Update: Be sure to check out our latest post with recent updates to dimensional weight, and a link to a newer dim weight calculator.

By now you are probably well aware that UPS and FedEx’s new dimensional weight policies have resulted in one of the largest cumulative shipping fee increases ever! Yikes! Though the policies have been in place for almost a year, we know many of our customers have been busy with the day-to-day excitement of running a business and are still wondering – what should I do about these dimensional weight policies? If you are not 100% confident in your answer, read on!  We hope this summary will help you on your way.

What Is Dimensional Weight?
First, let’s get geeky with the math. Dimensional weight is a basic formula carriers use to account for the size of your shipping packages instead of just the weight.

To get your “dim weight,” first determine your package dimension in inches. For each dimension, measure your package at the longest point, rounding each side to the nearest whole number (1.49 would be 1, 1.50 to 1.99 would be 2).

Your dim weight for UPS or FedEx = (length x width x height)/166…..rounded up to the nearest whole number. For exports and imports, divide by 139 instead of 166.

Why 166 for UPS and FedEx’s domestic shipments? Who knows?! “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change….” So, a box measuring 20” x 16” x 5” would have a calculated dimensional weight of 10 lbs.

When carriers consider dim weight in calculating shipping costs, they look at the actual weight and the dim weight and take the larger of the two. So if you are shipping a 5 lb product in this 20” x 16” x 5” box, the carrier would charge you for 10 lbs. At the start of 2015, all UPS and FedEx ground service packages became subject to dimensional weight rating with no minimum volume threshold.

WHAT?!? Redonculous you say!? We won’t comment.  We simply try to report the facts here at EcoEnclose…and keep our deep, dark, opinionations between us and our shipping supplies.

So…what is a dedicated, passionate, business owner or shipping manager to do?
Look at the bright side, and be thankful you are not shipping clouds, helium filled balloons, or marshmallows! These light weight, high volume items have taken the biggest hit…Then, follow these six tips on how to keep dimensional weight from weighing you down.
Assess the damage. Do your own internal calculations. This seems obvious, but we’re all busy – it’s easy to overlook it while fighting the daily fires. Compare your 2014 versus 2015 shipping costs as a percent of your sales. Do not use absolute costs because this will overstate the impact if your company is growing. Have the new dimensional weight policies made things more expensive for you and/or your customers? By how much?  This will give you a sense how much effort to invest in this.
Cut the fat: The eco lover in us has a hard time not getting excited about this one that encourages all of us to minimize our packaging! Look at your boxes – Are they the right size for your product? Can they be smaller? Can you pack things differently? Can you use less cushion? At EcoEnclose, we make it affordable for you to create a box that fits perfectly around your product. We literally have over 1,000,000 combinations of box types and sizes…made from 100% recycled and recyclable materials. Check them out here.
Choose the right carrier: Good old Uncle Sam has tried to keep things affordable for us! Though recent announcement suggest this may change in 2016. Take advantage while you still can! While UPS and FedEx made dimensional weight pricing the norm for all products, USPS applies this policy in select scenarios, and uses a divisor of 194 instead of 166. Priority Mail and First Class Mail may be cheaper and quicker than UPS and FedEx’s ground options. Regularly compare shipping rates across carriers. Click here for a great cost comparison tool.
Think mailers, not boxes: You don’t want your friends to be squares, so why demand it of your packages? Mailers can significantly reduce shipping costs and they work for a variety of different products. If the package is lighter than 13 ounces, it may qualify for USPS First Class Mail. Poly mailers are durable, and offer great weather protection.  Our gripe: they are typically made from virgin plastic.  But let Eco make you a hero! Choose EcoEnclose’s industry leading mailers made with 100% recycled contentPadded paper mailers are also a great, inexpensive, sustainable option to consider.
Knock knock…the door might just open.  If your volumes are increasing, be bullish! Negotiate with your potential carriers to see if you can’t reduce your rates, your dimensional weight divisor, or potentially set your shipping rates based on weight only. Rumor has it that larger or rapidly growing businesses have been successful with these tactics. Also, be sure to find out if any industry professional association you are part of provides member discounts with any carrier. These can get you up to 50% discounts on shipping!
Manage those pesky returns. Again, our passion for minimizing waste makes it hard not to love this one! Make it easy for your customers to make returns in the original box. If you are paying for return shipping, this will help manage your costs since you’ve already selected the right package for your product. If left to their own devices, your customers might just grab whatever huge box is at arms’ length and convenient to return your product in. Our eco-friendly poly mailers all have dual adhesive strips, making them easy for customers to reuse for returns, before they are then happily recycled!
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