As an ecommerce merchant, one of your biggest operational expenses are shipping costs. In the past, those costs were based on the total weight of a package. But since 2015 the majority of carriers and logistics companies have based shipping charges on a package’s “dimensional weight, or DIM weight.

Dimensional weight can have a big impact on your final shipping cost. Understanding how it is calculated and making small adjustments to your shipping process could help you save a lot of money.

What is dimensional weight?
DIM weight, also known as volumetric weight, takes into account the density of your package to calculate the shipping costs. Carriers are essentially considering the amount of space that your package will take in their truck or plane, rather than your package’s actual weight.

Imagine a large box filled with feathers. Although it is considerably lighter than a smaller box filled with rocks, it might end up being more expensive to ship than the box of rocks because of how much larger it is.

How do I calculate Dimensional Weight?
The formula to calculate the DIM weight of a package based on its size is:

Dimensional Weight = (Length x Width x Height) ÷ Divisor  

The divisor varies based on the carrier you select and your package’s destination.
GlobalPost uses a DIM factor of 139 for packages to Canada, and 166 for all other international destinations.

For example, let’s say your box is 12 inches x 20 inches x 20 inches, and you’re shipping it to France.
(12 x 20 x 20) ÷ 166 =  28.9. The DIM weight of your package is 29 pounds.

If the actual weight of your package is less than 29 pounds (e.g. 25 lbs), you will be billed for 29 pounds
If the package is heavier than the DIM weight (e.g. 31 lbs), you will be billed for 31 lbs.

You can see how impactful DIM weight can be to your bottom line. As a shipper, you want to ensure than whenever possible, the dimensional weight of your package falls below its actual physical weight.

How can I reduce the DIM weight (and shipping costs) of my packages?
Dimensional weight can be reduced by making your packages smaller. You should attempt to package your goods in the smallest box you can (safely) use.

Look at your product portfolio and consider whether you have the right box for each product. If the goods you sell vary in size, but you use a single size box for every shipment, you could very well be paying more than you need.

You could also consider removing the goods from their original factory box and repackaging them in a smaller box.

Finally, look at your wrapping materials. Is there a way to safely replace bulky fillers with thinner ones? This could allow you to use a smaller box for your shipment.

Feel free to contact GlobalPost if you have any questions. We hope this article helped you better understand dimensional weight and gave you some ideas on how to potentially reduce your shipping costs.
Let us help you with your shipping needs.