FedEx Expects Dim Wt Customers

FedEx Expects Dim Wt Customers

Will you be affected by FedEx 2015 rate increases?

By Kevin RR Williams

WEBSITE FedEx Ground is considerably more economical than Express options. This is just one reason why Ground is the preferred option for Store.ClinicalPosters.com orders. Customers receive the benefit of legendary tracking with free insurance up to $100.

Many people do not realize that the Express and Ground divisions operate much as separate companies that happen to share the same website and dropoff locations (FedEx Office). Preprinted packaging is not interchangeable. FedEx Express offers regular scheduled pickups at no additional charge (fee for unscheduled pickups). FedEx Ground imposes a monthly charge to establish a pickup schedule.

Beginning January 2015, another variable was implemented into FedEx shipping fees. It's called dimensional weight (dim wt). When dim wt was originally introduced early in 2014, it was limited to packages exceeding 3 cubic feet. Now it applies to all FedEx shipments, “making it the largest cumulative shipping fee increase in history.”

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Dim wt is an alternative weight based on the size of the shipping carton. FedEx chooses the larger of the calculated dim wt or the actual weight as the basis for billing. Obviously, the same carton can be filled with items that are light (like packing popcorn) or heavy (like metal picture frames). A box could be filled to capacity or only partially. Hence, there is no one mathematical formula for determining the weight of items. Rather, the goal is to determine the maximum value of space occupied on a carrier’s trucks and aircraft.

In many cases the dim wt is less than the actual weight. In other situations it can dramatically affect shipping cost. For example, most posters are rolled and shipped in tubes. As the number of posters increases, it may require a wider tube or a flat box. In some cases, customers request flat boxes to minimize curl. A flat box, in most instances is nearly three times the cost of a tube. (Incidentally, this is one reason “shipping and handling” is slightly higher than just “shipping.” It also requires labor to assemble and pack cartons.)

In the example of the contents that may fit in a tube being shipped in a flat box, the dim wt for a 25x3x3" tube is 1 pound. Depending upon finishing options, it may hold up to 6 posters with an actual weight under 2 pounds. When the same articles are placed into a flat box measuring 29x21x2", the dimensional weight swells to 7 pounds, and becomes the basis for carrier billing. We found ourselves absorbing shipping charges that were sometimes twice the amount billed during checkout until we were fully able to grasp what was going on.

Calculating Dimensional Weight

It became necessary to overhaul shipping calculations to apply the dim wt rule. This site now uses heuristics to determine dimensions based upon characteristics of items within the shopping cart. A laminated poster is thicker than paper; one with grommets is thicker still—limiting the number that can fit within a tube. The actual weight is compared with the dim wt before presenting shipping fees.

In some cases, different products cannot fit in the same package. For example, a rolled 42" wide poster cannot fit in a flat box with a frame; a book cannot be placed within a 3" tube with rolled posters. The dim wt for each is added together.

As you can see, implementing the dim wt goes beyond the relatively simple formula of LxWxH / 166 (FedEx Ground or /139 international) rounded to the nearest integer. One snippet of the larger formula written in Perl is below. The Perl programming language offers a variety of methods to achieve the same result. Likely another programmer may find a simpler way of expressing this equation. (A separate subroutine validates the string to LxWxH or “\d+.x.\d+.x.\d+".)

sub dims_weight {
  my $n=$_[0];
  my ($l,$w,$h,$us,$m);
  ($n,$us)=split(/\|/,$n);
  ($l,$w,$h)=split(/x/,$n);
  $h=1 if $h<1;
  $us=1 if $us eq "";
  $m=166; $m=139 if $us==0;
  $n=$l*$w*$h/$m; $n=1 if $n<1;
  return int($n);
}

UPS uses the same dim wt rules. Currently, the dim wt formula for USPS is different than FedEx and UPS. For USPS, if the package is over 1 cubic foot, it is subject to dim wt, but only when shipping to a zone 5 or higher. Additionally, USPS has a dim divisor of 194, not 166, which means the dim wt is lower. With a large shipping volume, it is possible to negotiate a better dim wt with FedEx.

In short, FedEx implemented a price increase in 2015 that must be discretionally passed along to customers. Dimensional weight encourages shippers to use smaller boxes. We will continue to pack responsibly and offer the best shipping options for items purchased. Thanks for your understanding.

Tags: carriers, coding, commerce, packages, parcels, programming

References
  1. Dimensional weight calculator. fedex.com
  2. FAQ: How Do I Calculate Dimensional Weight? efulfillmentservice.com
  3. How to Determine Billable Weight. ups.com
  4. New FedEx & UPS Dimensional Weight Rules. efulfillmentservice.com