Understand the essentials of DIM weight and how it works, plus how DIM weight affects the home decor, sporting goods, and toys industries.
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DIM weight, (also known as dimensional weight or volumetric weight), is a pricing strategy utilized by shipping companies to protect their profits when handling low-weight shipments. Shipping carriers calculate a package’s DIM weight and compare it to the actual weight of the package and will use the larger of the two to determine the actual billable shipping weight they’ll charge a customer.
DIM Weight Shipping—How Do You Calculate DIM Weight in Pounds?
DIM weight is calculated by taking the volume of a package and then dividing it by the shipping carrier’s dimensional weight divisor.
So, what does that mean exactly? Here’s a quick breakdown of how to calculate DIM weight in pounds:
Step #1: Measure the length, width, and height of the package in inches.
TIP: When measuring, use the longest point on each side AND be sure to account for bulges and misshaped sides.
Step #2: Using the formula below, multiply the package measurements from Step #1 to calculate the volume or cubic size of the package .
FORMULA: Volume = Length x Width x Height
Package Length: 25”
Package Width: 15”
Package Height: 15”
Volume Calculation: 25” x 15” x 15” = 5,625 cubic inches
TIP: Keep in mind that the majority of carriers will round the package measurements to the nearest whole number. For instance, if the package’s width is 15.50” or above, it would get rounded up to 16”. If it is 15.49” or below, then it would round down to 15”.
Step #3: Once the volume of the package is known, then the final dimensional weight calculation can be performed. Dimensional weight shipping carriers typically use the same formula to calculate DIM weight which takes the volume of a package and divides it by the shipping carrier’s DIM weight divisor (also known as a dim factor).
Check out the DIM weight formula below along with the example demonstrating this final step in the DIM weight calculation.
FORMULA: Dimensional Weight = Package Volume ÷ DIM Weight Divisor
Package Volume (from Step #2): 5,625 cubic inches
DIM Weight Divisor: 166
Dimensional Weight Calculation: 5,625 ÷ 166 = 33.8855 … Which will get
rounded up to 34 pounds.
TIP: The DIM weight divisor varies by carrier, so be sure to compare dimensional
weight pricing before making a final decision.
Step #4: Now that the dimensional weight is known, the last step is to calculate the actual weight of the package. Once the actual weight is known, compare the dimensional weight vs. actual weight. Whichever is larger is what will be used to charge for shipping.
Some shipping carriers may provide access to a DIM weight calculator so customers can get an idea of their dimensional shipping costs through that carrier.
Looking for a fulfillment company to help with DIM weight? eFulfillment Service can lower costs for ecommerce merchants by offering the best dimensional shipping weight to our clients. Check out our Dimensional Weight Shipping Calculator along with examples that demonstrate the savings our clients receive shipping with us compared to other third-party logistics (3PL) providers.
Dimensional Weight Rates: How They Affect the Sporting Goods, Home Decor, & Toy Industries
According to IBISWorld, the market size of the Sporting Goods Stores industry in the U.S. has grown 3% per year on average between 2018 and 2023. More demand means more opportunity to take advantage of sporting goods sales.
Most sporting goods products tend to be bulky, which means that they occupy a considerable amount of space on a delivery truck or cargo container. As carriers charge according to either actual weight or DIM weight (whichever is larger) this can result in higher expenses for sellers when shipping their products. That’s why it’s important for sellers to keep dimensional pricing in mind when shipping certain products for online order fulfillment. Size and product weight need to be considered before packaging products for transportation. By doing so, internet retailers can optimize the use of space and prevent any unnecessary charges related to DIM weight.
Here’s a list of sporting good products that may be affected by dimensional weight:
- Fishing poles
- Hockey sticks
- Bicycle frames
- Racquetball + tennis rackets
- Sleeping bags
In the home decor industry, dimensional weight plays an essential role. It affects shipping costs and can lead to higher prices for customers. As products like furniture, paintings, and large decor items take up more space in packaging, their dimensional weight increases. So, that means larger yet lightweight products can become costlier to ship due to their size rather than their actual weight, leading to challenges for businesses looking to meet customer demands without increasing prices beyond reasonable margins.
Therefore, internet retailers have to strike a balance between providing excellent quality while keeping costs affordable during transportation by using better packing materials or more compact designs for larger items.
Merchants should be aware of all aspects of dimensional weight pricing. It’s true, not every shipping carrier calculates DIM weight in the same manner. eFulfillment Service offers clients the benefit of our DIM weight discounts, which sets us apart from many other fulfillment centers in the industry.
Here are some example home decor products commonly affected by DIM weight:
- Lamps/lamp shades
- Outside deck cushions
- Trash cans
- Fake plants
- Bean bag chairs
Within the toy industry, DIM weight plays a significant role affecting both manufacturers and online merchants in different ways. For manufacturers, dimensional weight impacts the cost of shipping products to retailers and distributors. Shipping rates are calculated based on both the actual weight and size of the package, which means that larger or bulkier toys will incur higher shipping costs. This creates a dilemma for manufacturers who want to create eye-catching packaging for their products but don’t want to sacrifice profits due to increased shipping fees.
On the other hand, internet retailers may utilize dimensional weight calculations as a factor in deciding which toys to carry in-store or online, as they aim to optimize profit margins by stocking more lightweight and compact items that have lower associated shipping costs. Consequently, even seemingly small design decisions can impact toy sales and profitability thanks to dimensional weight considerations.
Examples of toys affected by dimensional weight:
- Dollhouse furniture
- Giant teddy bear
- Large plastic toys
- Giant foam building blocks
- Outdoor plastic playset
- Outdoor plastic basketball hoop
- Cornhole board/game set
- Plastic teeter totter seesaw
- Inflatable bouncer castle
Example of Products Affected by DIM Weight
|Product Dimensions||Actual Weight (pounds)||DIM Weight||eFS DIM Weight||DIM Weight Savings|
|Sporting Goods||Bicycle||43" x 11" x 32"||25 lbs||109 lbs||55 lbs||-54 lbs|
|Backpack||19.5" x 13.25" x 6.75"||2.6 lbs||13 lbs||7 lbs||-6 lbs|
|Sleeping Bag||18" x 13" x 10"||6 lbs||17 lbs||9 lbs||-8 lbs|
|Home Decor||Outdoor Plastic Planter||14” x 14” x 11”||1.6 lbs||16 lbs||8 lbs||-8 lbs|
|Outdoor Metal Gecko Wall Decor||23” x 1” x 35”||3 lbs||6 lbs||3 lbs||-3 lbs|
|Canvas Wall Art||60” x 36” x 2”||11.8 lbs||32 lbs||16 lbs||-16 lbs|
|Toys||Building Blocks||8 x 16 x 8||4 lbs||8 lbs||4 lbs||-4 lbs|
|Truck Playset||16 x 6 x 5||2.3 lbs||4 lbs||3 lbs||-1 lbs|
|Toy Kitchen Set||23.6 x 11.8 x 37.8||17.64 lbs||76 lbs||38 lbs||-38 lbs|
eFulfillment Service DIM Weight Shipping—How to Save $$$$ During the Holidays
eFulfillment Service clients benefit from our expertise and the expertise of our various partners. Our friends at RBC Custom Packaging recently shared how their design insights helped cut material costs for Metropolis Goods (an online retailer of women’s goods).
Check out this case study to learn more!
FAQs: DIM Weight Basics
What does dimensional weight mean in shipping?
ANSWER: Dimensional weight, also referred to as DIM weight or volumetric weight, represents the total space a package takes up during transport. When shipping a package, carriers compare the dimensional weight of a package to its actual weight and charge customers for shipping based on whichever is greater.
Why use DIM weight?
ANSWER: Shipping carriers use DIM weight to ensure they don’t lose money on lightweight packages. By using rates that are based on dimensional weight, shipping carriers can effectively optimize the utilization of their vehicles, fuel, etc. This approach takes into account the total amount of space that a package occupies rather than solely focusing on its weight. This is because, even if an item doesn’t weigh much, if it takes up a significant amount of space, it will cost more for the carrier to ship.
For example, consider a truck parked at a warehouse loading up a shipment of 15 bulky packages that each weigh one pound. Billed by actual weight, that truckload would only be worth the same amount as a 15 pound bag of rice. Whereas a truck filled with 15 pound bags of rice would be very cost-effective because hundreds of them could fit in the truck when stacked up side by side.
How do you get DIM weight?
Simply put, the dimensional weight of a package can be determined by the following formula:
DIM Weight = Package Volume ÷ DIM Weight Divisor.
What that means is … Multiply the length, width and height of the package in inches (making sure to use the longest point on each side) to find the package volume (aka the cubic size). Then, divide the package volume by the shipping carrier’s DIM weight divisor to find the DIM weight of the package.
What is DIM weight vs. actual weight?
ANSWER: DIM weight refers to the amount of space a package occupies. This is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of the package and dividing it by a dimensional weight divisor (which varies by service, carrier, and shipping speed).
On the other hand, actual weight is the precise weight of the product (including the packaging). Finding the actual weight of a package is simple—weigh it on a scale.
Shipping carriers compare DIM weight vs. actual weight and use whichever is higher to calculate the shipping rates for a package.
How does FedEx calculate DIM weight?
ANSWER: FedEx calculates DIM weight using a DIM factor of 139 when measuring in inches and 5,000 when measuring in centimeters. Below are the formulas used by FedEx to calculate dimensional weight.
Length x Height x Width (in inches) ÷ 139
Length x Height x Width (in centimeters) ÷ 5,000