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One major factor in the pricing of shipments is dimensional weight. Whether you ship orders yourself or work with a third-party logistics (3PL) partner, you will likely encounter this pricing technique. Read on to learn more about dimensional weight and how it affects pricing.
What is dimensional weight?
Dimensional weight, also called DIM weight, is a pricing technique used for commercial freight transfer, including courier and postal services. Dimensional weight is computed by multiplying length times width times height.
Since the amount of space on a delivery truck is limited, dimensional weight takes into account package density to determine shipping rates. So even if you have a lightweight package, it could be worth it to calculate DIM.
Freight carriers like USPS, Fedex, or UPS calculate shipping charges based on whichever number is greater: the actual weight of the package or its calculated dimensional weight. Whichever is higher becomes your billable weight.
DIM weight calculators by carrier
Each carrier calculates DIM weight different. Below you’ll find up to date dimensional weight calculators for FedEx, UPS, and USPS.
Note: If you are a ShipBob customer, please refer to our Help Center documentation here.
How to calculate dimensional weight (DIM weight)?
To calculate dimensional (DIM) weight, multiply the length, width, and height of a package, using the longest point on each side. Then, divide the cubic size of the package in inches by the DIM divisor to calculate the dimensional weight in pounds.
Note: For non-square packages, you would take the longest dimension on each side and round up.
Steps to calculate dimensional weight
1. Measure the length, width, and height of a package, using the longest point on each side. These measurements should take into account any bulges or misshapen sides, as irregularities can incur special handling fees if not incorporated into the initial calculations for dimensional weight.
2. When calculating dimensional weight, most shipping carriers request that you round up to the nearest whole number.
3. Next, multiply those package dimensions to get the cubic size of the package. For example, if your package is 30 inches by 12 inches by 12 inches, your package size is the product of these three measurements multiplied: 4,320 cubic inches.
4. Finally, the cubic size of the package is divided by a dimensional factor, also called a DIM divisor. DIM divisors are numbers set by the major freight carriers, such as UPS and FedEx. These factors represent cubic inches per pound.
The current DIM divisor used by FedEx, for example, for both domestic and international shipments is 139 cubic inches per pound. Using our example above, you would divide 4,320 by 139 to get a dimensional weight of 31 pounds. Here’s how a shipping carrier would charge for the package in this example:
- If the actual weight of the package is less than 31 pounds (e.g., 29 pounds), the freight carrier will charge for the dimensional weight of 31 pounds since it is the greater number.
- If the actual weight of the package is more than 31 pounds (e.g., 33 pounds), dimensional weight pricing will be based on the actual weight, not the dimensional weight, since they charge for the greater number.
We hope this article gives you some helpful insight into the world of shipping costs. If you’re uninterested in the hassles and expenses of self-fulfillment, you might need a 3PL.
At ShipBob, we price our fulfillment services as simply and straightforwardly as possible with no hidden fees or nasty surprises when your bill arrives, and we negotiate and compare rates among all major carriers.
“ShipBob supplies a range of standard box sizes, but because some of our products have such unusual dimensions, some of our shipments were being sent out with lots of empty space, leading to higher shipping costs. ShipBob provided us with an in-depth analysis based on our order history and helped us understand which custom box sizes we should stock ourselves at ShipBob warehouses to help reduce our costs.”
Learn more about how partnering with a modern ecommerce fulfillment company can help you more strategically ship orders, and get tips for choosing a fulfillment partner. Download “How to Choose a 3PL for Your Ecommerce Business.”
Dimensional Weight FAQs
Read some of the most frequently asked questions about sending packages using dimensional weight.
1. When do the revised dimensional weight calculations become effective?
2. What is volumetric weight and how is it calculated?
Volumetric weight is an alternative term for dimensional weight. Like DIM weight, it is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of a package, then dividing by a DIM divisor to calculate the dimensional weight in pounds.Freight carriers utilize the higher weight between actual weight and volumetric weight to calculate shipping costs.