In Parcel Shipping, Size Matters


In Parcel Shipping, Size Matters

Well, size does matter but it’s more about how you use it!

Since 2015, both UPS and FedEx apply dimensional weight to every package moving through their respective systems. To understand this, let’s say you had a box that was 18 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 16 inches tall. You then fill it with light packaging material and a single pencil. The box (packed) weighs about a pound, but according to dimensional weight, this box weighs 32 lbs. Needless to say, the carriers will rate the package and charge you based on the higher weight.

To put this in perspective lets use the most recent UPS published rates to see the difference in cost between the actual weight in the case above and the dimensional weight. If you are charged based on the actual weight to ship a 1lb. package to Zone 5, it will cost $7.67. Using Dimensional Weight, however, it will cost $20.40! The only thing making this shipment weigh more than 1 lb. is the size of the box.

So this is where it is clear that size matters! You have to use a box, of course, and the box has dimensions; but you should be sure you are using the right-sized box for the items that you are shipping. This is the “how you use it” part!



To help with this, create a table like the example below including your most common box sizes, so that you know how the carriers are going to assign dimensional weight to them. You can use our DIM Calculator to help with this. Next, evaluate what you typically ship in each box to ensure the content of the each box weighs the same or more than the dimensional weights the carrier will charge you.

You may find that everything is working out as it should, or your may find that you need to make some changes. In this case, small changes (to right-sized boxes) can reap very big savings!

LengthWidthHeightDim FactorCalculationDimensional Weight
18 in.18 in.16 in.166(18X18X16)/16632 lbs.
121212166(12X12X12)/16611 lbs.
10108166(10X10X8/1664 lbs.
666166(6X6X6)/1662 lbs.