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How Measure a Box for Shipping: Dimensions, Volume, Weight

8 min read

As an entrepreneur and an ecommerce business owner, cutting costs wherever possible is always a good idea.

Shipping products likely takes up a good chunk of your profits, particularly if you offer free shipping to customers, so any opportunity to save money on shipping is like music to your ears!

To get the most cost-effective shipping rates, you must understand how to measure the boxes and packages you send out.

Shipping carriers try to maximize their profits as much as possible, so businesses must know how to accurately report these numbers so they don’t get overcharged.

This post explains how to measure a box for shipping and calculate the weight and volume of each box you send. We also cover various strategies you can try to save money on shipping.

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Tools You Need to Measure a Box

There are a few tools to have handy when measuring your box. These include:

  • Ruler/tape measure to calculate the height, width, and length
  • Pen/pencil to measure the leftover space in the box once you pack the product
  • Paper to write down measurements

How to Measure Dimensions of a Box for Shipping

Wondering how to properly measure a box for shipping? We’re here to help! Here’s everything you need to know to get your measurements accurate.

  1. Measure the length of the box: do this step first. This is the longest side of the box that has a long flap.
  2. Measure the width of the box: turn the box 90 degrees to measure its width. This is the side with the shorter flap.
  3. Measure the height of the box: keep the flaps closed on the box and measure the height — the distance from the bottom of the box to the top.

How to Calculate the Volume of a Box

Calculating the volume of a box will tell you how much space the box will take up. This measurement differs from weight, which tells you how heavy something is. Both measurements are essential for shipping.

Here’s how to calculate volume:

Volume = Length x Width x Height

Using the measurements of the box that you calculated above, you can determine volume. For example, say your box is 4 inches tall, 20 inches long, and 10 inches wide.

So, the volume equation would read: V = 20 x 10 x 4 = 800

Therefore, the box’s volume would be 800 cubic inches.

Calculating the Dimensional Weight of a Box

Most carrier services will require the weight of a box to ship it.

Here’s how to easily calculate the weight of a box:

  • Determine the package volume (Length x Width x Height)
  • Divide the volume by your selected carrier’s divisor.
    • USPS & DHL — 166
    • UPS & FedEx — 139

The formula for USPS will look like this:

(Length x Width x Height) / 166 = ???

Strategies to Reduce Your Shipping Costs

Aside from correctly measuring the boxes you use to ship your products, there are a few other ways to reduce shipping costs and save money.

These include:

Use ships in own container (SIOC) packaging

Rather than purchasing new boxes, use the product’s existing packaging to ship your items. You can attach the shipping labels to the product rather than pop it in a box.

Reuse old boxes

Reduce, reuse, and recycle is the motto of many small businesses looking to cut costs. Utilize the boxes you receive your product in to ship orders to customers or ask for box donations from local restaurants, shops, and other organizations that are willing to offload their supplies.

Use the boxes provided by your carrier

Major shipping carriers like USPS, UPS, FedEx, and DHL all provide free shipping supplies, including boxes, to their customers.

If you ship regularly with one of these carriers, you should qualify for their supplies at no cost.

Lean on your ecommerce platform

Many ecommerce platforms, like Ecwid, offer their customers shipping options that help them save on shipping costs.

Ecwid’s discounted shipping labels allow our users to find the lowest possible shipping cost right in their control panel. It saves time and money with automated shipping labels that are convenient and easy to use.

Measuring Boxes FAQ

Get all your questions answered here about measuring boxes.

Should I measure the inside or the outside of my box?

When you measure a box for shipping carriers like USPS or FedEx, you’ll measure the exterior of the box so they can determine how much space their cargo will need to fit your box.

When you’re measuring the inside of the box, this will help you determine what products will fit within the box itself.

Does box size matter when shipping?

Yes! The size of the box you use will impact the shipping rate you pay. This is why you should have an accurate understanding of the size of your box so you can enter these measurements when paying for shipping.

You may be able to save some money on fees rather than just guessing what your box size is and overpaying.

Does every shipping carrier charge the same price for a box?

No. Each shipping carrier creates its own pricing model based on the package destination, the weight, and the desired delivery date. This is why we recommend shopping around for the best possible rate based on your box’s measurements.

What is LxWxH?

This is the common equation used to determine the volume of a box. Length times width times height will tell you the volume of a package, which many carriers require when paying for postage.

Successfully Ship Products with Ecwid

Shipping products is the foundation of how any ecommerce company makes money (unless you’re only operating on digital downloads). To improve your bottom line and reduce overhead costs, it’s essential to find ways to save money on shipping.

Whether you reuse old boxes, ship using your carrier’s packaging, or utilize cost-saving strategies like Ecwid’s discounted shipping labels, get creative with how you save money for the short and long term.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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