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Dimensional Weight and How It Affects Apparel Shipping Costs

Dimensional weight is a key phrase that shippers need to be acutely aware of. Packages are no longer priced based on their actual weight if they're particularly large and light. Dimensional weight calculations can leave you paying a premium for empty space in each box if you're not careful about your apparel shipping strategies.

Understanding Dimensional Weight


Dimensional weight applies a standardized minimum shipping weight to packages based on their size. If a package weighs more than its dimensional weight, the shipping cost is based on the actual weight. However, if it weighs less, shippers must pay for the dimensional weight rather than the actual weight.

Before carriers used dimensional weight, you could minimize your expenses simply by packing lightly, regardless of how big the box was. This left shipping companies at a disadvantage when they provided ample storage space for a box that was mostly packing peanuts and therefore very cheap to ship. Dimensional weight allows carriers to charge more appropriately for space that a package takes up.

How Shippers Calculate Dimensional Weight

FedEx and UPS apply dimensional weight calculations to all packages. To determine the dimensions of a package, you multiply the height, width, and length. To get the package's dimensional weight, you then divide this number by 139. If the package is less than one cubic foot in size and shipped via UPS, the divisor is 166.

Performing this calculation will yield a package's dimensional weight. Carriers round your weight up to the nearest pound, so a package with a dimensional weight of 4.1 pounds is priced as though it were 5 pounds.

How This Impacts Shippers

In January 2017, the dimensional divisor changed from 166 to 139, making it more expensive to ship lightweight boxes. This puts a new premium on space. If the trend continues, the prices for a box's dimensions may continue to go up. Many companies offer free shipping as an incentive for their online shoppers. Ninety percent of today's consumers cite free shipping as their top incentive to shop online, so it's critical for internet retailers to keep pace with this trend even as dimensional weight is making it increasingly difficult.

How to Respond to Dimensional Weight Challenges

If you're paying for the dimensional weight of your apparel packages rather than their actual weight, it's important to work closely with your 3PL company to find creative ways to minimize the size of your packages. Consider sleeker apparel packaging that conforms to the exact size and shape of the product and doesn't take up any additional space.

Analyze your packaging strategies. Are you fitting as many items as possible into each box? This can work out a bit like a Tetris game, making sure your products fit together efficiently to use all possible space. Smart packaging can make a big difference in your dimensional weight.

Are you looking for an experienced apparel 3PL company to help you tackle the challenges of dimensional weight? Get a free consultation from The Apparel Logistics Group to find out how you can streamline your shipping and trim expenses as much as possible.

Posted: 4/12/2017 2:02:25 PM by Global Administrator | with 0 comments


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