Millions of packages are shipped per day, 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 take a look into dimensional weight, and explore what it is, why it matters, and how it affects both 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 for now, 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 have 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 for businesses, optimizing packaging is vital to reduce shipping costs. A well-packaged product helps minimizes dimensional weight (and costs that come with it), as well as the risk of returns and damages. Therefore, it can get to customers safely.

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

So, now that you know the ways DIM weights are important to you, your shipping carriers, and your consumer, let’s go over how you can calculate them. This will help you make the most of your packaging and lower shipping costs.


How to Calculate

An close up photo is shown of an individual measuring a cardboard shipping box.

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


  1. Measure the Package: Use a measuring tape or ruler to measure the length, width, and height of the package 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 actual weight of the package. The shipping cost will be based on whichever weight is higher—either the actual weight or the dimensional weight.
  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 also may have different DIM factors (as you may have seen in the formula), so let’s go over 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 differ between measurement units, such as inches and centimeters, further 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 important 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 need to 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.

By using these tips, you can better set yourself up for success when it comes to 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. It is important to understand and manage dimensional weight, 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, the next time you send or receive a package, keep dimensional weight in mind. It might save you a lot in the long run.

If you would like help finding a fulfillment partner/3PL that specializes in HAZMAT reach out to our Fulfillment Consultants and we can place you with a vetted fulfillment partner.


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