Shipping & Fulfillment

How to Reduce Parcel DIM Weights

Have you ever wondered why your shipping costs are sometimes higher than expected? One of the reasons could be the dimensional weight of your packages. If any outbound shipments involve cartons larger than one cubic foot (length x width x height exceeds 1,728 cubic inches), you may be wasting money on excessive dimensional (DIM) weight charges.

This article explains DIM weights and how to reduce them to save on shipping costs.

DIM Weights

Dimensional weight is a pricing method used by shipping carriers to calculate the billing weight of a parcel instead of its actual weight. It’s a way for carriers to charge for the space your package takes up in their trucks and planes regardless of its actual weight.

To calculate, multiply your parcel’s length x width x height in inches and divide that total by 139 for UPS, FedEx, and DHL ground shipments or 166 for USPS Priority Mail shipments.

For example, an 18 x 18 x 18 box that actually weighs 10 pounds equals 5,832 cubic inches which divided by 139 equals a 42-pound DIM weight. Or, for USPS parcel post shipments, the DIM weight would be 5,832 divided by 166, which equals 35 pounds. In both cases, if the DIM weight is greater than the actual weight, it becomes the billable weight.

A DIM weight calculation starts with a parcel’s size. These parcels are 216 cubic inches (3 x 12 x 6, at left) and 720 cubic inches (10 x 12 x 6). Source: eFulfillment Service.

Reducing DIM Weights

Reducing DIM weights is essential for merchants and consumers. By lowering your packages’ DIM weights, you can:

• Save on shipping costs.
• Offer more competitive prices to your customers.
• Lower your carbon footprint by using less packaging material.

There are several ways to reduce DIM weights without compromising the quality of a shipment.

Choose the correct box sizes. If you fulfill orders in-house, maintain a wide range of larger stock cartons to select the smallest option for your item. At my fulfillment center, we stock 22 standard sizes, for example.

Minimize package dimensions. Think about the arrangement of items in the box. Try to reduce the package dimensions by rearranging the items or using custom-shaped packaging. Take the time to fold, flatten, stack, consolidate, vacuum seal, or otherwise minimize the required carton size.

Consolidate shipments. Combine multiple orders into a single shipment whenever possible. This will help reduce the overall DIM weight of the packages and save money on shipping costs.

Select a shipping service with a larger DIM weight divisor. When possible, use a shipping service with a larger DIM divisor to reduce the impact of package dimensions on shipping costs. For example, the USPS divisor is 166 compared to 139 for UPS, FedEx, and DHL. For an 18 x 18 x 18 carton, that’s a DIM weight of 42 vs. 35. Alternatively, ask your fulfillment provider to assign a higher DIM divisor along with discounted ship rates. Again, the higher the divisor number, the lower the calculated DIM weight.

Q & A

• What is DIM weight? Dimensional weight is a pricing method used by shipping carriers to calculate the billable weight of a parcel vs. its actual weight.
• Why is it important to reduce DIM weights? Reducing DIM weights helps save on shipping costs, offers more competitive prices to customers, and lowers the environmental impact of shipments.
• What are strategies for reducing DIM weights? Choose the correct box sizes, optimize package contents, consolidate shipments, and increase the DIM divisor.
• Can reducing DIM weights improve customer satisfaction? Yes. Reducing DIM weights and lowering shipping costs allows for more competitive prices, increasing customer satisfaction.
• How can I continuously reduce DIM weights? If you fulfill in-house, stock a broad range of carton sizes, train your staff to minimize wasted carton volume, and use higher DIM divisors when possible. If you outsource, ask your fulfillment provider to assign a higher DIM divisor.
John Lindberg