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Ecommerce is an indispensable part of almost every retail business. Even if you have brick-and-mortar stores, giving your customers an online option will increase sales. However, for eCommerce businesses that sell large or heavy products, shipping can be expensive. Fortunately, there are ways to save money when you ship overweight or oversized packages. Here’s your guide to the cheapest ways to ship bulky and heavy products.

How to ship large items and oversized packages

The problem with shipping oversized packages has as much to do with the dimensions as the weight. A product can be feather-light and still be subject to extra shipping charges. It all has to do with dimensional weight.

Dimensional or DIM weight is a way of determining the price to ship a package based on the dimensions. Dimensional weight is calculated by multiplying the package height x length x width, then dividing by the carrier’s DIM factor. UPS, FedEx, and USPS all use DIM factors to determine the DIM weight of oversized packages. 

oversized packages

If you are shipping an oversized package, DIM weight can increase your shipping charges. When a box weighs 10 pounds but the DIM weight comes out to 15 pounds, you’ll be charged for shipping 15 pounds. If the DIM weight is less than the actual weight of your package, the shipping cost is based on the actual weight.

How to reduce DIM weight charges

There are several ways to reduce dimensional weight charges, however.

  • Packaging. Placing your products in boxes that are too large can lead to extra shipping costs. Pack each order in the smallest possible box to securely ship it. Many large products ship in the product packaging without overboxing. Review your packaging for ways to box your item more efficiently. Some large products may be cheaper to ship if you ship them disassembled. 
  • DIM factor. If you are a high-volume shipper, you may be able to negotiate lower shipping rates. You can also negotiate your DIM factor. A higher DIM factor will lower your DIM weight charges.
  • Ship by USPS. The US Postal Service has a DIM factor of 166. FedEx and UPS both use a DIM factor of 139 for commercial shipping accounts. A 50-pound package with dimensions of 24” x 24” x 30” would lead to DIM weight pricing at 125 pounds for FedEx and UPS. USPS would only charge you for 105 pounds. However, even with the higher DIM weight, UPS and FedEx would charge less to ship this oversized package to Zones 5 through 8. USPS is a better deal in Zones 2 through 4. To see how DIM weight pricing compares for different carriers, use Red Stag Fulfillment’s DIM weight calculator

Cheapest ways to ship large boxes

There is an art to shipping oversized packages in the smallest possible boxes. Your 3PL may be able to help. For example, Red Stag Fulfillment uses technology that calculates the optimal box size for each order. Then our custom packaging machine creates the perfect box. A better-fitting box doesn’t just save you money on DIM weight pricing. You’ll also save by using less infill. Plus, when products are packed in the right-sized box, they are less likely to slide around and get damaged during shipping.

Red Stag Fulfillment packaging machine

Another good way to save on shipping heavy or oversized packages is by reducing the number of shipping zones. Every major US carrier divides the country into shipping zones. Zones are calculated from the point of origin to the point of destination. Zone pricing adds in the factor of how far the parcel has to travel. The more shipping zones a package crosses to get to its destination, the higher the shipping cost. 

The price difference when you ship small items across more shipping zones might be just a couple of dollars. However, for heavy and oversized packages, extra zones can add 50% or more to the shipping cost. That can amount to a lot of money when you’re shipping large boxes.

Red Stag Fulfillment has tackled the shipping zone problem by choosing two warehouse locations that provide national fulfillment to 97% of the US in two days or less. Our eCommerce fulfillment centers in Salt Lake City, UT, and Knoxville, TN, are within a few shipping zones of most US addresses.

Red Stag Fulfillment fulfillment warehouse locations

Cheapest ways to ship heavy boxes

If your products are heavy, there are additional ways to reduce shipping costs. USPS Parcel Select offers competitive commercial shipping rates on parcels up to 70 pounds. FedEx Ground also has commercial discounts with a 70-pound weight limit. 

For even heavier items, try UPS Ground. The service accepts packages that weigh up to 150 pounds. For very large and heavy items such as furniture, FedEx Freight might save you money on shipping.

Oversized packages

Heavy products need to ship in stronger cardboard boxes to stay secure in transit. This can add extra weight and extra cost. You can save by palletizing and shipping products in bulk to a pickup location. This can either be at your brick-and-mortar store or a third-party receiving location. Offer your customers a price incentive for taking care of the last mile to their homes. Both you and your customers will save money on shipping.

Negotiated shipping prices are crucial for shipping large or heavy boxes economically. If your business doesn’t have enough volume to qualify for discounted rates, check with your eCommerce fulfillment partner. Some fulfillment companies (including Red Stag Fulfillment) have volume shipping discounts with major carriers that they can pass on to their customers.

Ship heavy or oversized packages economically 

One of the best ways to ship heavy and oversized packages cheaply is to work with the pros. When you’re choosing a fulfillment company, ask about their experience working with large products. At Red Stag Fulfillment, we pride ourselves on being the heavy, bulky, and oversized shipping experts. We’re happy to help you find ways to ship your oversized packages cheaply. Just give us a call!