How to Perfectly Measure a Box

It’s all about the measurements. Have you ever received a package with the contents rattling around inside? Maybe you’ve opened an enormous box and pulled out gobs of packing material (you know the stuff: bubble wrap, air pillows and packing paper) only to find a tiny product buried at the bottom.

Packaging mismeasurements can be costly to your business. It’s easy to spend extra on larger than needed boxes or extra filling material. Our goal is to aim for perfection. Let’s minimize the waste, protect the product and save on shipping costs. 

measuring tape

Interior Dimensions

The interior dimensions are used to determine the fit of products that go inside. The industry standard measurements you see when ordering or customizing boxes, are always for the inside. It will be displayed as:

L x W x D

To measure, place the box in front of you and measure the inside length, width, and depth to the nearest tenth of an inch. (Make sure to round up.) Once you have that information, you’ll want to order a box that uses the least amount of internal packing material while still protecting the product.

How to measure a box

If you’re still not 100% sure what size to order, most packaging providers will happily allow you to send a sample of your product for proper measurement. (They will return it safely to you.)

Using boxes specific for your needs can ensure product protection while improving your bottom line. A snug fit will greatly reduce the amount of packing material needed and create a more sustainable package. We call that a win.

Exterior Dimensions

Now for the outside of the box. Exterior dimensions are used to determine shipping costs. It’s helpful to know these dimensions for inventory purposes. (How many boxes can fit on a pallet? How many will fit inside your storage area?) To measure, you will still follow the same formula of L x W x D.

Here, you’ll want to understand the term “dimensional weight” or DIM. It’s a somewhat newer pricing technique carriers are using. Previously, most consumers chose boxes much larger than necessary, causing vehicles to fill up before reaching their physical weight capacity. In easy terms: you can now charged by how much space your package takes up in a truck, not necessarily by how much it weighs. (Ultimately, you benefit from using smaller package sizes.)

 To calculate DIM weight:

  1. Multiply length by width by height in inches. Round each measurement to the nearest whole inch. The total is the cubic size of your package.
  2. Take the cubic size and divide it by a dimensional factor (also called a DIM divisor.) This is a number determined by each major freight carriers. Right now it’s 139 for FedEx and UPS.
  3. The resulting number is your DIM weight.

The bigger number takes the prize. Carriers take the greater of the weights to determine shipping cost. (DIM weight vs scale-based weight.)

If you’re not in the mood to break out the calculator, sites like FedEx have easy to use dimensional weight calculators

Here’s the good news. With your measurements in hand, you can create a perfect box. One that protects your product with a snug interior fit and saves shipping with smaller exterior dimensions.

We’re ready to get started with your next project! Get a quote for the perfect sized packaging.

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