Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assist ocean container carriers in devising effective
marketing strategies to attract and retain Indian shippers by letting them understand the list of criteria
Indian shippers use in the carrier selection decisions and also the amount of importance they assign to
each criterion during such decisions.
Design/methodology/approach – To explore the criteria, review of transportation literature,
customer satisfaction survey questionnaires of container carriers and SERVQUAL battery was
undertaken. Telephonic interviews and focus group interview were also conducted for this purpose. In
order to evaluate the criteria, analytic hierarchy process (AHP) was used. In the AHP, the pairwise
comparisons were carried out by another focus group with the Giúp of a questionnaire. For AHP
calculations, the Expert Choice 11.5 software was used.
Findings – Indian shippers use 45 criteria in the container carrier selection process and out of these, low
freight is ranked as the most important criterion and pricing flexibility is the second most important one.
In the list, these are the only two criteria found to be with more than 10 per cent importance. The least
importance is given to five criteria: gifts and compliments, online booking, physical facilities, professional
appearance and trade announcements which are weighed with 0.10 per cent importance. The paper has
explored and added several new carrier selection criteria to the existing transportation literature.
Practical implications – The paper enables container carriers to understand various criteria Indian
shippers use in the container carrier selection decisions along with their relative importance in such
decisions. It also helps container carriers to decide which criterion is to be given priority and which not
while devising their marketing strategies for Indian market. This decision is vital to maximize shippers’
Originality/value – The paper is the first ever carrier selection study undertaken in India and is
expected to open up enormous scope for future research.
Keywords India, Freight forwarding, Freight containers, Marine transport, Decision making
Paper type Research paper
The purpose of this paper is to assist ocean container carriers in devising effective marketing
strategies to attract and retain Indian shippers. It is going to be achieved by letting them
understand the list of criteria Indian shippers use in their carrier selection decisions and the
amount of importance they assign to each criterion during such decisions. The paper deals
with the subject matter in two stages. In the first stage, it explores the list of criteria and in
the second stage, it brings out the importance of each criterion.
The initial motivation of the paper was ignited by an article by Kent and Parker (1999).
In the article, they stated that the future containership carrier selection researches should
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