Become a Partner

5 Questions About Dimensional Weight, Answered

Time to read: 2 minutes

What is Dimensional Weight?

Before we get to that, imagine this: consider a two-kilogram laptop and a two-kilogram bag of cotton. Both weigh two kilograms, yet it costs more to ship the bag of cotton than the laptop.

Why is that?

For freight forwarders, charging for shipping according to the actual weight is unprofitable due to the amount of space low-density goods, like cotton, take up in a truck, ship, or plane (think about how much more space the bag of cotton takes in comparison to the laptop).

As a result, freight forwarders came up with a technique to calculate the weight of a package that also accounts for the density of the goods.

Dimensional weight, also known as volumetric weight, is a technique used by freight forwarders to calculate the price of shipping based on the volume (the length, width, and height) of a package.

What is the significance of Dimensional Weight in eCommerce Shipping?

As mentioned, dimensional weight plays a key role in how you will budget your shipping costs and what sort of shipping options you can offer to your customers. Since most fulfillment and courier services factor this in on their fees, it is important to understand what is is, how it is computed, and how it can affect your business as a whole.

When are you charged according to the dimensional weight?

Freight forwarders always calculate the dimensional weight, compare it to the gross weight (weight of your goods including the packaging), and then use whichever one is higher to calculate the shipment cost.

How is dimensional weight calculated?

Dimensional weight is calculated using the following formula:

The volumetric divisor is an arbitrary number that varies based on 1) the country and 2) the freight forwarder.

Note: When calculating the volume (l*w*h), make sure that all the units for the length, width, and height are either in cm or m.

You can calculate the dimensional weight yourself using the divisors below.

a) By Air

Couriers (UPSTNTFedExDHL)

  • if the length, width, and height are calculated in cm, the volumetric divisor is 5000
  • if the length, width, and height are calculated in m, the volumetric divisor is 0.005

Air freight

  • if the length, width, and height are calculated in cm, the volumetric divisor is 6000
  • if the length, width, and height are calculated in m, the volumetric divisor is 0.006

b) By Ocean

Ocean freight

  • The rule is that 1 Cubic Meter (CBM) is equal to 1 metric ton (1000 kg). In other words, goods with a volumetric weight of 1 CBM are considered as weighing 1 metric ton.

How can you avoid getting charged according to dimensional weight?

Depending on the density of your goods, you may not be able to avoid getting charged according to the dimensional weight of your packages.

However, it is possible to minimize shipping costs by optimizing the packaging of your goods – your packaging should have the smallest possible dimensions, but also be able to keep your goods safe while in transit.

Need some advice on how to package your goods or help with calculating dimensional weight? Let ZhenHub help you!

Reach out to to speak to an expert.

Share Article

Revolutionizing your logistics is just a few steps away.