What is dimensional weight and how is it calculated?

Dimensional weight is simply how freight or ground carriers, like Fedex or UPS, calculate the dimensional factor (volumetric weight) of what something should weigh versus the actual weight.  In 2015, both UPS and FEDEX made critical changes when determining the dimensional weight of a package.  Carriers now calculate dimensional weight based on the formula of multiplying the L x H x W of a package, then dividing by 139 (numbers in tenths, .2 or .5, are rounded up the nearest whole number).

Click here to view an online dimensional route calculator.

Who does dimensional weight affect?

If you’re in the product business, whether you’re shipping ecommerce orders to consumers or bulk to commercial customers you could be potentially be affected. We get this question all the time when providing ecommerce order fulfillment or bulk distribution of products.  If you properly address the dimensional weight of shipping your products, you can:

  • Create higher conversion rates with ecommerce when aligning the right shipping cost compared to the product
  • Reduce your shipping costs (through proper planning at the manufacturing level with your product packaging)
  • Increase your profitability for your business
  • Offer more competitive wholesale pricing because your shipping cost could be lower

B2C or B2B shipping and what to consider……

Shipping to the consumer

We have a client that ships out a case of food product to a consumer. Because the product packaging is larger with empty space, the products take up more volume in a box.  For example:

Case size: 10 x 12 x 15
Actual weight: 7lbs, average cost to ship based on actual weight: $12.54
Dimensional weight: 13lbs, Average cost to ship: $14.38

Ideally, the goal should be having the actual weight match your dimensional weight.  If you’re able to reconfigure packaging to accomplish this, you could possibly reduce the shipping cost to the customer as well as shipping from the manufacturer.

Shipping bulk wholesale

Another example of potential savings is similar to the one above but amplified. We have a client that ships out hairbrushes. The individual brush has it’s own product packaging for retail purposes. Then those brushes are packed in inner cartons or packs with special boxes for those, because that is their minimum selling unit.  Then those inner cartons go in a master carton. For example:

Master Carton size: 20 x 24 x18
Actual weight: 32 lbs, average cost to ship based on actual weight: $20.06
Dimensional weight: 63 lbs, average cost to ship: $28.36

That’s a difference of $8.30 per master carton. If you are shipping multiple master cartons, that can become a much larger number. If you were shipping them pallets or full containers, the concept is the same.

As an order fulfillment company providing eCommerce shipping, we frequently consult our clients on dimensional weight. We hope this helps you in your eCommerce product business to be more proactive in your business!

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