Easyship Solutions & Updates

Dead and dimensional weight, explained

Determine dimensional and dead weight shipping solutions for your eCommerce business. Use our calculator to find volume & billable weight rates.
Dead and dimensional weight, explained

By Jules


June 6, 2019

Did you know that the way you package your items can impact your shipping costs? This is because couriers can implement different standards when determining the billable weight of your shipments.

To see how packaging can affect your shipping cost, first it’s best to understand how couriers establish their rates. Then, we’ll demonstrate how you can use shipping software like Easyship to find the best value solution for your shipment.

Dead weight vs. dimensional weight - what is the difference?

Dead weight is the actual weight of your shipment. When couriers choose to charge your shipment based on dead weight, they do not take into account the physical size of your shipment. Postal couriers such as the United States Postal Service, Hong Kong Post, and SingPost normally offer services whose rates are based on dead weight.

However, it’s common for couriers like FedEx, UPS, and DHL to implement a pricing structure based on the amount of space your shipment takes up on a truck or aircraft. This is known as dimensional (or volumetric) weight.

To calculate this, couriers multiply the length, width, and height of your package, then divide this number by a cubic divisor of their choice. They will then compare this number to the actual weight of your shipment, and will charge the higher of the two.

Why do couriers charge by dimensional weight?

If you need a visual, imagine shipping a package full of ball pit balls. The weight of the package itself is pretty light. However, because of how much space it can take up, a delivery truck full of such packages could be quickly filled to capacity with very little actual weight.

Couriers are always looking to maximize the number of packages on a vehicle while maintaining profitability, so they take this into account and use a pricing structure that will charge accordingly.

Using optional dimensions to discover dead weight solutions

Does the following apply to your business?

  • You ship items that are light in weight but bulky in size.
  • You don’t have the time to optimize your packaging.
  • You’re simply not interested in using any solutions that charge by dimensional weight.

If so, you do have the option on Easyship to only show shipping solutions that do not take volumetric weight into account. This can be done pretty quickly!

When you sync orders from your store into Easyship, you’ll see a field that lists item dimensions. Leave this blank.

By leaving this field blank, our algorithm will now know to show available rates and services that do not require dimensions.

New pricing changes for USPS dimensional weight in 2019

It’s common for postal and ground solutions to not base their rates on dimensional weight.

However, this may no longer hold true due to USPS’ rate changes in 2019. Before, if your package dimensions were over 1 cubic foot, USPS used to only apply dimensional weight for these Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express packages if they were being shipped further distances (zones five through nine, if you want to get technical).

But starting June 23, 2019, it won’t matter which zone you are shipping to. If your package is over one cubic foot and you’ll be using Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express, it will be subject to dimensional weight for zones one through nine.

Discover dead weight solutions with Optional Dimensions

If reducing your package size is not possible, it’s not the end of the world! Limiting your search to solutions that don’t require dimensions will help you find competitive rates.

And, if you’re in need for solutions that are quicker and require the use of a courier that does take dimensional weight into account, not to worry - you can always edit your order and re-enter dimensions, allowing for the algorithm to find additional courier solutions.