Shipping and Package Dimensions: DIMmed If You Do, DIMmed If You Don’t

Jan 11, 2022

4 min read

To say that shipping has changed since the pandemic is an understatement. Case in point: eCommerce purchases surged in 2020/2021, creating over a decade worth of growth in just three months.

In response, carriers know they must be more efficient in how they move packages, which is leading to increased costs for shippers. Prime example?

Package dimensions.

Many shippers don’t understand when they’re charged for a package’s dimensional weight or the dimensional factors that trigger surcharges. But it’s absolutely crucial to understand how a package’s dimensions affect your shipping cost. Newsflash, it’s significant.

 

What is dimensional weight (aka DIM weight)? 

Dimensional weight is based on the measurements of a package:

(L x W x H) / DIM divisor 

The standard DIM divisor for 2022 is 139 (and is negotiable with your carrier). When you send a package, your carrier will electronically scan it to determine its dimensions and calculate the DIM weight, rounding up to the next pound. If the DIM weight is higher than its actual weight, you’ll pay based on the DIM weight. This makes it absolutely vital to choose the right packaging.

Choosing packaging that’s unnecessarily large will cost you more. And if you overpack a box, causing it to bulge beyond its original dimensions, the carrier’s scanner will measure larger dimensions, making the package cost more than you were expecting. You don’t want that.

 

What is the dimensional Additional Handling surcharge? 

In 2022, the Additional Handling – Dimension surcharge is zone-based. Costing between $15.75 to $21.50 (up from $16 in 2021) and kicks in under three conditions, the last of which is new and might catch shippers by surprise. The surcharge will apply if a package is:

  • Longer than 48” on the longest side
  • Longer than 30” on the second-longest side
  • More than 105” in length and girth combined (A package’s girth is two times its width plus two times its height.)
 

An example of how dimensions affect your shipping costs

To see how these dimensional costs might come into play, let’s look at a 20” x 20” x 25” package with an actual weight of 23 lbs.

Based on the formula above, the dimensional weight will be 72 lbs, and because that’s greater than its actual weight of 23 lbs, you’ll be charged for the dimensional weight, which is clearly much higher and, in turn, more costly. Starting to get it?

What about Additional Handling costs? Same package example – It’s not longer than 48” on the longest side or 30” on the second-longest side, but don’t forget that new trigger — length plus girth. Let’s calculate.

Its length is 20”. Its girth is 90”. Remember, that’s [(2 x 20”) plus (2 x 25”)].

So the length and girth combined are 110”, adding $15.75-$21.50 to the cost of your package. If you were estimating the cost based on your package’s actual weight and weren’t aware of the new surcharge trigger, you’ve vastly underestimated the cost of that package.

Now take that underestimation times the number of packages you ship each week or month.

That’s going to add up fast.

 

Crunch the numbers

We didn’t warn you there would be so much math in this blog post, did we? There’s so much more than many shippers expect when it comes to understanding your shipping costs. Being able to model the impact of dimensions and packaging, among many other factors, is crucial to staying on budget and being able to offer your customers affordable or even free shipping.

Good thing we made this handy DIM calculator for you! 

Don’t let unexpected new costs bust your budget in 2022. Know your data like the back of your hand – from every angle. It’s the only way you’ll stay ahead of costs and any surprises that might pop up. Having a consistent, normalized way to visualize your shipping trends and spend will make it easier to manage your costs.

Looking for more ways to get a handle on shipping costs in 2022? Check out our ebook, 2022 Supply Chain Forecast: Our Predictions for the scoop on all the carrier changes coming for 2022. 

 

Topics: Dimensional (DIM) Weight, Dimensional Weight Contract Negotiation
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