Author Archives: Karen Baker

Dimensional Weight – Part 1 – Introduction

Author: Karen Baker  |  June 29, 2014

What is Dimensional Weight?

Dimensional Weight is the calculation of the weight of goods in terms of their dimensions.  The length, width, height of a package is used to give a volume, then this is usually increased by a multiplier to give a dimensional weight.

For example we may have an item that is Length 25inches, Height 20in, Width 32in.  If we use UPS as an example then for Domestic US Air shipments the Dimensional Weight is calculated as (25*20*32)/166 = 96. The Dimensional Weight would be 96lbs.

Dimensional Weight Calculation

How does Dimensional Weight affect Shipment Pricing?

Traditionally the calculation of shipment pricing has been done using the origin, the destination and the weight.  I’ve clearly made a generalization in this statement as there are other factors such as the packaging container, account type, etc which affect pricing, but you can think of this as the general rule.

But, with countries such as the US space is of a premium. If you think in terms of an aircraft, let’s say I wanted to send 500lbs of cotton wool. Well this is going to take up much more room than say 500lbs of lead weight. So what logistics companies such as UPS and FedEx have done is created a calculation which takes into account this Dimensional Weight, if its relevant.  They look at what is known as the Billable Weight.

The Billable Weight can be simply viewed as the greater of the Dimensonal Weight and the Actual Weight.  So if we have the 96lb Dimensional Weight example from above the Billable Weight would be 96lb unless the actual weight is greater.  So a 120lb piece of gym equipment would result in a Billable Weight of 120lbs. A 34lb bike would result in a Billable Weight of 96lb. The lower value is ignored.

Billable Weight

Why is this Important?

And the reason this is important?  Because you will be charged based on this Billable Weight, and not the actual weight. So if you were shipping that bike and only using the actual weight you would have charged the customer a much less lower price than its actually costing you to ship.

Why is this even more important in 2014?

The advent of online commerce has resulted in an explosion in shipments. Just a few years ago most goods were purchased via a visit to the local mall or the Home Depot/Warehouse.  Now we are seeing a mass move to getting our goods via the mail.

From a logistics carrier perspective they have been playing catchup with this move to online commerce too, and having to rethink how shipment pricing works as a result of the pressures on them in terms of space, fuel costs and sheer amounts of parcels now being delivered.

What has also happened is that companies like Amazon have realised its more efficient for them to have less box sizes, and use a larger box with more empty space rather than try to pack what we would call efficiently.  The best way to think about this is when you receive goods from Amazon do you notice that often there are ‘packers’ in the box and a big box with not much in it?  This is because this is easier for Amazon.  Its not easier for the carriers as this space is all taking up room in their vans and planes.

This image from Japan sums up the issue perfectly.


So, in 2014 Logistics Companies are fighting back. They want to pack more densely, and if they can’t then they want to charge appropriately for this. There have been three key announcements in recent weeks around Dimensional Weight based shipping:

  1. FedEx announced they would be moving to dimensional pricing for Ground and Freight from Jan 1 2015
  2. UPS announces Dimensional Pricing from Dec 2014 on Ground shipments (is already in place on Air/International)
  3. UPS Freight announces a move to Density Based Pricing (aka Dimensional Pricing) in a move away from long held Classification Pricing (NMFC codes)

How does it work in Magento?

Right now in Magento there is no support for Dimensional Based Pricing. And its not easy to implement. Why? Because generally a package is made up of more than 1 item.  So you can’t just enter dimensions on products like you do with weights and solve this issue.  It’s deeper than that.

In Part 2 I’ll go over how we solve this at WebShopApps and in ShipperHQ.  In the meantime feel free to contact us or take a look at our Dimensional Shipping Extension if you are in need of a solution today.


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The Evolution of eCommerce Shipping has Arrived

Author: Karen Baker  |  May 10, 2014

WebShopApps have been working hard over the past year and the US team are now proud to launch ShipperHQ, the first carrier agnostic platform for managing and manipulating shipping rates.  Initially rolling out to Magento Enterprise customers, we’ll be adding support for Magento Community, Shopify, and BrilliantRetail by end of June, with other platforms including Big Commerce being added in Q3.

For many of our customers, shipping is becoming a big part of their business. As competition in the online space grows, and as the eCommerce companies themselves continue to expand at a rapid rate it’s becoming ever more paramount to be able to offer customers the most accurate shipping prices possible, whilst having the flexibility to offer ad-hoc shipping promotions, loss-leaders, etc.

With the ShipperHQ platform, we’re working to bring together our deep experience and powerful software developed over the past 5 years into a single, simple to use interface.  Our aim: to empower merchants to control their shipping without the boundaries and restriction of technology holding them back.  With ShipperHQ we believe we have the future of eCommerce Shipping in our sights.

ShipperHQ will allow merchants to use their own carrier rates, set up special promotions, manage dimensional logic, implement multi-origin drop shipping, and give customers accurate timings on when deliveries will arrive. All of this inside a single consolidated solution that will only grow as we add and expand our capabilities. With partnerships in place across small package and LTL freight logistics providers we’re well positioned to provide merchants with the power they need, without the hassle of custom integration.

If you want to see the future of eCommerce shipping, stop by our lounge (#60) in Magento’s Imagine eCommerce conference marketplace! We’ll be glad to walk you through the powerful capabilities and shipping-centric dashboard of ShipperHQ or schedule a demo for a later date. Won’t be at Imagine? Contact us to set up a demo.

About WebShopApps

Far away from the VC backed world of Silicon Valley, a small company that recently moved its headquarters from the UK to Dublin, Ohio is changing the face of shipping within eCommerce.  WebShopApps was founded in 2008 by CEO Karen Baker and now, via a combination of paid and free apps, has over 70,000 merchants using their shipping rate software within the eBay-owned Magento ecosystem. WebShopApps are proud to be Magento Platinum Industry Partners, and innovators in the space of shipping rate software.  Watch this space!

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