Amazon Files Patent To Suggest Gifts Based On Religion, Sexual Orientation



( 1 of 1 )









United States Patent Application20060178946
Kind Code

A1

Agarwal; Amit D.


August 10, 2006


Providing gift clustering functionality to assist a user in ordering
multiple items for a recipient



Abstract

A method and system for creating of gift clusters of multiple items in a
client/server environment by users, and for the ordering of such
user-defined gift clusters of multiple items. In particular, a user can
specify multiple items to be associated together as a gift cluster, and
can also specify a variety of descriptive information about the gift
cluster. That user or another user can then order the gift cluster as a
gift for themselves or for another recipient, and may also order the gift
cluster for the same or different recipients multiple times. The
descriptive information can provide various information about how the
gift cluster is to be used, and can also assist the user or others in
identifying when the gift cluster is appropriate for a recipient. When
customers are later searching for appropriate gift clusters, the various
categorization or other descriptive information can then assist is
identifying appropriate gift clusters. The gift clustering functionality
may be provided by and work in conjunction with a particular item
ordering service, or instead may work independently from any particular
item ordering service.














Inventors:
Agarwal; Amit D.; (Seattle, WA)

Correspondence Name and Address:

    SEED INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY LAW GROUP PLLC
701 FIFTH AVE
SUITE 6300
SEATTLE
WA
98104-7092
US

Assignee Name and Adress:

Amazon.com, Inc.

Seattle

WA




Serial No.:

298985
Series Code:

11
Filed:

December 9, 2005









U.S. Current Class:705/26
U.S. Class at Publication:705/026
Intern'l Class: G06Q 3/00 20060101 G06Q030/00



Claims




1-8. (canceled)


9. A method for ordering multiple items defined by a user as a group using
a client system, the method comprising: displaying information
identifying multiple items previously defined by a user to be a group,
and displaying an indication of an action that is to be performed to
order the user-defined group of multiple items; and in response to the
indicated action being performed, sending to a server computer a request
to order the user-defined group of multiple items.


10. The method of claim 9 including receiving an indication of a recipient
to whom the ordered group of multiple items is to be delivered, and
wherein the sending of the request includes an indication to deliver the
multiple items to the indicated recipient as a group.


11. The method of claim 9 wherein the sending of the request to the server
computer results in an order being placed for the multiple items without
any further interaction by a user of the client system.


12. The method of claim 9 wherein the displaying includes displaying an
indication to add the user-defined group to a collection of items for
later ordering.


13. The method of claim 9 wherein the displaying includes displaying to a
user an indication to add the user-defined group to a collection of items
for that user that is accessible to others, the collection for indicating
to the others items in which that user has expressed an interest.


14. The method of claim 9 wherein the displaying includes displaying an
indication of each of multiple procurement options having information
related to ordering, wherein the indicated action that is to be performed
to order the user-defined group is selection of one of the displayed
procurement option indications, and wherein the sending of the request
includes an indication to order the user-defined group using the
information of the procurement option for the selected indication.


15. The method of claim 9 wherein the displaying identifies multiple
user-defined groups each having multiple items, and including, before the
sending to the server computer of the request to order a user-defined
group of multiple items, receiving an indication of the user-defined
group of multiple items to be ordered from a customer performing the
ordering.


16. The method of claim 15 wherein the displaying that identifies the
multiple user-defined groups of multiple items is in response to
selection by the customer of a displayed indication representing the
multiple user-defined groups.


17. The method of claim 15 wherein the performing of the indicated action
includes the indicating of the user-defined group of multiple items to be
ordered.


18. The method of claim 15 wherein the multiple user-defined groups of
multiple items were previously defined by the customer.


19. The method of claim 9 wherein the ordering of the user-defined group
of multiple items is performed by a second user distinct from the user.


20. The method of claim 9 wherein the user-defined group includes an item
representing a product to be supplied and an item representing a service
to be provided.


21. The method of claim 9 wherein the user-defined group includes items
that are different types of products.


22. The method of claim 9 wherein the user-defined group includes an item
that is another user-defined group of multiple items.


23. The method of claim 9 wherein the user-defined group has associated
shipping instructions, and wherein the sent request is additionally to
deliver the multiple items as specified by the shipping instructions.


24. The method of claim 9 wherein the user-defined group has associated
wrapping instructions for the multiple items, and wherein the sent
request is additionally to wrap the multiple items as specified by the
wrapping instructions.


25. The method of claim 9 wherein the displayed information and the
displayed indication are part of a Web page received from the server
system.


26. The method of claim 9 wherein the performing of the indicated action
includes clicking a mouse button when a cursor is positioned over the
displayed indication.


27. The method of claim 9 wherein the displaying of the information
identifying the user-defined group of multiple items is in response to
determining that the user-defined group satisfies search criteria
specified by a customer.


28. The method of claim 27 including assisting the customer to specify the
search criteria by: displaying indications of multiple categories related
to user-defined groups of items; and receiving indications from the
customer of a value for at least one of the multiple categories.


29. The method of claim 27 wherein the search criteria relates to
popularity of the user-defined group among other users.


30. The method of claim 27 wherein the search criteria relates to
demographic information about an intended recipient.


31. The method of claim 27 wherein the search criteria identifies groups
of multiple items such that the identified groups have a specified price.


32. The method of claim 27 wherein the search criteria identifies groups
of multiple items defined for a specified recipient.


33. The method of claim 27 wherein the search criteria identifies
user-defined groups appropriate for a specified occasion.


34. The method of claim 27 wherein the search criteria identifies groups
of multiple items defined for users with specified interests.


35. The method of claim 9 including, before the displaying of the
information, defining the group of multiple items based on received
indications from the user.


36. The method of claim 35 including assisting the user to define the
group of multiple items by: displaying indications of multiple items; and
in response to received indications for at least some of the multiple
items, adding the indicated items to the defined group.


37. The method of claim 35 including receiving category information to be
associated with the defined group of multiple items.


38. The method of claim 35 including receiving an indication from the user
to make the defined group of multiple items available for ordering to
other users.


39. A computer-readable medium whose contents cause a computer system to
perform the method of claim 9.


40. The computer-readable medium of claim 39 wherein the computer-readable
medium is a data transmission medium transmitting a generated data signal
containing the contents.


41. The computer-readable medium of claim 39 wherein the computer-readable
medium is a memory of a computer system.


42. A computer-readable generated data signal transmitted via a
transmission medium, the generated data signal having encoded contents
that assist a first user of a computer system to order multiple items
defined as a group by a second user, by: displaying information to the
first user identifying a group of multiple items defined by the second
user and displaying to the first user an indication of an action that is
to be performed to order the user-defined group of multiple items; and in
response to the indicated action being performed, sending to a server
computer a request to order the user-defined group of multiple items.


43. The computer-readable generated data signal of claim 42 wherein the
first user is distinct from the second user.


44. A client system for ordering multiple items defined by a user as a
group, comprising: a display component capable of displaying information
identifying multiple items defined by a user as a group and of displaying
an indication of an action that is to be performed to order the
user-defined group of multiple items; and an item ordering component
capable of, after performance of the indicated action, sending to a
server computer a request to order the user-defined group of multiple
items.


45. A client system for ordering multiple items defined by a user as a
group, comprising: means for displaying information identifying multiple
items defined by a user as a group and displaying an indication of an
action that is to be performed to order the user-defined group of
multiple items; and means for in response to the indicated action being
performed, sending to a server computer a request to order the
user-defined group of multiple items.


46-74. (canceled)


Description




CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS


[0001] This application is a continuation of co-pending U.S. patent
application Ser. No. 09/699,244 filed Oct. 27, 2000, which claims the
benefit of provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 60/217,333 filed Jul.
11, 2000, and which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.


TECHNICAL FIELD


[0002] The present invention relates to a computer method and system for
placing orders, and more particularly to a method and system for ordering
user-defined groups of multiple items.


BACKGROUND


[0003] The Internet comprises a vast number of computers and computer
networks that are interconnected through communication links. The
interconnected computers exchange information using various services,
such as electronic mail, Gopher, and the World Wide Web ("WWW"). The WWW
service allows a server computer system (i.e., Web server or Web site) to
send graphical Web pages of information to a remote client computer
system. The remote client computer system can then display the Web pages.
Each resource (e.g., computer or Web page) of the WWW is uniquely
identifiable by a Uniform Resource Locator ("URL"). To view a specific
Web page, a client computer system specifies the URL for that Web page in
a request (e.g., a HyperText Transfer Protocol ("HTTP") request). The
request is forwarded to the Web server that supports that Web page. When
that Web server receives the request, it sends that Web page to the
client computer system. When the client computer system receives that Web
page, it typically displays the Web page using a browser (i.e., a
special-purpose application program that effects the requesting of Web
pages and the displaying of Web pages).


[0004] Currently, Web pages are typically defined using HyperText Markup
Language ("HTML"). HTML provides a standard set of tags that define how a
Web page is to be displayed. When a user indicates to the browser to
display a Web page, the browser sends a request to the server computer
system to transfer to the client computer system an HTML document that
defines the Web page. When the requested HTML document is received by the
client computer system, the browser displays the Web page as defined by
the HTML document. The HTML document contains various tags that control
the displaying of text, graphics, controls, and other features. The HTML
document may contain URLs of other Web pages available on that server
computer system or other server computer systems.


[0005] The World Wide Web is especially conducive to conducting electronic
commerce. Many Web servers have been developed through which vendors can
advertise and provide items. The item can be products that are delivered
electronically to the purchaser over the Internet (e.g., music) and
products that are delivered through conventional distribution channels
(e.g., books delivered by a common carrier). Similarly, the items can be
services that are provided either electronically (e.g., providing email
service) or physically (e.g., performing cleaning services at the
purchaser's house). While an orderer or purchaser of an item typically
obtains full ownership of the item, other types of purchase transactions
include renting, leasing, trying an evaluation copy of an item for free
for a limited time, licensing, bartering, and exchanging.


[0006] A server computer system that is providing a item ordering or
purchasing service may provide information about the available items
using an electronic version of a catalog. A user (or "customer") may then
use a browser to view and select various items in the catalog that are to
be purchased. When the user has completed selecting the items to be
purchased, the server computer system then prompts the user for
information to complete the ordering of the items. This
purchaser-specific order information may include the purchaser's name,
the purchaser's credit card number, and a shipping address for the order.
The server computer system then typically confirms the order by sending a
confirming Web page to the client computer system and schedules shipment
of the items.


[0007] The selection of the various items from the electronic catalogs is
generally based on the "shopping cart" ordering/purchasing model. When
the purchaser selects an item from the electronic catalog, the server
computer system metaphorically adds that item to a shopping cart. When
the purchaser is done selecting items, then all the items in the shopping
cart can be "checked out" (i.e., ordered) when the purchaser provides
billing and shipment information. In some models, when a purchaser
selects any one item, then that item is "checked out" by automatically
prompting the user for the billing and shipment information. Although the
shopping cart model is very flexible and intuitive, it has a downside in
that it requires many interactions by the purchaser. Thus, if a purchaser
is ordering only one item, the overhead of confirming the various steps
of the ordering process and waiting for, viewing, and updating the
purchaser-specific order information can be significant. Also, sensitive
information is transmitted over the Internet each time an order is placed
using the shopping cart model, and thus is susceptible to being
intercepted and decrypted.


[0008] Some Web sites also provide Web-based gift registry functionality
(e.g., www.wishclick.com and www.netgift.com) in which a user can
manually specify indications of items which they are interested in
receiving, such as a "wish list" of desired items. Other users that
desire to give a gift to that user can view the user's wish list, and
then order or purchase an item from the list for the user. When using
such wish lists, the gift recipient is more likely to receive appropriate
gifts that they desire, and a gift giver is more likely to be able to
provide such gifts to the recipient. Moreover, some Web sites may
additionally track the items that gift givers purchase for the recipient,
and automatically remove those items from the wish list when they are
purchased.


[0009] Unfortunately, item ordering or purchasing services can be
difficult to operate in certain circumstances. For example, if a user of
such a service desires to send multiple items to a recipient, the user
can manually specify the multiple items one-by-one (e.g., by placing all
of the items in a shopping cart) and then order those items. However,
item purchasing services will not typically treat the multiple items as a
group--for example, some of the items may be shipped at different times
if they have different availability or shipping needs. Even if an item
purchasing service allows the user to indicate to ship all of the items
together, the multiple items will not typically be treated as a group for
other purposes such as pricing and availability (i.e., pricing and
availability information will be presented separately for each individual
item rather than for the group). In addition, if the user later desires
to order the same multiple items (e.g., for a different recipient), the
user will have to manually re-specify all of the items. This process can
be time-consuming and frustrating.


[0010] Other problems with current item ordering or purchasing services
relate to situations in which a user desires to order items for a
recipient, but has difficulty in identifying appropriate items to order.
For example, the user may be attempting to order items for a particular
occasion (e.g., the birthday of the user's mother, or Easter), but have
difficulty identifying items that would be of interest for the recipient
on the occasion. Alternately, the user may know specific interests of the
recipient (e.g., wine tasting, rock climbing, 18.sup.th century French
literature, etc.), but have difficulty identifying items that would be of
interest to people with such interests. In other situations, the user may
know only limited information about a potential recipient (e.g., only a
username or an actual name) that does not include any information about
the interests of the recipient.


BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS


[0011] FIGS. 1A-1D illustrate an embodiment of creating user-defined gift
clusters of multiple items to be later used for ordering.


[0012] FIGS. 2A-2B illustrate an embodiment of ordering user-defined gift
clusters of multiple items.


[0013] FIG. 3A illustrates an embodiment of searching for user-defined
gift clusters of multiple items that satisfy specified search criteria.


[0014] FIG. 3B illustrates an embodiment of categorizing customers in a
manner that can be used to identify user-defined gift clusters of
multiple items that are appropriate for the customers.


[0015] FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a system
for creating and ordering user-defined gift clusters of multiple items.


[0016] FIG. 5 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of the Create Gift
Cluster routine.


[0017] FIG. 6 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of the Categorize Gift
Cluster routine.


[0018] FIG. 7 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of the Search Gift
Clusters routine.


[0019] FIG. 8 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of the View Gift Cluster
routine.


[0020] FIG. 9 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of the Order Gift Cluster
routine.


[0021] FIG. 10 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of the Determine
Delivery Information For The Gift Cluster subroutine.


[0022] FIG. 11 is a flow diagram of an embodiment of the Determine Payment
Information For The Gift Cluster subroutine.


DETAILED DESCRIPTION


[0023] A software facility is described below for the creation (or
"definition") of gift clusters of multiple items in a client/server
environment, and for the ordering of such user-defined gift clusters of
multiple items. In particular, a Gift Clustering system software facility
allows a user to specify multiple items to be associated together as a
gift cluster, and then to order the gift cluster as if it were a single
item. In some embodiments the Gift Clustering system is provided by and
works in conjunction with a particular item ordering service, while in
other embodiments the system works independently from any particular item
ordering service.


[0024] When creating or defining a gift cluster, the items added to the
gift cluster can differ in various ways, such as having both items
representing goods and items representing services, or having items of
various product types (e.g., a book, a CD, a food product, etc.). In some
embodiments, a gift cluster can even have an item that represents another
gift cluster. Specific mechanisms for creating gift clusters are
discussed in greater detail below.


[0025] After a user has created a gift cluster, the user can then order
the gift cluster as if it were a single item (e.g., information about the
ordering such as an availability or delivery date will be displayed for
the gift cluster as a whole rather than for the individual items), and
all of the multiple items associated with the gift cluster will be
delivered as a group to the recipient of the order (e.g., the items will
be shipped so as to arrive together). The user may order the gift cluster
as a gift for themselves or for another recipient, and may also order the
gift cluster for the same or different recipients multiple times.


[0026] When creating a gift cluster, a user can also specify a variety of
descriptive information about the gift cluster. For example, the user may
specify shipping instructions (e.g., next-day shipping) or wrapping
instructions (e.g., a particular type of wrapping paper) that are
appropriate for the items of the gift cluster. In addition, in some
embodiments the user could specify a particular recipient or delivery
address if the items are sufficiently specific to an intended recipient.
Similarly, the user can in some embodiments specify information related
to the user (e.g., if only the user will order the gift cluster), such as
payment information associated with the user. When a gift cluster is
ordered, such associated descriptive information will be used as part of
the ordering unless overridden.


[0027] The user can also specify other descriptive information about a
created gift cluster, such as whether the gift cluster is available only
to the user for ordering or instead is also available to other customers.
In some embodiments the user may indicate specific other customers to
whom the created gift cluster will be available, while in other
embodiments the created gift cluster will be available to any customer.
In addition, in order to encourage users to create useful gift clusters
and to make them available to others, the creators of gift clusters may
in some embodiments be compensated for supplying gift clusters that are
available to other users or for use of their supplied gift clusters by
other customers. Other types of descriptive information that the user may
specify about a gift cluster include an expiration date (e.g., after
Christmas) or other criteria (e.g., a number of times of the gift cluster
being ordered, such as 1) that when satisfied indicate that the gift
cluster should be removed. When the expiration criteria are satisfied,
the Gift Clustering system can remove (or make inaccessible) the gift
cluster.


[0028] The user in some embodiments can also specify various descriptive
information that categorizes the gift cluster so as to assist the user or
others in identifying when the gift cluster is appropriate for a
recipient. For example, the user may associate a mnemonic moniker with
the gift cluster that will be used for display. In addition, the user may
specify other categorization information for the gift cluster that
indicates recipients or situations for which the gift cluster is
appropriate. Such categorization could include identifying occasions for
which the gift cluster is appropriate and/or identifying types of
recipients for whom the gift cluster is appropriate. Types of recipients
could be identified in a variety of ways, such as by interests of the
recipients or by demographic information about the recipients.


[0029] The various categorization or other descriptive information can
assist customers that are searching for appropriate gift clusters. In
some embodiments, customers can specify an occasion and/or can identify
various information about the intended recipient, and will then receive
indications of various gift clusters that satisfy the specified criteria.
In other embodiments, customers can use other criteria to search for gift
clusters, such as popularity of the gift cluster (e.g., as defined by the
number of orders that have been received for the gift cluster) or price,
either alone or in combination with other criteria. If criteria such as
popularity is to be used, the system can also track the use of the
various created gift clusters in order to be able to determine such
information.


[0030] In addition to the user-specified categorization discussed above,
the system can in some embodiments automatically categorize user-defined
gift clusters. This automatic categorization can occur in a variety of
ways. For example, in some embodiments some or all individual items may
have categorization information associated with them (e.g., a toy with a
suggested age range or a gender-specific health product), and if so the
categorization information for the items in a gift cluster could be
combined to create an aggregate categorization for the gift cluster.
Alternately, in other embodiments the system could track information over
time about the recipients of a gift cluster (e.g., from information
specified during searches or from user profiles for recipients), and
could aggregate the information about the various past recipients in
order to determine a categorization for the gift cluster to assist in
identifying future recipients.


[0031] Similarly, the system can in some embodiments automatically search
for appropriate user-defined gift clusters. For example, even if a
customer does not know demographic information or interests of a possible
recipient, the system may be able to access such information (e.g., from
a user profile for the recipient, from past ordering patterns of the
recipient, or from publicly accessible databases). If so, the system
could receive an indication of a recipient, access relevant identifying
or categorization information about the recipient, and automatically
search for gift clusters that match the accessed information.


[0032] In other embodiments, the system may even be able to automatically
create gift clusters. For example, the system could monitor groups of
items that are ordered together by various customers. If enough customers
order a group of items together, the system could automatically create a
gift cluster containing those items.


[0033] Thus, gift clusters of multiple items can be created in a variety
of ways, and can have a variety of types of associated information. In
addition, the ability to create and order gift clusters provides a
variety of benefits over current item ordering services.


[0034] Gift clusters can also be identified and ordered by customers in a
variety of ways. In particular, gift clusters can be added to shopping
carts and to wish lists in the same manner as any other item. In
addition, in some embodiments a single-action ordering system is provided
in which purchaser-specific order information is stored for a user and
then used to complete an order for an item. Similarly, in some
embodiments multi-procurement option ordering is provided in which
multiple pre-defined alternatives with differing purchaser-specific order
information are available for completing the ordering of the item. If
single-action or multiple procurement option ordering systems are
available, customers can use such systems to order gift clusters for
themselves or for others in the same manner as for other items. Those
skilled in the art will appreciate that other mechanisms for ordering or
purchasing items can similarly be used to order or purchase gift
clusters.


[0035] In one embodiment, the single-action ordering system involves the
server system storing purchaser-specific order information for various
potential purchasers. When a purchaser requests information describing an
item, the server system can send the requested information (e.g., via a
Web page) to the client computer system along with an indication of a
single action to perform to place the order for the item. When
single-action ordering is enabled, the purchaser need only perform a
single action (e.g., click a mouse button) to order the item, and the
server system then completes the order by adding the purchaser-specific
order information for the purchaser to the item order information (e.g.,
product identifier and quantity).


[0036] In other embodiments, a mechanism for giving an item (including a
gift cluster) as a gift to an identified recipient(s) using a single
action is provided. When information is displayed describing the item,
the system displays an instruction to identify the recipient(s) and then
select a "give" button to order the item for the recipient(s). If the
user is giving the gift to only one recipient, then the user enters
identifying information, such as the email address, of the recipient. If
the user is giving the gift to more than one recipient, the user could
enter the identifying information of each recipient, or alternatively,
the user could enter a group name that is associated with the identifying
information for each member (i.e., recipient) of the group. The system
then uses the identifying information to identify a delivery address for
the gift, such as by searching accessible databases. Single-action
ordering is discussed in greater detail in U.S. patent application Ser.
No. 09/151,617, filed Sep. 11, 1998, which is hereby incorporated by
reference in its entirety and which is a continuation-in-part of U.S.
patent Ser. No. 09/046,503, filed on Mar. 23, 1998, now abandoned, and of
U.S. patent application Ser. No. 08/928,951, filed on Sep. 12, 1997, U.S.
Pat. No. 5,960,411.


[0037] In yet other embodiments, the multi-procurement option ordering
system involves each user having multiple defined procurement options
such that a selection or indication of one of those procurement options
can be sufficient to complete the ordering of the item without further
action by the user. Each procurement option can have a unique set of
purchaser-specific order information (e.g., payment information, delivery
address, delivery instructions, shipping instructions, wrapping
instructions, etc.), can have a unique moniker (e.g., a short name such
as "home," partial payment information, partial delivery address
information, recipient name, etc.), and can have a variety of types of
recipients (e.g., the user, an individual other than the user, a group of
recipients, etc.) to whom an ordered item will be delivered. In some
embodiments, each user can have one of their procurement options
designated as their primary or default procurement option.
Multi-procurement option ordering is discussed in greater detail in U.S.
patent application Ser. No. 09/547,540, filed Apr. 12, 2000, which is
hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety and which claims the
benefit of provisional U.S. Patent Application No. 60/171,947, filed Dec.
23, 1999 and of U.S. Patent Application No. 60/190,264, filed Mar. 17,
2000.


[0038] FIGS. 1A-1D illustrate various example embodiments of creating
user-defined gift clusters of multiple items that can be later used for
ordering. In particular, FIG. 1A illustrates the display of an example
Web page describing an available item, including a mechanism for adding
the item to one or more gift clusters. This example Web page may be sent
from a server system to a client system when a user of the client system
requests to review detailed information about the item.


[0039] The example Web page contains a summary description section 101, a
shopping cart section 103, an ordering section 105, a wish list addition
section 107, and a detailed description section 109. These various
sections 101-109 allow a user to take a variety of actions with respect
to the described item. In particular, the summary and detailed
description sections provide information that identifies and describes
the item. The shopping cart section allows the user to add the described
item to one or more shopping carts. In particular, the shopping cart
section includes a shopping cart option display 103a that indicates a
currently selected shopping cart as well as a drop-down shopping cart
selection button to select other shopping carts. The shopping cart
section also contains a button 103e to use to add the described item to
the currently selected shopping cart. In a similar manner, the wish list
addition section allows the user to add the described item to one or more
wish lists by using a wish list option display 107a that allows a current
wish list to be selected and a button 107e that adds the described item
to the currently selected wish list. The ordering section can be used for
single-action ordering and multi-procurement option ordering of the
described item. In particular, the user can select a current procurement
option using the procurement option display 105a (if multiple procurement
options are available for the user), and can order the described item
using the information of the current procurement option with a
single-action by selecting the button 105e (e.g., with a single click of
the mouse button over the displayed indication of the button). The
procurement option display may initially show a default procurement
option, or may instead show only a single procurement option if only one
is available. The ordering section also contains a gift indication
selection option 105g that, if selected when the button 105e is selected,
causes the system to gather additional information from the user such as
whether a gift message will accompany (or precede) the item and whether
to gift-wrap the item.


[0040] In addition to the sections 101-109, the example Web page also
contains a gift cluster creation section 110 with which the user can add
the described item to one or more gift clusters. In particular, the gift
cluster creation section contains a gift cluster display 112, which
includes a current gift cluster 114 and a gift cluster option selection
button 116. The gift cluster creation section also contains an item
addition button 118 that when selected will add the described item to the
current gift cluster. In the illustrated embodiment, if there is more
than one available gift cluster, a default gift cluster is initially
selected as the current gift cluster when the Web page is first
displayed. In other embodiments the system may allow only a single gift
cluster to be created at a time. As is shown, a gift cluster with the
moniker "Mom's Birthday Present" is the current gift cluster. When the
item addition button is selected (e.g., by clicking the mouse when the
cursor is over section 118), the client system sends a message to the
server system requesting that the described item be added to the current
gift cluster.


[0041] After the server system receives a message from the client system
to add the item to the current gift cluster, the server system can then
associate information about the item (e.g., a unique item ID) with the
current gift cluster. In addition, in some embodiments the user may be
able to specify quantity information for the item being added, either as
part of the item description Web page or via an additional Web page (not
shown) sent to the client system in response to the message. The server
system may also send a new Web page (not shown) to the client system that
confirms that the item has been added. The information about the gift
clusters and their associated items can also be stored in a variety of
ways. In some embodiments, the gift cluster information is stored by the
server system and available to the client system only when the server
system provides it to the client system, while in other embodiments the
client system stores the gift cluster information and provides it to the
server system.


[0042] Those skilled in the art will appreciate that the example Web page
can be modified in a variety of ways. For example, Web pages on the
server system may contain only the sections 101-109, and the gift cluster
creation section may be selectively included or excluded before sending
the Web page to the client system. Alternately, in some embodiments only
a single shopping cart, wish list, procurement option, and gift cluster
may be available or displayed on the Web page. Those skilled in the art
will also appreciate that these various sections can be omitted or
rearranged or adapted in various ways. The user need only be aware of the
item to be added to a gift cluster and of an action (e.g., a single
action) needed to add the item to the gift cluster.


[0043] FIG. 1B illustrates the display of multiple gift cluster options
available for selection by the current user. In the illustrated
embodiment, a dropdown list of the available gift clusters is displayed
after the receipt of a user indication (e.g., a left-click of the mouse
while the cursor is over button 116). In addition to previously created
gift clusters 120, 122, 124, and 126 that are displayed in the list, an
option 130 to create a new gift cluster is also displayed. As is shown,
some of the information on the Web page may be obscured by the dropdown
list, such as the button 118. In alternate embodiments, available gift
clusters may be displayed in a manner other than with a dropdown list.
For example, the available gift clusters may instead be added to the Web
page when it is initially generated, and thus be displayed without user
indication. Alternately, available gift clusters can be displayed by
cycling through and displaying a single entry at a time from a list of
available gift clusters.


[0044] The gift clusters to be displayed can be determined in a variety of
ways. In some embodiments, any gift cluster that the user has previously
created may be displayed, while in other embodiments only certain gift
clusters (e.g., those whose creation has not been completed) may be
displayed. Alternately, some gift clusters (e.g., completed gift
clusters) can be displayed in a manner that indicates that they are not
available for selection (e.g., displayed in a dimmed manner or with an
identifying mark).


[0045] The appearance of the displayed gift clusters can also vary in
different ways. For example, the order and format in which the gift
clusters are displayed can vary. In the illustrated embodiment, the list
of gift clusters begins with the currently selected gift cluster (shown
in highlighted form). In addition to order and format, the appearance of
each individual gift cluster can also vary. For example, rather than
displaying a moniker to represent a gift cluster, it is also possible to
represent a gift cluster in other manners (e.g., when no moniker is
defined) such as by displaying descriptive information about the gift
cluster or information about some or all of the items in the gift
cluster.


[0046] In the illustrated embodiment, the selection of an indicated
displayed gift cluster causes that gift cluster to become the current
gift cluster, but does not cause the item to be added to that gift
cluster. Thus, for example, if gift cluster 122 with the moniker "Dog
Owners" is selected, then that gift cluster will become the current gift
cluster and the "Dog Owners" moniker will replace the moniker "Mom's
Birthday Present" in the gift cluster display 112. If the user decides to
then add the described item to the current gift cluster by selecting the
button 118, the item will be added to the gift cluster 122.


[0047] If the user instead selects the "add new gift cluster" option 130,
a new gift cluster will be created and selected as the current gift
cluster. To begin the creation of the new gift cluster, the user may be
presented with an additional Web page as illustrated in FIG. 1D for
gathering information about the new gift cluster, such as a moniker,
shipping instructions, whether to make the gift cluster available to
others, and descriptive information such as categorization information.
In such an embodiment, the new gift cluster would be available for having
items added to it after the gift cluster information is specified.
Alternately, some or all of this information may be gathered later, such
as after the creation of the new gift cluster is complete, and thus the
new gift cluster may be available for having items added to it
immediately after option 130 is selected.


[0048] In other embodiments, gift clusters can be created in other ways.
For example, FIG. 1C illustrates an Item Categorization Information table
140 that contains various information about a wide variety of items. Each
item has an entry 140a-140ae in the table, with the entry containing
various information about the item in some or all of the fields. For
example, entry 140a represents an item with an Item Name of "Book ABC"
and a unique Item ID of "0001342." The book is categorized as a "Product"
with a Product Type of "Book," and has no value for the Service Type
field since it is not categorized as a service. The item is categorized
as being appropriate for any occasion (indicated in the illustrative
example with a "*" in the Occasion field), and similarly is appropriate
for recipients of any Gender, Age Range, and Interests. Those skilled in
the art will appreciate that a variety of other types of information
about the items (e.g., price and availability) and about appropriate
recipients for the items (e.g., religion and race) could also be
displayed.


[0049] In addition to item "Book ABC," a variety of other available items
are similarly displayed, including various food products (both packaged
and prepared), flowers, music CDs, DVD and VHS movies, TVs, software,
toys, video games, health products, medicine, beauty products, art and
other collectibles, housewares and kitchenware, furniture and other home
furnishings, tools and various lawn products, automobiles for purchase or
rental, cleaning services, computers and associated services, gift
certificates, and previously created gift clusters. Those skilled in the
art will appreciate that a variety of other types of items could be
displayed.


[0050] In addition to the fields containing item information, each item
also has a selection box at the left end of its entry which may be
selected by the user as part of a gift cluster being created. In
particular, the selected items will be added to the Current Gift Cluster
151 displayed below the table, and in the illustrated embodiment the user
can change the currently selected gift cluster by selecting the Change
Gift Cluster button 153. After the current gift cluster and each of the
items of interest are selected, the user can add the selected items to
the gift cluster by selecting the Add Selected Items To Gift Cluster
button 155. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that items can be
displayed and selected for gift clusters in a variety of other ways.


[0051] FIG. 1D illustrates one method of supplying a variety of
descriptive information about a gift cluster being created, regardless of
whether it is created by selecting option 130 in FIG. 1B or in some other
manner. In the illustrated embodiment, the user is required to select a
name moniker 162 for the gift cluster, and can optionally select a
variety of types of other information. The other information includes a
Description 164, an indication of whether the gift cluster is to be
Available To Others 166, Expiration criteria 168, and one or more
Recipients 170, Categories 172, Occasions 174, Education Levels 176,
Genders 178, Income Levels 180, Ages (or age ranges) 182, geographic
Locations 184, Interests 186, Races 188, Ethnicities 190, Religions 191,
Occupations 192, Sexual Orientations 193, Gift Wraps 195, Shipping
Instructions 196, and Accompanying Cards 197. For some types of
information the user may select from a dropdown list (e.g., Available To
Others), while for other types of information the user may enter freeform
text (e.g., Description). After all of the information of interest has
been specified, the user can associate the specified information with the
gift cluster being created by selecting the Create New Gift Cluster As
Indicated button 160. Those skilled in the art will appreciate that any
type of information describing an item or how an item can be
appropriately used (including appropriate occasions and recipients for
the item) could similarly be specified for the gift cluster, and that in
some embodiments a Name moniker may not be required.


[0052] After one of more gift clusters have been created, such gifts
clusters can be used for purchasing multiple items for a recipient as a
group. FIGS. 2A-3B illustrate various embodiments of identifying and
purchasing appropriate user-defined gift clusters of multiple items. In
particular, FIG. 2A illustrates one method in which a user can view gift
clusters which they have previously created and can order one or more of
those gift clusters for a recipient. The previously created gift clusters
are displayed (e.g., in response to a user request) in a My Gift Clusters
table 220 that contains various information about the gift cluster. Each
gift cluster has an entry in the table that contains information about
the gift cluster, and also has a sub-entry in the table for each item in
the gift cluster.


[0053] Thus, for example, the gift cluster with the moniker "Mom's
Birthday Present" is represented by entry 220a in the table, and the
three items selected in FIG. 1C to be added to the gift cluster are
represented by sub-entries 220b-220d. These sub-entries contain the item
information illustrated in FIG. 1C, whether copied from or linked to the
Item Categorization Information table. This gift cluster is indicated to
be Accessible To Others (e.g., whether specifically indicated by the user
or as a default for newly created gift clusters), to currently have no
Expiration Date or other expiration criteria, and to have a price of $150
for all of the items in the gift cluster. No description information is
available for the gift cluster, but it does have a unique cluster ID. In
addition, the gift cluster has a variety of categorization information
associated with it. In the illustrated embodiment, the categorization
information of the various items in the gift cluster is automatically
combined to create a set of categorization information for the gift
cluster that is consistent with the items. In some embodiments, the user
may be able to manually modify some or all of the automatically generated
descriptive information associated with the gift clusters, while in other
embodiments all descriptive information about the gift clusters may
instead be manually supplied. Gift cluster ABC, represented by entry 220e
and sub-entries 220f-220g similarly has various associated information in
the table.


[0054] In addition to the other fields, each gift cluster entry in the
table also has a selection box at the left end of its entry which may be
selected by the user. In addition, a Current Recipient 231 is displayed
below the table, as well as a Change Recipient button 233. After a
current recipient and one or more gift clusters of interest are selected,
the user can order the selected gift clusters for the selected recipient
by selecting the Buy Selected Gift Clusters For Recipient Now button 235.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that gift clusters can be
displayed and selected for ordering for a recipient in a variety of other
ways.


[0055] Rather than ordering gift clusters from a display of multiple gift
clusters such as in table 220, a user may instead be able to order an
available gift cluster from an Web page describing the gift cluster, an
example of which is illustrated in FIG. 2B. This example Web page may be
sent from a server system to a client system when a user of the client
system requests to review detailed information about a gift cluster.


[0056] The example Web page contains a summary description section 201, a
shopping cart section 203, an ordering section 205, a wish list addition
section 207, and a detailed description section 209. These various
sections 201-209 allow a user to take a variety of actions with respect
to the described gift cluster. In particular, similarly to the item
description Web page illustrated in FIG. 1A, the summary and detailed
description sections provide information that identifies and describes
the gift cluster (e.g., information about the various items in the gift
cluster and/or various categorization information about the gift
cluster). The shopping cart section allows the user to add the described
gift cluster to one or more shopping carts by selecting a current
shopping cart with the shopping cart option display 203a and adding the
gift cluster to the current shopping cart with button 203e. In a similar
manner, the wish list addition section allows the user to add the
described gift cluster to one or more wish lists by using a wish list
option display 207a that allows a current wish list to be selected and a
button 207e that adds the described gift cluster to the currently
selected wish list. The ordering section can also be used in a manner
similar to that described with respect to FIG. 1A for single-action
ordering and multi-procurement option ordering of the described gift
cluster for a specified recipient. In addition to the sections 201-209,
the example Web page also contains a gift cluster creation section 210
with which the user can add the described gift cluster to one or more
other gift clusters.


[0057] After the server system receives a message from the client system
to perform one of the indicated actions for the described gift cluster
(e.g., order the gift cluster for a specified recipient), the server
system can then perform the requested action. The server system may also
send a new Web page (not shown) to the client system that confirms that
the action has been taken.


[0058] Those skilled in the art will appreciate that this example Web page
can be modified in a variety of ways. For example, in some embodiments
only a single shopping cart, wish list, procurement option, and gift
cluster may be available or displayed on the Web page. Those skilled in
the art will also appreciate that the various displayed sections can be
omitted or rearranged or adapted in various ways. The user need only be
aware of the gift cluster and of the recipient, and of an action (e.g., a
single action) needed to order the gift cluster for the recipient.


[0059] In addition to a user being able to display the various gift
clusters that the user has previously created, the user may also be able
to identify various gift clusters which match specified criteria, whether
they were created by the user or by others. In particular, FIG. 3A
illustrates one embodiment in which a user can specify various criteria,
and can search for and retrieve various gift clusters which match the
specified criteria.


[0060] In the illustrated embodiment, the user can specify search criteria
for one or more categorization information types 302-322, and can also
specify logical connectors (e.g., AND, OR, NOT, etc.) 352-368 which
determine how multiple search criteria are combined when searching. The
categorization information types include a gift cluster Name 302, user
Creator 304, Category 306 (e.g., any service, or a particular product
such as a book), Occasion 308, Gender 310, Age 312, Interests 314,
Maximum Price 316, and Expiration criteria 318, and for each of these
categories the user can select an appropriate value. The categorization
information types also include category type 320 which allows the user to
select any of a number of gift cluster properties, and to specify a value
for the property in field 322. For some types of information the user may
select from a dropdown list, while for other types of information the
user may enter freeform text. After all of the search criteria of
interest has been specified, the user can search for gift clusters that
match the search criteria by selecting the Search Now button 370. If the
user had specified criteria indicating, for example, an Occasion of
"Christmas," a Gender of "Male," and an Age of 17, both of the gift
clusters illustrated in FIG. 2A would match the specified criteria.
However, unless the user performing the search was the same user that
created the two gift clusters, only the gift cluster represented by entry
220a will be presented to the searching user since the other gift cluster
is not Accessible To Others.


[0061] Those skilled in the art will appreciate that any type of
information describing a gift cluster or how a gift cluster can be
appropriately used (including appropriate occasions and recipients for
the gift cluster) could be specified as search criteria. In addition,
gift clusters that are identified as matching the specified search
criteria can be displayed to the user performing the search in a variety
of ways, such as in a table similar to table 220 illustrated in FIG. 2A
or in multiple descriptive gift cluster Web pages such as is illustrated
in FIG. 2B.


[0062] In an alternate embodiment, a user may be able to identify various
gift clusters which are appropriate for a particular recipient, even if
the user does not have other relevant information about the user. For
example, the system may maintain or have access to various information
about the recipient which can be automatically identified and used as
search criteria. In some embodiments the information will be displayed to
the user, and the user can then use the customer information to perform a
search. In other embodiments, such information about the user may not
itself be displayed to the user, but the information can be automatically
used to perform a search, and the results of the search will be displayed
to the user.


[0063] FIG. 3B illustrates an embodiment in which various information
about multiple customers is stored and can be used as search criteria. In
particular, FIG. 3B illustrates a Customer Categorization Information
table 390 that contains various information about customers. Each
customer has an entry 390a-390d in the table, with the entry containing
various information about the customer in some or all of the fields. For
example, entry 390a represents customer John Doe who has a unique
Customer ID of "2749328." Mr. Doe is Male and has an age of 37, but other
information about Mr. Doe such as his Birthday, Interests, Occupation,
Education Level, Income Level, Location, Race, Ethnicity, Religion and
Sexual Orientation is not available. For other customers such as the
person represented by entry 390c, the actual name of the user may not
even be available, with only a username or screenname instead being used.
Those skilled in the art will appreciate that a variety of other types of
information about the customers could also be stored and displayed.


[0064] In addition to being able to use the information in the table as
search criteria (whether automatically or manually), the table in the
illustrated embodiment can also be displayed to the user and used for
specifying recipients of a gift cluster being ordered. In particular,
each customer entry in the table has a selection box at the left end of
its entry which may be selec

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