How To Choose The Right Box Size

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A bigger box will mean a bigger cost.

box size
Here’s a statistic that should alarm business owners who regularly ship products or supplies. There’s about 40 percent wasted space in the average shipped package. That’s a lot of unfilled space, caused by shippers who use boxes that are way too big. A few years ago, when shipping prices were based only on weight, empty space in a box wasn’t much of an issue. After all, emptiness didn’t add weight to the package, did it?

DIM based shipping costs on box size

Now though, the shipping landscape has shifted, and the size of a box matters a lot because major shipping carriers like UPS and FedEx base their shipping charges on either weight or what is called dimensional weight (DIM)–the length, height and depth of a box. They measure both weight and DIM and choose whichever charge is higher. (One way to avoid DIM, for boxes under 1 cubic foot, is to ship through the USPS, which doesn’t use DIM pricing for boxes of that size.)

Shipping costs often increase with DIM

In many cases, especially when shipped items aren’t heavy, DIM is more expensive. I saw an example in an article I read that compared the cost of several items–a pair of tennis shoes, a toaster and a student backpack. In each case, the DIM charge was higher for those items — from 13 percent to 35 percent. Shipping the tennis shoes cost $1.06 more on average because of DIM pricing, for example. By employing DIM, carriers are pushing shippers to use boxes that are a better fit for the products they contain. Decreasing box size allows shippers to get more boxes on their trucks and planes, which means more money to their bottomline.

Find a better box

The good news for you is that box manufacturers are more sophisticated and savvy as well, and so, with some research and negotiation, it should be easier to find boxes that are a better fit for the products you ship. Even if you have to spend a little more on your boxes, you are likely to still save thousands in shipping charges by using a box that better suits what you are shipping.


Sharon Vanover

April 17, 2017

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