Most parcel shipping carriers have altered their method of calculating the weight of packages shipped and, by extension, the price the shipper pays. In 2014, major shipping carriers announced a dimensional weight pricing model, commonly called DIM, for air and ground parcel shipping services. For several years, carriers charged shippers the greater amount between actual weight and DIM weight. The rules for DIM weight, however, have become stricter and ever increasing – creating financial consequences for shippers.
The DIM model is based on a formula which establishes a minimum charge for the cubic space a package occupies. Dimensional weight price calculations are comprised of three fundamental components: the size of the shipping box, the box’s actual weight and the object inside the box. For instance, UPS and FedEx both announced that starting in 2015, shipping charges on all shipments (air and ground) will be determined by the greater value of the following: the actual weight of the parcel or the dimensional weight.
HOW TO CALCULATE DIMENSIONAL WEIGHT IN 2017
The United States Postal Service (USPS) uses this DIM weight formula: Length x Width x Height divided by 194, rounded up. (The USPS formula applies to Priority Mail parcels and packages traveling more than 1,000 miles from their point of origin.) In comparison, starting January 2, 2017, FedEx’s DIM weight formula will divide Length x Width x Height by 139. This will be the third time FedEx has adjusted its formula (previous dividers: 199,166). UPS has also announced that it will be changing its dimensional pricing rules similar to FedEx. Effective January 8, the UPS dimensional divisor will be reduced from 166 to 139 for all packages over one cubic foot, or 1728 cubic inches. Packages below this threshold will continue to be subject to the current UPS dimensional weight factor of 166.
Today, it is no longer economically sound for a shipper to place a small or lightweight item in a large box. The bigger the box – regardless of the size of its contents – the higher the shipping price. For example, a 12” x 8” x 8” small box that is used to ship electronics with an actual weight of 1 lb. would have had a dimensional weight of 5 lbs. less than five years ago. Starting in 2017, however, the dimensional weight on that same package is 8 lbs. In dollars and cents, the package that might have cost you around $12 to ship via ground just a few years ago, could cost you $14-$15 in 2017.
Assuming an order will ship at actual weight versus being shipped in multiple boxes, an oversized box, or at DIM weight, can result in additional shipping costs of 10%-200%.
The bottom line for the DIM model: shippers sending bulky but lightweight packages will pay more than they did before 2015.