Ever heard shipping agents toss around terms like “volumetric weight” and wondered what on earth they’re talking about? It turns out volumetric weight is a secret weapon for saving money on shipping, especially if you’re running an online store or regularly shipping packages.


If you’ve ever been baffled by why a huge box of pillows costs more to ship than a small box of tools (even if the tools are heavier!), then understanding volumetric weight is the key to solving the mystery.


In this guide, we’ll break down the concept of volumetric weight, show you how to calculate it in a few simple steps and explain why it can make a big difference to your bottom line.


What is Volumetric Weight?


Volumetric weight is a way for shipping companies to measure how much space your package takes up. For example, a giant teddy bear might be light as a feather, but it still fills up a whole lot of room in a truck or aeroplane. That space costs money for shipping companies, so they factor it into their pricing.


There’s a difference between your package’s actual weight (what it weighs on a scale) and its volumetric weight. Volumetric weight is calculated based on the size of your package—its length, width, and height.


The shipping company then compares the two weights and charges you based on whichever one is higher. That’s why a massive box of feathers might cost more to ship than a small box of bricks, even if the bricks are heavier.


This “higher” weight is called the billable weight. It’s the number that determines how much you’ll pay for shipping. So, even if your package is light as air if it takes up a lot of space, your wallet might feel a bit heavier after paying the shipping bill.



How to Calculate Volumetric Weight: Step-by-Step Guide


1. Measure Up


Carefully measure the length, width, and height of your package. It’s like measuring yourself for new clothes, but way less awkward. Use inches or centimetres, whatever your carrier prefers.


2. Round it Up


Now, let’s round each of those measurements to the nearest whole number. Why? Because shipping companies aren’t big on decimals. Plus, it’s better to overestimate a little than underestimate and get hit with surprise fees later.


3. The Cubic Equation


Don’t worry, this isn’t high school geometry. Simply multiply your rounded length, width, and height together. This gives you the cubic size of your package – basically, how much space it takes up.


4. The Divisor


Each shipping carrier has its own special number called a DIM divisor. It is a code that unlocks the volumetric weight. For UPS, it’s 166. FedEx uses 139. Other carriers might have different numbers, so be sure to check their websites or ask them directly.


5. Round up the Result


Divide your package’s cubic size by the DIM divisor. The result? That’s your volumetric weight in either pounds or kilograms, depending on the units you use. Round it up to the nearest whole number, and you’re done.


Calculation Example


Let’s assume you’re sending a giant teddy bear to your niece for her birthday. It’s a fluffy, cuddly teddy that barely weighs 5 pounds. But it takes up a ton of space in a box, measuring roughly 16 inches wide, 16 inches long, and 42 inches tall.


Now, assume you’re delivering through a shipping company with a DIM divisor 166. Then, the volumetric weight of that teddy bear would be 65 pounds. That’s right, a 5-pound teddy bear suddenly weighs 65 pounds in the eyes of the shipping company.


Now, let’s say you’re also sending a box of notebooks to your college-bound nephew. You’ve packed three boxes, each filled with 33 pounds of notebooks. The boxes themselves are a tidy 15 inches on all sides. In this case, the total actual weight is a hefty 99 pounds. But the volumetric weight will only be about 61 pounds.


See the difference? Even though the notebooks are much heavier than the teddy bear, their smaller size means they have a lower volumetric weight. In this case, you’d be charged based on the actual weight of 99 pounds. But with the teddy bear, you’re stuck paying for those extra 60 “ghost” pounds due to its size.


These examples show how volumetric weight can be a real game-changer, especially when shipping large, lightweight items. It’s a reminder that size does matter in the shipping world, and understanding the calculations can help you make smarter choices and potentially save some serious cash.



Why Does Volumetric Weight Matter?


Impact on Shipping Costs


Volumetric weight is not an abstract concept but can significantly increase your shipping costs. Most carriers have a simple rule: they charge you based on the higher of the two weights – actual or volumetric. It’s like a game of “pick the highest number,” your wallet is the loser if volumetric weight wins.


Importance for Businesses


For businesses, understanding volumetric weight is a strategic advantage. When you know how to calculate and manage volumetric weight, you can make smarter choices about packaging, potentially saving a bundle on shipping costs over time. This means you can offer more competitive prices to your customers, which is always a good thing, right?


Plus, having a handle on volumetric weight gives you an edge when negotiating with carriers. You’ll know what to expect and can push for better rates, especially if you regularly ship large volumes. It’s like having a secret weapon in your negotiation arsenal.


Hidden Costs and Surprises


One of the most frustrating things about volumetric weight is the potential for hidden fees. If you underestimate the volumetric weight of your package, you might end up paying extra courier charges. And trust me, nobody likes surprise bills.


Some carriers even have special pricing tiers for packages that exceed certain dimensions. So, your product might not only cost more due to its volumetric weight but could also bump you into a higher pricing category.


Volumetric weight is especially critical when you’re shipping across borders, where space on planes and ships is even more limited and expensive. So, if you’re planning for international shipping with your business, get cosy with volumetric weight calculations first.





While understanding volumetric weight is crucial, managing the complexities of shipping doesn’t stop there. If you’re an eCommerce business looking to streamline your logistics management, you might want to consider a platform like NimbusPost.


NimbusPost is a tech-enabled shipping aggregator that aims to simplify the often-daunting world of e-commerce logistics. They leverage AI and automation to provide a comprehensive solution for your shipping needs, including:


  • Carrier Rate Comparison: NimbusPost’s platform lets you compare rates from multiple carriers, helping you find the most cost-effective and best courier partner in India. This can be a game-changer, especially when volumetric weight is a factor.


  • Bulk Shipping: Easily handle large volumes of shipments with their automated system, saving you time and effort.


  • Inventory Management: Store your inventory across their network of warehouses strategically located near your customers to reduce shipping times and costs.


  • NDR Management: Their cloud-based system helps manage non-delivery reports (NDRs), reducing RTO (return to origin) rates and improving overall delivery success.


  • COD Remittance: Enjoy fast and efficient cash-on-delivery (COD) remittance within one day.


  • Global Reach: NimbusPost offers both domestic and international shipping solutions, expanding your business’s reach.


If you’re looking to simplify your eCommerce logistics, reduce shipping costs (including those pesky volumetric weight charges), and improve your overall shipping efficiency, NimbusPost could be the solution you’ve been searching for.

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