Shipping companies are a vital part of the global economy by being a crucial link in global supply chains. Every day, they transport billions of dollars worth of goods from one corner of the world to another.

But how can we define the target market for shipping companies in a way that these companies can design their offerings and develop their marketing plans?

And what are the factors that influence their target market? Also, since the target market includes both consumers and businesses, what factors influence their purchase decisions?

In this article, we will discuss the target market for shipping companies by answering these questions and identifying some of the key factors that influence their selection.

Who is the Target Market for Shipping Companies?

The target market for shipping companies is large and diverse and can be segmented in a variety of ways.

Consumers Vs Businesses

The first way to segment the target market for shipping companies is based on whether the customer is a consumer or a business. Consumers and businesses look for different things when selecting a shipping company.

For instance, consumers are more likely to be influenced by price, while businesses are more likely to prioritize reliability. Consumers may just need a one-time shipment, while businesses may need to establish a long-term relationship with a shipping company. Consumers may not mind a small delay but businesses may have just-in-time inventory requirements where delays can be extremely costly.

Domestic Vs International

Another way to segment the target market is based on whether they want to ship domestically or internationally. Shipping companies typically focus on either domestic or international markets.

Domestic shipping companies target customers who need to ship within their own country, while international shipping companies target customers who need to ship worldwide.

Customers who want to ship internationally will also expect the shipping company to handle customs clearance and other documentation in the destination country. They will also be expected the shipping company to have a network of partners in the destination country to ensure that the goods are delivered on time.

Type of Item being shipped

Another way to segment the target market for shipping companies is based on the type of item being shipped. Some customers may have the need to ship dangerous goods, perishable items, or high-value items.

Others may have business-to-business shipments or need to ship items that require special handling. Each of these sub-segments has different needs and therefore, should be targeted by shipping companies that can actually meet their need.

For instance, if a farm needs to ship its meat produce, it will need a shipping company that can provide refrigerated transport to ensure that the meat arrives fresh. If a customer needs to ship art, they will need a shipping company that offers climate-controlled storage and transport to prevent damage to the paintings.

When the target market for shipping companies is segmented based on the type of item being shipped, it can overlap with the target market for courier services. This is because, for certain items, a shipping company may not be the right candidate. For instance, if someone wants to send documents over to another destination, a courier service might be a better alternative to a shipping company.

Expected Delivery Time

Some customers need their goods delivered overnight, while others are willing to wait a few days or even longer. Overnight shipping is typically more expensive and is only required for time-sensitive items. Customers who are willing to wait a few days can be offered a lower price.

Many customers will insist on a legal clause that guarantees their goods will be delivered by a certain date or they will receive a refund. This is called an “on-time delivery guarantee” and can be a make-or-break factor for some business customers when choosing a shipping company.

What factors influence a customer’s selection of a shipping company?

When the time comes for a customer – a consumer or a business – to select a shipping company there are several factors that they take into consideration before settling on their choice of a shipping company.

Some of the most important of these factors are:

  1. Ability
  2. Reliability
  3. Timeliness
  4. Price
  5. Customer service
  6. Reputation

Let’s see these closely.

1. Ability

The most basic question any customer asks is – “Can this shipping company deliver my package to the destination?”

For instance, if someone wants to ship something internationally, they will not select a shipping company that only ships domestically. Similarly, If they need to ship hazardous materials, they will check to see if the shipping company is licensed to do so.

Customers will only select a shipping company that is able to handle their particular needs.

2. Reliability

The second question any customer asks is – “Can I count on this shipping company to get my package delivered on time and in one piece?”

Established shipping companies have a reputation for reliability. And the simple reason for this is that a shipping company that loses its reputation for reliability will soon cease to exist.

A shipping company that is reliable has processes and contingency plans in place to handle unexpected delays and still deliver the goods on time. Many customers, especially business customers, are willing to pay a premium for this peace of mind.

3. Timeliness

Timeliness is, in fact, an aspect of reliability but needs to be considered separately because there are some customers who do not mind delays as long as the price is good and the shipped items are delivered intact. This is often true with consumers.

But many businesses cannot risk delays and for them, timely delivery is a must-have when selecting a shipping company. This point is so important for many companies that they will sometimes purchase extra insurance to cover delays in delivery.

Such companies are often willing to pay a premium price for shipping companies that can guarantee timely delivery.

4. Price

Of course, price is a factor that influences a customer’s selection of a shipping company. But most customers only look at price relative to the value they get by having their package or product delivered on time and in good condition.

For instance, a customer who needs their goods delivered overnight is not going to be too concerned about the price as long as the shipping company can guarantee that the goods will, in fact, be delivered overnight.

On the other hand, a customer who is willing to wait a few days for delivery will be more sensitive to price and may be willing to switch to a different shipping company if they can get a lower price even if it means accepting a few extra days for delivery.

5. Customer service

Another factor that influences a customer’s choice of a shipping company is the quality of customer service. This includes everything from the ease of placing an order to how well the shipping company deals with delays or problems.

Many customers want to know that they will be treated well and their questions will be answered promptly. They may also want to know that they can reach a live person when they need to.

Customer service becomes truly necessary if something goes wrong. Customers want to be reassured that the shipping company will take responsibility for their mistakes and make them right.

6. Reputation

The final factor, but arguably the most important, that customers consider is reputation. A shipping company’s reputation is a combination of all the above factors and so is based on its ability, reliability, timeliness, price, and customer service.

Customers often ask around before selecting a shipping company. They want to know if other people have had good experiences with the company.

There are also many online review sites where customers can read reviews of shipping companies. A company’s reputation is critical because it gives potential customers confidence that they will be satisfied with the company’s services.


Shipping companies are an essential link in global commerce making the target market for shipping companies broad and vast. This market includes both consumers and businesses. It includes those who want to ship domestically as well as those who need to ship internationally.

Some customers in the target market for shipping companies only need to have normal everyday items shipped while others may have a need to ship dangerous, highly perishable, or even high-value items. Shipping companies can offer a range of delivery times from overnight to over weeks or even months. Overnight deliveries are often by private plane whereas shipments with longer delivery times can be made by ship.

When selecting a shipping company for their needs, customers take many factors into account. The most important of these is a shipping company’s ability and its reputation. If a shipping company cannot deliver what the customer wants to be delivered or if it has a poor reputation, no one will hire them. In addition to ability and reputation, customers look at a shipping company’s record of delivering on time, the quality of its customer service, and the prices it charges.