby the user is recognized as a qualified user of the website. Event participation is more specific and determines that the user is qualified to participate in the particular event.
As flowcharted at
If initially, the user is not valid at 118, then it is determined whether the user is seeking access to the server homepage or the registration or login pages, each readily available to the public. If that is the case, then the user is passed to that page that the user has requested. However, if the user is seeking another page, then the user is returned to the login page as indicated at 123.
Event participant authentication verifies that the current user is a valid event participant, and that the user has the necessary permissions to read various event pages. This authentication proceeds as indicated in
An additional funds/terms page of a seller is shown in
In the award default page of
The flowchart of
If a quote increment is in place, as determined at 204, then the routine determines at 210 whether the quote is an event multiple of the quote increment. If not, an error is displayed as indicated at 212. If the quote is a multiple of the quote increment as required, then a determination is made whether the particular item is market price based at 213. Also, at 204, if it is determined that there is no quote increment, the program steps directly to the determination of whether the item is market price based.
If this is a market price based item, then the quote will have been made relative to the market price. In other words, a quote of plus five cents would mean a quote five cents above the market price. When it is determined that the item is market price based at 213, then the quote is converted to actual price, by addition of the quote to the market price at 215. At this point, the quote table is updated at 216 and the buyer's quote view page illustrates the full price as calculated at 215. If the event is determined not to be market price based at 213, then a determination is made whether the quote is greater than zero at 218. In other words, a quote less than zero is appropriate in a market price based event because that quote less than zero can be subtracted from the market price to arrive at a positive number, but in other auctions, a quote less than zero is nonsensical, and again, the error is displayed at 212.
Having determined that the quote is appropriate at 216, and that update of the item quote table, i.e. the quote view page, is appropriate, the routine then proceeds to the sub-routine identified as item quotes trigger 219. This sub-routine is shown in the flow chart of
Where the quote is made in a unit of measure (“quote Unit of Measure”) other than the unit of measure listed in the event (“Event Item Unit of Measure”), if a cross reference or conversion figure exists between the two units of measure, then that is used in rule 2a to arrive at the item total. An example would be where the quote is in dollars per ounce and the event quantity is listed in pounds the “Event Item Unit of Measure to Quote Unit of Measure Cross Reference Ratio” would be 16. Similarly, rule 2b applies where the quote is made in a unit of measure other than the event unit of measure and, instead of a direct conversion or cross reference as in rule 2a, there exists a conversion figure from event item unit of measure to a pack unit of measure and another conversion figure for the pack unit of measure to the quote unit of measure. For example, if the event quantity were listed in pounds, but the quote was in ounces, and pounds per pack as well as ounces per pack were known, then the total item quote could be calculated.
Rule 2c applies when the event lists the quantity of product by the package, but the quote unit of measure by which the seller quotes is the pack unit of measure or in other words, the units packaged together in a single package. For example, if the event item quantity is 100 cases and each case contains 12 cans, then the pack quantity is 12. The quote quantity, which is the quote unit of measure, is one can and the item quote amount is the amount quote per can so for 100 cases times 12 cans where the quote is $1.00 per can, the total quote for the item is $1,200.
Rule 2d, immediately following, takes into account a further removed quote unit of measure. If the event item quantity is 100 cases of beef, and the pack quantity is 100 pounds per case, if the bidder were to quote in price per ounce, then an event item unit of measure to pack unit of measure cross reference ratio of 16 would be necessary to arrive at the item total. In this example, if the quote were of $1.00 per ounce, the total quote or item total would be $160,000 or 100 cases times 100 pounds per case times 16 ounces per pound times $1.00 per ounce.
The “Business rules for calculating the event funds/terms item totals” relate to the non-price funds/terms listed at line 164 of
If the event funds/terms type is of a percentage kind, then the field 387 in the table 385 has an integer set to 1. Again, as in rule 2a, if the event funds/terms quote amount is null and the event funds/terms minimum amount is not null, then the funds/terms item total is the gross event value divided by the event funds/terms minimum amount (a percentage). Similarly, if the event funds/terms quote amount is greater than the event funds/terms minimum amount, then the funds/terms item total is the gross event value divided by the percentage which is the event funds/terms quote amount. The “gross” is the sum of the “Item Totals” for the event, each as determined in the Business Rules for Calculating the Total quote for an Event Item described above. “Total Funds/Terms” is the sum of the “Offering Item Totals” for an event under Business Rules for Calculating the Event Funds/Terms Item Totals. Finally the Net Event Value is the Gross Event Value minus the Total Funds/Terms.
The data structure of the system is as schematically illustrated in the data model of FIGS. 18 A-F. These figures join as indicated in
Other tables in the data model take the event id from the table 350 as indicated by the unnumbered arrows labeled “event id=event id.” Information for the chart of
Event items, many of which have been discussed above, are set forth in the table 356. An event identifier in the form of an integer 358 is the primary key for this table. The entries <i1>, <i2> reference indices available as a quick way to find associated data. Other event related data and cross references are found in tables 361-364.
In table 390,
Participants in an event are identified in the table 395 and cross referenced in table 396 of
Various categories assigned to e.g. events, users and products are kept in table 440,
Phone information and cross references are in the tables 410, 411 and 412 of
The user id or GUID is in a sessions table 435 of
The Negotiated Event is an electronic process for gathering and analyzing proposals for a contract that has been sent out for bid. The process is broken down into three components: Initializing Event, Create Proposal, and Analyze/Negotiate Proposals.
The first component, flowcharted at
As shown in the flowchart in
The proposal begins at 613 by outlining the instructions on how to proceed through this process. Once this has been reviewed, the supplier enters into the proposal set-up screen at 614. Here the foundation is built for the supplier's whole proposal. Required information about the foundation is entered and submitted. This may include Proposed Annual Dollar Volume, Proposal Duration, Payment Terms and Annual Seasonal Distribution. The supplier is then faced with entering in cost and movement for each individual item within the event at 615. (“Movement” is a term understood in the grocery industry to mean volume moved over time, e.g. case per week or trucks per month.) Once completed, the supplier has the option to add at 616 any additional funding (by event level or item level) to round out their offering. The supplier has the ability to change any aspect of this proposal until the deadline that the buyer has determined in the set up process, but once the deadline has passed changes only are allowed at the buyer's discretion.
As shown in the flowchart at
Net Present Value is determined using the formula:
The net present value for a given cash flow is stated as the cash flow divided by 1+interest rate (i) taken to the power of the number of periods being calculated (t).
The inputs for these various elements in the application are as follows:
Item List Cost Differential is a means of weighting the extended amount to take into account the different volume of product the totals cannot be readily compared. This calculation is to alleviate that issue. The calculation is as follows:
The process could stop at the point of receiving the sellers quotes, but to add more flexibility to it the buyer is also empowered to negotiate with each proposal as indicated at 625. By negotiating the buyer may persuade a supplier to change certain aspects of the supplier's offering. If the supplier agrees to these changes the buyer has the ability to allow the supplier access to the supplier's proposal and once the change are made the buyer can close the access to the supplier. At this point the real time calculations are refreshed with the changes and the buyer will see at 628 the net effect on the changed proposal. If the buyer needs some leveraging to help in the negotiating process, the buyer can choose an option that allows the supplier to view certain aspects of any other proposals as indicated at 626 and 627. After the supplier reviews this information, then the buyer can again permit access for the supplier to modify his or her offering again. Once the proposals have been negotiated, the buyer can make a final review of the information. After this review the buyer has the ability to award the best offer electronically over the e-mail while also sending out to the other participants a thank you for their participation letter, all at 630.
Competitive Branded Products Event
Next the seller's or “supplier's” proposals or “quotes” are shown. These include price per case at 706, additional funds at 707, program price or cost to buyer at 708. The resultant gross margin is shown at 710.
The buyer's and seller's proposals are then compared. The difference in price appears at 712 and percent difference at 713. As can be seen the buyer's proposed price is less in each instance by the dollar amount shown in parentheses. The best supplier proposal from the buyer's point of view is Brand Z as indicated at 715.
At 717 the supplier proposals are compared, using the Brand Z proposal as the basis for a normalized comparison. The difference in percent difference between Brand X and Brand Z is shown at 718. The difference in percent difference between Brand Y and Brand Z is shown at 719. Corresponding dollar differences are at 720 and 721.
This then has allowed a comparison between proposals for branded products differing in price, differing in additional funds being offered and in which the buyer has made his or her proposal in one set of units (retail price per unit) and the responding supplier participants have made their proposal in another set of units (price per case). Nevertheless, the differences between sought-after gross margin and gross margin resultant from the suppliers proposals are made apparent.
Event Setup Options/Features
The following outline sets forth the many various setup options and features that the power buyer or administrator can use in setting up an event. Again, the olive buying event of
From the above outline the breadth of choices given a buyer or power buyer is apparent.
Whereas a specific, exemplary embodiment of the invention has been described, it will be readily understood by one skilled in the art that changes may be made without departure from the spirit and scope of the invention as set forth in the claims appended or to be appended hereto.