Found a great product you really want, but shipping to your country is almost twice its price? Left your shopping cart and tweeted about your disappointment? Well, you’re not alone there. Have you ever wondered why international shipping is so costly? We have. And we found that one of the reasons is the way carriers calculate the shipping costs.
When you are done reading through some technical definitions, you will be learning a trick that will let you save quite a bit of money on international shipping. Let’s have a quick look at the different types of weights that shipping service providers use for calculating shipping costs.
Actual weight (Gross weight)
The weight of all goods including packaging. It is measured using the same units as the net weight (weight without packaging) and you can use the GW abbreviation (gross weight) to identify it.
Volumetric weight (Dimensional weight)
Dimensional weight, also known as volumetric weight, is a pricing technique for freight transport (including courier and postal services). It basically estimates the weight based on the package length, width and height. The dimensional weight is usually expressed in cubic meters or cubic feet.
The chargeable weight is the highest of the two calculations: actual weight and dimensional weight.
Let’s take a look at this example. You want to buy warm knee-high boots, a woolen sweater, jeans and a winter jacket. The actual weight of your shipment (including packaging) is 8 kg. Package dimensions are 30cm x 50cm x 50cm. To calculate the volumetric weight we need to multiply the three dimensions and divide the result by 5000: 30x50x50 / 5000 = 15 kg.
The volumetric weight is compared with the actual weight of the shipment and the higher of the two is used to calculate the shipment cost.The volumetric weight in our example is greater than the actual weight of 8 kg, therefore the volumetric weight would be used to calculate the price charged for shipping.
Of course, shipping rates vary from carrier to carrier and depend on the shipping route, but the thing you need to keep in mind is that your shipping costs may be higher if the item you ship internationally is small but heavy or light but big.
What can you do with all this info? Well, the main thing you can do is try to save some money on your next shipment by reducing its dimensional weight. You know how stores may ship a small item, such as a camera or a smartphone, in a huge box surrounded with styrofoam peanuts or bubble wrap? If this box is shipped internationally, the shipping fees may rob you of the joy of finally getting the gadget you really wanted. Using a forwarder in the store’s country may help you save quite a bit.
For instance, forwarders on Parcl.com offer package consolidation as a service. What that means is that someone takes your purchases out of the box they came in, removes the bubble wrap, the styrofoam and whatever else there might be (like coupons or advertisements), and repacks your items into the smallest box they could be shipped in. That shrinks the package dimensions and therefore reduces the dimensional weight often resulting in significant savings on shipping. If you have a friend or a relative in the store’s country, but have never thought of using them as a forwarder, you may want to try it. It may be well worth it.
Hopefully, now that you know this trick, you will not have to overpay for shipping ever again and will have more fun shopping internationally!