Optimize Your Shipping Budget by Knowing Dimensional Weight Shipping
You want to make every penny spent on shipping worthwhile right? Of course you do… because knowing the costs of shipping your products can save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars when you choose the best carrier along with the appropriate shipping options. There are many carriers to choose from today as well as a plethora of shipping options, deciding which is best for your business is the first step in saving lots of money. But calculating shipping costs can be confusing. What are the rules that carriers apply when they calculate the cost they pass on to you?
Carriers charge based on the “dimensional weight” of a package. Dimensional weight calculations reflect what it costs a carrier to ship an oversize, lighter-weight package and ensures that the carrier is getting paid appropriately for the space the packages take up on its planes or trucks. Dim weight calculations more precisely reflect what it costs a carrier to ship an oversize, lighter-weight package. To calculate the dimensional weight of a package, multiply (length in inches) x (width in inches) x (height in inches) to determine the cubic size of your package. For UPS and FedEx Ground shipments to the US, if the cubic inches exceed 5,184 inches or 3 cubic feet, dimensional weight rates will apply. If the total cubic inches measure less than 5,184 inches, then you typically use the actual rates for the weight of the package.
After you”ve calculated the cubic size of your package and determined that it’s 5,184 cubic inches or greater, you can calculate the dimensional weight by dividing the cubic size of your package by 194 for ground shipments within the U.S., rounding up to the nearest full pound. Keep in mind that dimensional weights are rounded up by the carriers.
Your billable weight will either be the actual weight or the dimensional weight of package–whichever is greater. That means if you ship lighter packages that are more than 3 cubic feet, you”ll pay more under the dimensional weight rate system.
For example say you have a box measuring 24” x 18” x 18” that weighs 50 lbs. and is to be shipped via UPS. The actual weight is 50 lbs.; dimensional weight = (24 x 18 x 18) /194 = 40.08 = 41 lbs. The dimensional factor = 194. The actual weight exceeds the dimensional weight. So the actual weight (50 lbs.) will be used as the chargeable weight for the shipment.
Now let’s say you have a box measuring 24” x 18” x 12” box that weighs 10 lbs. and will be shipped by FedEx. The actual weight is 10 lbs., the dimensional weight = (24 x 18 x 12)/194 = 26.7 = 27 lbs., the dimensional factor = 194. The dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight. So the dimensional weight (27 lbs.) will be used as the chargeable weight for the shipment.
For UPS and FedEx air-express shipments, the same dim calculation applies, but without the 3-cubic-ft. (5,184 inches) minimum.
What’s more, UPS and FedEx also add a $45 oversize charge for packages that measure more than 130 inches in length and circumference. (You can calculate this by adding the length of the package plus twice the height plus twice the width.)
If you can believe it, the dim rules for the Postal Service’s Priority Mail zones are a bit more complicated. For USPS zones 1 through 4, the minimum dim weight is 20 lbs. if the length plus the girth equals more than 84 inches, but less than 108 inches.
But there’s a different rule for Priority Mail zones 5 through 8. For those zones, if package volume is more than one cubic foot (1,728 cubic inches), divide the cubic inches (length x weight x height) by 194 to get the dim weight. It’s important to note, however, that all the Priority Mail and Flat Rate cartons provided by the USPS are excluded from the dim rules. That can be key for volume shippers.
USPS’s Parcel Post packages have different rules as well. There’s a 20-lb. minimum for these packages if the length plus girth is more than 84 inches but less than 108 inches. If the length plus girth is more than 108 inches but less than 130 inches, you have to use the USPS oversized rates, which vary by zone.
One last thing about dim weight: For the USPS, UPS and FedEx international packages, including UPS and FedEx ground shipments to Canada, the dim factor is 166 rather than 194.
You can go to each individual carriers website to get their specific costs or you can get a Shipwire Free Trial that will tell you in real time exactly what your shipping costs will be. Take advantage of Shipwire’s global network of warehouses – where you can move inventory closer to your buyers resulting in faster delivery times for your customers and LESS shipping cost to you and your business. Shipwire will even give you real-time shipping API‘s to install all our shipping rates in your shopping cart.