Has this ever happened to you? You’ve shipped a lightweight, but a bigger box, and paid more than for shipping a hefty, small parcel. It doesn’t make sense, right? At first glance, yes. But if you look more closely, you haven’t been tricked. You’ve simply come upon DIM.
Haven’t heard of it? Let’s find out what DIM is and how it affects the shipping cost in more detail.
What is dimensional pricing?
DIM stands for dimensional weight. It is a pricing method used by carriers and postal services. DIM reflects how much physical space a package occupies in addition to its weight. It’s actually a pretty recent technique that shipping companies started applying in the 2010s.
Before the addition of DIM, carriers used to calculate the shipping cost based on the weight of a parcel and the distance. Which was simple and clear. Shipping to Germany would cost more than shipping within the USA. And sending a 5 lb package would be more expensive than sending a 2 lb parcel.
With DIM, this formula becomes a bit more complicated since the size of a parcel also plays a big role. If the dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight of a package, you’re likely to pay more than for a heavier, but smaller parcel.
Why do shipping companies implement it?
DIM was included in the shipping price for a simple reason. The larger the package, the more space it takes up in a truck or a plane. As a result, fewer parcels can be transported at the same time.
Initially, this did not cause major problems. But recently, the demand for eCommerce shipping has significantly increased. Consumers are also expecting faster deliveries. This has led to a shift in shipping trends. Now carriers receive smaller and more frequent orders.
Eventually, shipping companies noticed that charging only for the weight of a package was no longer cost-effective. To prevent possible losses, they implemented DIM into their pricing system.
How do you calculate DIM?
For the most accurate shipping cost, it’s best to consult a shipping rates calculator. But you can also compute dimensional weight yourself.
Measure the length, width, and height of your package. Multiply these numbers to get the cubic size of your parcel. Then, divide it by the DIM divisor. It’s a number set by each carrier individually and represents the value of minimal density.
The DIM divisor is usually calculated in cubic inches per pound, but you can convert it to cubic centimeters per kilogram as well. Be sure to check which measurement system is used by the carrier to estimate the right number.
DIM and the shipping cost
So how does DIM matter when estimating the final shipping cost? If the weight of your package is bigger than the DIM, all is clear. You’ll be charged according to the weight. But if dimensional weight exceeds the actual weight, DIM will be used for deciding the price.
In other words, shipping companies will use the bigger variable to calculate the shipping price.
Do note that some carriers might use dimensional weight as a primary pricing factor, not taking into account its relation to the actual weight. That’s why it’s important to be aware of the dimensions of your package.
Tips on how to lower shipping costs by reducing DIM
The most effective way to reduce DIM is to keep the size of your parcel small. Select external packaging which best fits your items. Avoid using large boxes. You don’t really need them. The shipping box needs to be only slightly larger than the item to leave some space for cushioning materials. If you aren’t shipping fragile goods, consider putting them into poly mailers.
DIM might seem confusing at the beginning. But once you get to know how it is calculated and what impact it has on the shipping cost, you can easily reduce it and send items cheaper.