Have you ever found yourself puzzled over the term 'volumetric weight' during logistics planning for your ecommerce business? Don't worry; you're not alone. This concept can seem intimidating, let alone learning to calculate the volumetric weight of your products. Still, understanding its crucial role in shipping terms could help you save on substantial packet delivery costs. In fact, getting a firm grasp of this concept might be the missing puzzle piece in making your business more profitable and efficient.

What Is Volumetric Weight and Who Uses It?

Volumetric weight, often termed as dimensional weight or volume weight, is a pricing technique utilized by courier services, wherein the price of shipping is based not only on the physical weight of a package, but also its volume. The concept of volumetric weight reflects the density of a package. A less dense item generally occupies more space, compared to its actual weight. Therefore, carriers charge according to the overall space a package occupies in their vehicles (translation: more volume), rather than just the total weight.

Volumetric weight is one type of chargeable weight. The other type is gross weight. Chargeable weight is an umbrella term that refers to the measurement freight carriers use to determine how much a shipment should cost. The chargeable weight of shipments can be based on its volume or gross weight (just a fancy way of saying actual weight).

Using a package's volume is particularly beneficial for e-commerce companies that ship small but higher-weight items or large yet lightweight items. The practice is predominantly in use by postal and courier companies worldwide, such as UPS, FedEx, and DHL. It's critical for business owners to grasp the idea of volumetric weight as it could significantly impact the cost of shipping goods to their customers.

Products that are large and lightweight like soft toys, pillows, furniture, sports equipment, light fixtures, etc., are typically charged based on volumetric weight. On the other hand, small but heavy items like books, metal instruments, etc., are charged based on their actual weight. This practice ensures that the shipping companies are compensated fairly for the space that a package takes up in their transport vehicles, whether it be an airplane or truck.

Is Volumetric Weight the Best Method for Calculating Shipping Costs?

While there are other methods used for calculating shipping costs, they often come with limitations that ecommerce businesses must anticipate. For instance, you can use actual weight, which is simply the physical weight of the item. However, this doesn't account for the space the package takes in the shipping vehicle. Space is a resource carriers must optimize; a light but bulky item can take up as much, if not more, space as a small, dense package.

Another approach is calculating cost based on the item value. Some couriers may offer this model, allowing businesses to charge shipping based on the price of the item. However, this method can be unfair for inexpensive but heavy or large items. For instance, a less expensive but large and heavy furniture piece might end up unfairly priced if the shipping cost is based merely on the item's value.

When considering these alternative methods, volumetric or dimensional weight stands out as the best solution for most, if not all, ecommerce businesses for several reasons.

Volumetric weight essentially equates the space a package takes up on a vehicle, as compared to the total weight of the package. By incorporating both the parcel’s size and weight into the equation, ecommerce businesses can get a more accurate reflection of their shipping costs. This is a fair and efficient charge determination method that usually turns out to be the most cost-effective.

Given these factors, volumetric weight allows you to keep a tight rein on your shipping expenses while still ensuring your customers don't feel overcharged for delivery.

How Is Volumetric Weight Calculated?

Calculating volumetric weight is an essential skill for all ecommerce business owners, and it's quite simple math. You'll need a couple of pieces of information handy to calculate volumetric weight through this section: the dimensions of the box you're using and the weight of your product packed in that box. (Well, you should probably grab a calculator, too.)

The first detail to understand about volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, is that it's a shipping term used worldwide. It calculates the cost of shipping packages not just based on actual weight, but on the overall size or amount of space the package occupies in relation to its weight based on its dimensions.

Now, let’s outline a straightforward process for calculating the volumetric weight of your packages:

1. Measure the dimensions of your package in inches (length, width, and height).

2. Multiply the measurements of these three dimensions together (length x width x height) to get your package’s volume.

3. As per the common industry standard, divide this resulting figure by 166. The answer you end up with is the volumetric weight of your shipment, expressed in pounds.

Here's a simplified formula to calculate volumetric weight:
Volumetric Weight = (Length x Width x Height) / 5000.

And remember, different courier companies might use different volumetric factors, so it's always wise to check the specific guidelines of your courier.

We know what you're thinking: Where's my volumetric weight calculator? You can leverage our All Points Dimensional Weight Calculator (you can consider this a volumetric weight calculator as well) when you're in a time crunch, don't have a calculator handy, or just want to outsource the work. This user-friendly tool does all the heavy lifting for you, giving you an accurate dimensional weight quickly and hassle-free.

Whether you're manually calculating or using a helpful tool, understanding volumetric or dimensional weight is key to managing shipping costs for your eCommerce business. Speed, accuracy, and efficiency can only lead to better business decisions and, ultimately, increased profitability.

Where a 3PL Comes In

Third-party logistics (3PLs) providers like All Points play a pivotal role in the e-commerce landscape, especially when it comes to shipping. One of the ways they add value is by using volumetric weight for their clients. But why is this so vital?

The reason is twofold. Firstly, volumetric weight more accurately represents how much space a package will occupy during transport. This is particularly beneficial for e-commerce businesses as merchandise can greatly differ in shape and size. Using actual weight alone could lead to overestimating or underestimating the space needed. Therefore, leveraging volumetric weight ensures carriers allocate the perfect spot for your package while keeping shipping costs predictable.

Secondly, 3PLs like All Points often secure preferential rates with shipping companies, thanks to their high shipping volumes. This is where their unique relationships come into play. By negotiating bulk deals, these companies achieve substantial cost savings passed down to you, further compounding the financial benefits of volumetric weight methodology.


Understanding volumetric weight is crucial for e-commerce businesses to optimize shipping costs. Unlike actual weight, volumetric weight considers both the size and weight of a package, providing a fair cost assessment. Leveraging this method ensures efficient use of transport space and can lead to substantial savings. Third-party logistics providers, like All Points, further enhance savings through preferential rates with carriers. Mastering volumetric weight calculation is key to maximizing profitability in the competitive e-commerce landscape.

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