What is Dimensional Weight? More than Just Pounds.

The dimensional factor varies between shipping companies

  • Written by Alex Dolce
  • Published on August 15, 2023
  • Time to read 9 minutes


Millions of packages are shipped daily, but how are those packages’ costs calculated? While weight alone has been the main factor for calculating shipping costs in the past, dimensional weight has changed the game. In this blog, we’ll look into dimensional weight and explore what it is, why it matters, and how it affects businesses and consumers.

What is Dimensional Weight?

At first glance, this metric might seem like a complex calculation. However, it’s actually a simple concept. Dimensional weight, also known as DIM weight or volumetric weight, is a method used by shipping companies to assess the space a package occupies during transit. 

• The formula for calculating dimensional weight is: 

» (Length x Width x Height) / Dimensional Factor.

The dimensional factor varies between shipping companies. We will address that factor later, but let’s see why the calculation matters. 

So, Why Does It Matter?

Understanding dimensional weight is crucial, as it can add to extra shipping costs. For example, a large but lightweight package might be 5 pounds but has a DIM weight of 20 pounds. Shipping costs will be based on the higher dimensional weight.

For carriers, businesses, and consumers, volumetric weight has an impact.  

• Firstly, for carriers, lightweight packages with large dimensions take up valuable space in shipping vehicles. 

• Secondly, optimizing packaging is vital for businesses to reduce shipping costs. A well-packaged product helps minimize dimensional weight (and the costs that come with it) and the risk of returns and damages. Therefore, it can get to customers safely.

• Finally, the knowledge of dimensional weight can influence purchasing decisions for consumers. Shipping costs may vary significantly depending on the size and weight of products people order. Therefore, consumers need to be aware of the potential impact on their wallets.

So, now that you know how DIM weights are essential to you, your shipping carriers, and your consumers, let’s go over how you can calculate them. This will help you maximize your packaging and lower shipping costs.

How to Calculate

Methods for measuring a package for dimensional weight are shown

Here’s a step-by-step guide to calculating dimensional weight:

  1. Measure the Package: Use a measuring tape or ruler to measure the package’s length, width, and height in inches or centimeters. Round off each measurement to the nearest whole number.
  2. Multiply the Dimensions: Multiply the length, width, and height together to get the total volume of the package in cubic inches (or cubic centimeters).
  3. Divide by the Dimensional Factor: Divide the total volume by the dimensional factor provided by the shipping carrier. This will give you the dimensional weight in pounds (or kilograms if the dimensional factor is in cubic centimeters).
  4. Compare with Actual Weight: Compare the dimensional weight with the package’s actual weight. The shipping cost will be based on whichever weight is higher—actual or dimensional.
  5. Round-Up: Some carriers may round up the dimensional weight to the nearest whole number, which could impact the final shipping cost.

All in all, calculating dimensional weight accurately can help businesses and individuals plan their shipping strategies. That way, packages are cost-effective, and transportation is efficient. Remember that different carriers may have different dimensional weight calculation methods. They may also have different DIM factors (as seen in the formula), so let’s review them.

What is the Dimensional (DIM) Factor?

The dimensional (DIM) factor is a constant used in the dimensional weight formula. It represents the density of packages in a shipping vehicle. Different shipping companies use different dimensional factors. Additionally, dimensional factors, such as inches and centimeters, differ between measurement units, adding to the complexity.

DIM Factors for Major Carriers

Here are some of the DIM factor numbers for the major carriers:

  1. UPS Ground: 139
  2. FedEx Ground: 139
  3. UPS Express: 139
  4. FedEx Express:139
  5. USPS Priority/Express/Parcel: 166

So, what can you do to make dimensional weight the least worrisome?

Tips to Manage Dimensional Weight

It is essential to make efforts to minimize dimensional weight. That way, you not only save on your packaging but also overall shipping costs. To help with this, here are some practical tips for both businesses and consumers:

  1. Invest in packaging optimization tools and techniques. For example, you could use box-sizing software, which calculates the smallest box size for the dimensions and weight of products that must be shipped.
  2. Utilize shipping calculators to estimate shipping costs accurately. eHub’s shipping calculator is a great tool to do this.
  3. Consider using smaller packaging without compromising product safety.
  4. Work with shipping partners to understand their dimensional factors and requirements.

Using these tips, you can better set yourself up for success regarding shipping costs and your packaging overall. 

Final Thoughts:

Dimensional weight has become a critical factor in modern shipping, especially as it is a big piece in businesses and consumers navigating complex shipping costs. Understanding and managing dimensional weight is essential, as it helps create cost-effective and sustainable shipping practices. 

By embracing packaging innovation and eco-friendly solutions, you not only create efficient shipping but more environmentally friendly shipping as well. So, keep dimensional weight in mind the next time you send or receive a package. It might save you a lot in the long run.

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