What is dimensional weight?
Dimensional weight, or volumetric weight, is a way for shipping carriers to make up cost for packages that are shipped in boxes that are light for their size. Since these packages are “wasting” space, they will be more expensive for shippers. Dimensional weight is measured by taking the volume of a packaged box (length x width x height), and dividing it by the Dimensional Weight Factor. What determines the Dimensional Weight Factor? They’re actually a preset number depending on whether your package is international or not.
One way the U.S. Postal Service is taking advantage of the FedEx and UPS changes is through Cubic Pricing. Cubic Pricing doesn’t factor weight, as long as your package weighs less than 20 lbs. and is .50 or fewer “cubic feet” in size. Essentially this means, if you ship smaller, very heavy packages, you can take advantage of Cubic Shipping. You can find the cubic feet of your box by using this formula:
Cubic Feet = Length x Width x Height / 1728
To also take advantage of the incoming Dimensional Weight changes, in September 2014 the U.S. Postal Service slashed prices on commercial Priority Mail rates to attract big e-commerce shippers in time for holiday free shipping.
Recognizing that prices were too high to be competitive on heavier weights, and to make an opportunity of the new Dimensional Weight policies, Priority Mail prices were reduced 30-50% in the weight categories most used by e-commerce shippers (6-20 lbs). E-commerce companies who can gain access to USPS Commercial Plus Pricing, like with ShippingEasy, stand to add to their bottom line this holiday season.
What this means for your E-commerce business
Shipping can kill margins. If you ship FedEx or UPS, you will feel the effects of these changes. It’s hard to negotiate rates and your dimensional factor with UPS/FedEx, they typically only grant those kinds of privileges to companies with massive shipping volume. It might be time to consider USPS as a shipping carrier for most of your packages as they offer a variety of shipping options that can lead to significant shipping cost reductions. They have options including:
- Flat Rate boxes that don’t measure package weight
- Cubic Shipping for very heavy, smaller packages
- Regional rate shipping for cheaper rates for packages that don’t travel far
Beyond that, you can get access to discounted rates through companies that have already negotiated rates on your behalf (hint: companies like ShippingEasy).
Don’t ignore the changes; they likely will impact you, no matter your business size.
Get a tape measure and keep it handy! To make sure you aren’t going to overpay for future shipping:
- Audit your boxes. Find the dimensional weight vs the actual weight.
- Don’t pay to ship air.
- Reduce the box size, eliminate void fill and convert to polymailers when appropriate.
- Renegotiate the DIM factor with your carrier
Use multicarrier shipping software that offers discounts, offers negotiated rates and lets you set shipping rules to take advantage of each carriers sweet spots.
Learn how to calculate the dimensional shipping cost of a box. It’s an easy calculation.
Step 1 – Weigh
Step 2 – Measure
Step 3 – Compare
Now that you understand the calculation, take the guess work out of it with ShippingEasy’s handy dimensional weight calculator.