ask the expert series

volumetric weight

One main concern all courier companies are faced with is cutting empty space. Regardless of the shipping method, there is a capacity that is ultimately going to be reached, much like when you’re packing a suitcase and you can’t zip it all the way because it’s too full so you start leaving items out. That’s what shipping companies will do with packages so that they can close the container. 

In order to maximize the capacity and cut void space, companies introduce different techniques, one being volumetric weight that helps make the most out of packages that are lightweight but occupy more space.

What is volumetric weight?

Remember that trick question, “What is heavier: a ton of bricks or a ton of feathers?” Well, although their physical weight is a ton, their volumetric weight is a completely different story. The ton of brick will take up less physical space because it is a more dense material and the feathers will take up a ton of space but ultimately a ton is a ton. However, light and soft objects that take up a lot of space prevent couriers from shipping more products.

For example, a plane full of beach balls or pillows will be more costly to ship than one loaded with boxes containing iPads as the balls or pillows have less value but occupy more space. That’s why couriers use volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, as a pricing strategy in order to prevent losses from shipping bulky lightweight packages.

This is how when pricing is based on volumetric weight, the box of pillows could be considered heavier than a small box of electronics. 

How is volumetric weight calculated?

Volumetric weight is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height of a parcel in centimetres (cm) and then dividing that figure by 5,000 to achieve the volumetric weight.

In order to determine the price of shipping your parcel, couriers will use either volumetric weight or physical weight. The price is calculated on whichever is the greater out of the volumetric weight and the physical weight. For example, you could have a box of pillows that is quite large, say 75 cm x 60 cm x 70 cm but is relatively lightweight at 5 kg. Using the formula above (length x width x height / 5000), the volume of the parcel is 63 volumetric kilograms. As the volumetric weight 'outweighs' the physical weight of 5kgs, the price is based on 63 kilograms.

Physical weight is used when you have a small parcel with heavy items such as metal (30 cm x 25 cm x 25cm) weighing 10 kg in physical weight. The volumetric weight of this parcel is 3.75 kg. So in this instance the volumetric weight is lower than the actual weight, meaning that the price would be calculated on 10 kg.

Can volumetric weight be avoided?

It is a key part of the forward2me service that all parcels are scanned/ weighed and measured upon arrival. Our state-of-the-art scanning system records the data so during processing, we can determine whether the parcel is efficiently packed to protect the item but also ensure you, our customers, do not pay for any wasted packing space.

As a premium service, forward2me offers Combine and Repack to all customers. This allows purchase of a multitude of items from various suppliers. Our team of combine and repack experts will carefully repack into condensed packaging to eliminate void space and reduces product movement that can lead to damage. By reducing the overall size of the parcels and shipping costs we also ensure the safety of the contents. 

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