Spatial flow patterns can be classified as international, hinterland and hierarchical:
- International (trade) patterns occur between nations and include entities such as trading blocks (European Union, NAFTA) or dependent territories (colonialism). These flows mainly reflect the nature of the transactional environment. They can take place through networks such as for air and maritime transportation or be more diffused as for overland flows.
- Hinterland patterns generally occur between a service center (e.g. city or a transport terminal such as a port) and it’s market area. They are of a regional scale and reflect the organization of markets.
- Hierarchical patterns are mostly found within the industrial or commercial sectors and include distribution-related movements through a supply chain (from suppliers to customers). These flows reflect the spatial organization of distribution.