The UMA Standards

Universal Marketplace grows out of work beginning in 1997, organized by CommerceNet, Bizbots, and other organizations committed to open standards for electronic commerce. It was subsequently funded by an Advanced Technology Grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Framework Requirements
The Universal Marketplace can be described as a domain-specific open agent communication meta-architecture. The framework proposes to provide an open environment for self-interested commerce agents to participate at market, using both technologies that are currently available and currently under development. Thus, we have attempted to build extensibility into the architecture so that new protocols can be accommodated as they arise. Our goal is not to lead the invention of new languages and methods of agent interaction, but rather to enable advanced forms of more profitable electronic commerce.

The key is that — through an electronic medium — changes to a business can be made dynamically. For example, real-time stock levels can achieve just-in-time inventory management. This helps a company to optimize the return that it anticipates through the pursuit of the business model. Furthermore, the inter-connection capabilities of the Internet can create an exponential number of cross-selling opportunities. In general, the benefits include:

  • Broader reach. Larger potential customer base. Retailers that embrace the web enjoy the potential of selling to an ever-growing community of well-informed shoppers. Geographic boundaries become less relevant and operating hours are limited only behind the hardware and software that runs the web site.
  • Increased revenue. The web opens up significant and new sales and distribution channels. Merchants can leverage a tremendous geographical coverage and sheer volume of web users to establish a global marketplace at a very, very low cost.
  • Cost savings. Electronic commerce makes it possible for merchants to drastically reduce the costs associated with holding large physical inventories. Some businesses on the Internet today hold no inventory at all, but instead offer a range of products from several manufacturers and link their order entry systems to the manufacturers' systems for order fulfillment.
  • Customer relationships are improved. Online commerce enables merchants to form interactive personal relationships with customers. The Internet can save time and money and improve order accuracy by eliminating the intermediaries in the business chain between the buyer and seller.


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