This patent application has not been assigned to a company or institution.
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to systems and methods for using computer network technology to provide consumers with resource management capabilities and to provide retailers, service providers and manufacturers with enhanced marketing channels.
"The Internet has evolved into an entire marketplace offering consumers the ability to shop for goods and services and make transactions electronically without leaving their home. The Internet has also expanded distribution channels and ways of reaching consumers through advertising for retailers, service providers and manufacturers. The Internet and a number of more evolutionary technologies have also evolved to provide retailers, service providers and manufacturers ('retailers') with ways to attract consumers to their traditional sources of goods. For example, many retailers sell gift cards that may be redeemed at the retailers' stores for a predetermined amount. Many retailers have also established loyalty programs, or awards programs, and some have provided consumers with access to accounts over the Internet. Retailers have also used the Internet to provide consumers with coupons, and directed notices of offers and savings. Retailers may obtain Marketing information about consumers to help them determine what's selling and what's not.
"Despite the revolutionary growth of the Internet as a market place, there are frustrations faced by both consumers and retailers alike. Consumer frustration primarily centers on resource management issues (managing information, gift cards, coupons, receipts, spam, loyalty program cards, rebates, etc). While gift cards have become popular, they've also become a source of confusion and clutter. A consumer cannot know the balance on most gift cards without visiting the store, and often, a consumer will have many gift cards from a wide variety of retailers. Keeping track of the gift cards requires meticulous record-keeping. Many gift cards often end up being unused, providing no advantage to the consumer and little advantage to the retailer. In addition to gift cards, consumers often experience frustration with having to store receipts, or receiving unsolicited offers by email, or having to keep track of many passwords to access many accounts for loyalty programs or award programs.
"Retailer frustration centers on having poor access to consumer attention and information. Consumers faced with an overwhelming number of offers and ads find it difficult to take advantage of such offers and ads leaving retailers clueless as to how successful their campaigns are, or what products are selling as a result of the campaigns, or who is buying what products. Furthermore, retailers often direct a campaign to a particular consumer that is wholly uninterested in the product or service, or is uninterested at that particular time. Retailers generally over communicate with consumers, hoping to catch them at a time when they will be interested, leading to consumers being inundated with irrelevant communications. These frustrations are not only related but are literally caused by the opposing party. Trying to solve the needs of one without simultaneously addressing the needs of the other is an exercise in futility.
"There is a need for consumers to manage and consolidate shopping resources. In addition, a need exists to provide retailers with access to consumers in an informed and focused way. There is a need as well for systems and methods that would accomplish both improved consumer resource management and improved access to those consumers for retailers."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent application: "In view of the above, methods are provided for consumer resource management. In accordance to one example method, a consumer interface is provided on a network terminal available to a consumer. The consumer provides consumer input at the network terminal and the consumer input is communicated to an enterprise infrastructure. A consumer account is configured based on the consumer input at the enterprise infrastructure. The consumer account includes a partner interface to access a plurality of selected goods and services providers. The consumer account is also configured to set fund balances for at least one selected goods and services provider. The consumer then purchases a gift card from the enterprise infrastructure to enable purchases from at least one selected goods and services provider.
"In another aspect of the invention, another example of a method for providing consumer resource management includes generating a universal transaction identifier from the enterprise infrastructure, the universal transaction identifier corresponding to the consumer account to enable purchases from a plurality of the selected goods and services providers.
"In another aspect of the invention, a method is provided for targeted marketing by a goods and services provider. According to the example method, transaction data is collected from point-of-sale (POS) terminals processing transactions. The transaction data includes a consumer identifier for each consumer involved in the transactions. The transaction data is sent to an enterprise infrastructure. For each transaction, a consumer account is accessed in the enterprise infrastructure for each consumer based on the consumer identifiers. The transaction data is then recorded in the corresponding consumer accounts. The goods and services provider is provided with the information relating to consumers that purchased goods and services from the goods and services provider. The goods and services provider may then use the information to target consumers to receive offers, coupons, and savings.
"Various advantages, aspects and novel features of the present invention, as well as details of an illustrated embodiment thereof, will be more fully understood from the following description and drawings.
"Other systems, methods and features of the invention will be or will become apparent to one with skill in the art upon examination of the following figures and detailed description. It is intended that all such additional systems, methods, features and advantages be included within this description, be within the scope of the invention, and be protected by the accompanying claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"The invention can be better understood with reference to the following figures. The components in the figures are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. In the figures, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the different views.
"FIG. 1 is a schematic diagram of an example system for providing consumer resource management and targeted marketing.
"FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an example system network that may be used to implement an example of the system in FIG. 1.
"FIG. 3 is a schematic diagram depicting an example of a retail partner infrastructure.
"FIG. 4 is a schematic diagram depicting another example of a retail partner infrastructure.
"FIG. 5 is a schematic diagram depicting another example of a retail partner infrastructure.
"FIG. 6 is a flow diagram depicting operation of an example of a Point-of-Sale (POS) terminal interface.
"FIG. 7 is a flow diagram depicting operation of another example of a POS terminal interface.
"FIG. 8 is a flow diagram depicting operation of another example of a POS terminal interface.
"FIG. 9 is a block diagram of an example of an enterprise infrastructure interface with retail partners.
"FIG. 10 is an example of a user interface that may be implemented for use by a consumer and which provides targeted offers to particular consumers.
"FIG. 11A is an example of a flow diagram illustrating the delivery of special offers and savings to target consumer for access and use by the consumer.
"FIG. 11B is an example of a flow diagram illustrating a consumer receipt and processing of special offers and saving.
"FIG. 12 is an example of a user interface that may be implemented for use by a consumer for the purchase of gift cards.
"FIG. 13A is an example of flow diagram illustrating the receipt, purchase and/or registration of a gift card by a consumer.
"FIG. 13B is an example of a flow diagram illustrating an example of an interest bearing gift card implementation.
"FIG. 14 is an example of a user interface that may be implemented to display a gift card exchange system and gift card balance check interface.
"FIG. 15 is a flow diagram illustrating an example of the operation of one implementation of a gift card exchange program.
"FIG. 16 is an example of a user interface that may be implemented to display various loyalty programs in which a consumer is participating and itemized details of a select loyalty program.
"FIG. 17 is an example of a flow diagram illustrating consumer enrollment in a loyalty program and the update of information related to the loyalty program.
"FIG. 18 is an example of a user interface that may be implemented to display a targeted offer sent to the user in response to the user completing a travel calendar.
"FIG. 19 is an example of a flow diagram illustrating the delivery of special offers and savings to target consumer in response to the completion of an event or travel calendar.
"FIG. 20 is an example of a user interface that may be implemented for use by a consumer and which provides a consumer with the ability to have targeted offers send to the consumer's personal system account via a short message service text message.
"FIG. 21 is an example of a flow diagram illustrating the delivery of special offers and savings to consumer upon the receipt of a short message service text message."
URL and more information on this patent application, see: ROBERTS,
Keywords for this news article include: Patents, Marketing, Advertising.
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