Advanced Packaging

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The Importance of Understanding Dimensional Weight

When you think of the cost to ship your package, what factors do you think of? You are probably thinking that you are getting charged for the weight and size of your package – which is correct! But did you know that you will get charged the dimensional (DIM) weight price over the actual weight of your package if the DIM weight is a higher value? If not, continuing reading for an in-depth explanation on DIM weight and how it affects your shipping cost.  

What is Dimensional (DIM) Weight? 

DIM weight is the amount of space a package occupies in relation to its actual weight while in transit. It is a formula used by major shipping and freight companies to calculate shipping costs, known as dimensional weight pricing. Customers are charged for the DIM weight, rather than the actual weight, if the DIM value is higher or vice versa. In simple terms, DIM weight is concerned with the package’s volume while actual weight reflects the heaviness of a package.  

How to Calculate DIM Weight: 

To calculate DIM weight, all you need is the length, width, and height of your package in inches and the correct DIM factor/divisor for the carrier you are using.  

  1. Measure your package to determine the length, width, and height in inches. Multiply these three values to determine the cubic size of your package.  
  2. Divide the cubic size by the correct DIM factor to determine the DIM weight value in pounds. The final value should be rounded up to the next whole pound. The DIM factor represents the cubic inch per pound of the package – the set number varies depending on the shipping method and carrier you are using.  
    • DIM Factors for Major Carriers
      • FedEx, UPS and DHL Express: 139 
      • DHL eCommerce and USPS: 166 
  3. Compare the actual weight of the package to its DIM weight – the larger value of the 2 will determine the billable weight.  

An infographic on how to calculate dimensional weight


Why is Dimensional Weight Important? 

While dimensional weight should be considered for all packages being shipped – it is particularly important for small package shipping. There are probably many instances you can think of where you receive a small, lightweight item in an unnecessarily large box. In instances like this, the company pays a premium for the amount of space the package occupies while in transit – even though it may be significantly lightweight.  

Understanding the differences between the billable weights of the DIM weight and actual weight could save a company thousands of dollars in shipping costs. When choosing your shipping container, carefully consider the size; decreasing your box size by just a few inches can result in big cost savings and therefore positively impact your bottom line.   


  • Your shipping fee is based on the dimensional weight or the actual weight, whichever is greater. 
  • Essentially, dimensional weight holds you accountable for properly packaging your products. If you do not – you will pay a premium.  
  • Dimensional weight pricing is here to stay – as eCommerce continues to skyrocket, shipping carriers must be considerate of the space available in their trucks, planes, etc. 
  • Optimizing your packaging can result in reduced shipping costs. 
  • Eliminating unnecessary packaging serves as a contribution to a sustainable future, not only because less material is being wasted but also because less packaging = lower fuel emissions. 

Looking to compare your actual weight to your dimensional weight? Try out our calculator! 

All values are rounded up to the nearest whole number*
Advanced Packaging Solutions & Products
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Summerville, SC 29483
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