Updated: Sep 17, 2020
If you want a quick summary- volumetric weight is calculated based on the size of your package, instead of the actual weight. Shipping companies will calculate both these weights in processing your shipment, and charge you for whichever one is higher. Use FedEx’s online shipping calculator to determine your volumetric weight.
An e-commerce seller once told me their rate to ship their 0.5 kg handcraft pillow to the U.S was $5. But when she received the charges, she was charged for a 3 kg shipment - that’s a huge difference of 2.5 kg (using DHL public rates, this means the price jumps from $73 to $187 - a 200%++ increase in your shipping costs).
What happened there? Simple Answer: She was charged for volumetric weight instead of actual weight.
What is Volumetric Weight?
Shipping companies use two pricing strategies: Actual Weight & Volumetric Weight. Volumetric Weight is a pricing technique that relies on the size of your package (that’s why they ask for your package’s length, width, and height!). Actual Weight refers to the real weight of the package.
In processing your shipment, shipping companies will calculate both your actual weight and volumetric weight. They will charge you for whichever one is higher.
Let’s return to our unfortunate pillow seller. While the pillow’s actual weight was only 0.5 kg, her volumetric weight was 3kg because her dimensions were 30 x 15 x 15 cm.
Why Do Shipping Companies Use Volumetric Weight Calculator?
Simply put, the space your package takes up is important. Shipping companies need to load tons of packages, and they need to optimize space. If your large 0.5 kg package is taking up the same amount of space as the tiny 3kg package, it makes sense for the shipping company to deliver them at the same price.
How Do I Calculate Volumetric Weight?
Thankfully, you will never have to calculate this by yourself because there are many free online calculators. Check out FedEx’s volumetric weight calculator.
But if you want to know the math: multiply your length, width, and height (in cm). Then, divide this amount by 5000.
While your package may not weigh much, the package’s large dimensions might result in the volumetric weight exceeding the actual weight. This can result in huge differences in costs, unexpected shocks, and endless frustration. Calculate it now.
With JustShip, we will always quote you the final price after calculating both volumetric and actual weight. Additionally, we provide packing services so you never have to worry about finding the best box. Get a Quote now or Contact Us.