The universal shopping cart enables buyers to purchase from multiple participating merchants and websites but checkout only once. Below is an excerpt from the patent specification.
Universal electronic shopping cart
FIG. 39 depicts the UTU in expanded form. As shown, the inventory that the given website provider has associated with the given URL through the inventory/wish list creation process depicted in FIG. 40A appears, allowing the UTU user to check those items which he or she wishes to buy and add the checked items to the UTU “universal shopping cart” through the process depicted in FIG. 41. The total value of items currently in the UTU user’s cart–items which have been added to his or her cart from other vendors’ inventory lists that he or she has viewed earlier in the given browsing session–is also shown, and he or she can click the appropriate link to display the other items in his or her cart.
Also visible is a wish list that the given website provider has associated with the URL in the UET Company’s databases. If the UTU user wishes to respond to the website provider’s wish list, letting the website provider know that the UTU user has something that the website provider wants, the UTU user simply clicks the “offer your item” link to display the website provider’s contact form.
FIG. 40A depicts a process whereby a given website provider creates inventory and wish lists and associates these lists with registered URLs in the UET company database complex. The website provider visits 4003 the “My Inventory and Wish List” page 4021, an example of which appears in FIG. 40B. If the website provider wishes to create an inventory list 4003, he or she clicks the “create new inventory list” link to create a new record 4004 in the inventor list database and browse the “Create and Modify Inventory List” page 4031, such as the example depicted in FIG. 40C. From this page, the website provider submits items to be included in the particular inventory list record 4005, and/or removes any items that he or she no longer wishes to sell. If the website provider wishes to create additional inventory lists 4006, the process for creating an inventory list is repeated.
If the website provider wishes to create a wish list 4007, a similar process is followed: a new record is created 4008 and items that the website provider would like to acquire are added to the wish list 4009. The process is repeated 4010 as necessary. If the website provider wishes to edit an existing list 4011, he or she can also do so 4012.
Once at least one wish list or inventory list has been created, the website provider can choose to assign the list to a URL that has been registered with the Company 4013. This is done through the “My Registered URLS” page 4014, where assignments of lists to URLs are made 4015 by clicking on the name of the list currently assigned to the given URL (or “add” if no list is assigned) to visit another submission form (not depicted) through which he or she can choose from a list of available lists.
FIG. 41 depicts a process by which the UTU user uses the universal shopping cart utility function of the UTU. The website provider registers with the UET Company, gets bonded per the Harrison bonded payment system, and provides electronic funds transfer information for a receiving account into which funds collected from buyers will be deposited 4101. The UTU user registers, gets bonded and provides payment account information, such as a credit card account, bank account, or other account from which funds to pay for purchases made through the UTU are to be drawn 4102. The website provider creates an inventory list 4103 per the process in FIG. 40A. The UTU user logs into his or her account through the UTU and uses the UTU 4104 per the process in FIG. 38. If the UTU user wishes to purchase something in the website provider’s inventory 4105, the UTU user checks the checkbox next to the item or items and clicks the “add to cart” button 4107. The selected items are then marked as “reserved” in the UET company database record pertaining to the given inventory list. When an item is reserved, it no longer is displayed when the given inventory list is displayed in the UTU but appears in the shopping cart of the UTU user who has reserved it.
If the UTU user wishes 4110, he or she can visit other websites and add more items to his or her shopping cart 4111 from other vendors unrelated to the aforementioned website provider. Thus, instead of filling out multiple purchase forms and registering with multiple web vendors, the UTU user can buy from any number of vendors through a single interface: the UTU.
When the UTU user is ready to checkout 4112 and confirm the purchases in his or her cart, he or she clicks the “checkout” button 4113, reviews a list of the items in his or her cart (not depicted), and clicks “confirm purchases”. The UTU user’s confirmation can be processed directly through the UTU, or, alternately, this last step of the process can be handled through a Web form on the UET Company website. Once the UTU user confirms the purchases, the amount due is charged to the payment account previously provided 4114. If the payment is not successful 4115, e.g., a credit card is declined, the UTU user is notified and instructed to contact the Company 4116. Otherwise, funds are then wired to the website provider’s receiving account previously provided 4118, minus any processing fees charged by the UET Company, etc. If the electronic funds transfer is impossible for some reason 4119, the website provider’s funds are held by the UET Company and the website provider is notified and requested to provide a valid receiving account 4120. In any case, once funds have been collected from the UTU user, the purchased item is marked “sold” and is no longer visible through the UTU nor available for purchase 4121. The website provider is then instructed to deliver the item immediately 4122. If the UTU user does not confirm his or her purchases before ending the UTU session during which they were reserved, these items are removed from reserved status so that other users may purchase them.
If there are problems 4108, the dispute resolution process is followed 4106. While in a buyer’s cart, items are reserved from a seller’s inventory 4109 so that the user can continue browsing 4111, if he wishes 4110; if he fails to check out 4112, these items are released 4117.
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