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USPS DIM Weight May Change the Way You Buy Supplies

Fastpast Packaging
USPS DIM Weight May Change the Way You Buy Supplies

You might say the USPS rate change that went into effect on Sunday is double jeopardy for online sellers. The cost of shipping online orders to customers goes up for large lightweight items. But likewise, the cost of receiving shipping supplies goes up – think of the seller who buys large rolls of bubble wrap needed to wrap their orders.

Jason Archambault of Fastpack Packaging Inc. has been selling packing and shipping supplies for eBay and online sellers for close to 20 years. Bubble wrap is one of his company’s bestselling products, and he shared with us how he’s adapting to the new DIM weight rate changes.

We explained the DIM Weight changes in this month’s Update newsletter. To summarize: beginning June 23, the US Postal Service is expanding DIM Weight to all zones, and it’s expanding DIM Weight pricing beyond Priority Mail to include Priority Mail Express and Parcel Select Ground. USPS DIM Weight still applies only to boxes larger than a cubic foot (1728 cubic inches), but the DIM divisor is going from 194 to 166 – meaning higher rates).

Archambault said his most popular size roll weighs and ships at the 3-lb rate. Orders going to customers in zones close to him ship Priority Mail, while orders going to farther zones ship Parcel Select Ground.

When the new rates take effect on Sunday, that same roll will be charged at the 29-lb rate. “To some zones it is more than tripling the cost to ship this light but medium size package,” he said.

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He said he has been working with shipping partners for alternatives, but in the meantime, he shared the following four ways he’s planning on dealing with the new rate increase:

1) We will be using FedEx / UPS to ship this product to our customers. While they both also use dimensional weight, we have been able to negotiate discounts based on the number of packages we ship with them. Customers in closer zones to us may see little to no change. Customers further away (we are in Florida) may see a slight shipping increase but still much, much less than the new USPS dimensional pricing.

2) Combine shipping (via FedEx/UPS). We will encourage customers to purchase bubble rolls in quantities of 2 or more rolls instead of one. We are able to ship 2 rolls in one package, often times lowering the cost to ship than if we shipped 2 single rolls.

3) Shipping one product as multiple packages. Products such as Bubble Wrap can be somewhat resized. Another solution may be to offer another, smaller length roll for those trying to save even more on shipping.

Remember, a package 12x12x12, 1 cubic foot, would not be dimensionally priced via the USPS. It would be cheaper to some zones to ship 2 half length rolls not effected by dim weight, than 1 roll that, due to dim weight would have to ship at the 29 lb rate.

4) We have added an alternative product that is a paper-based bubble alternative and has a smaller shipping and storage footprint. This means it will cost less to ship to you, and requires much less storage space. It ships in roll form in a dispenser box. When dispensed by hand, no machinery is required, it then expands to provide the honeycomb protection. Thus the shipping box is much smaller, and dimensional weight will not be a major factor. The cost to ship this will be less than the cost to ship the equivalent amount of Bubble Wrap.

Archambault said sellers who are used to receiving bubble wrap via USPS would likely see most suppliers changing the way they ship, whether it’s changing shipping carriers, or shipping multiple smaller rolls in separate packages via the USPS, keeping each package under the 1 cubic foot threshold.

And while that applies to bubble wrap, it could impact other types of supplies regularly purchased by online sellers for those that come in large, lightweight packages.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com.

3 thoughts on “USPS DIM Weight May Change the Way You Buy Supplies”

  1. Buying supplies is already expensive. Maybe I should go talk to the manager at my Office Depot to see if they’d start offering more shipping supplies in-store. I can get a large roll of bubble wrap there, but it doesn’t come in its own dispenser box.

    That means I would have to reuse the one I got from U-Line — at least until it wears out. I guess I could also install a wooden rod in my attic to place the roll on. It really helps having a small attic in my office to store supplies and inventory, especially since it’s under the huge oak tree, insulating it from temperature changes.

    Anywho, the types of things I can’t get there are a variety of box sizes in bulk and large bags of peanuts. While I do buy a large quantity of packing tape when I order boxes from U-Line, I can get them locally. U-Line offers large bags of peanuts, but they ship via freight services ($80 about 5 years ago).

    There is a U-Line facility in Texas, but it’s several hours from here. I wish it were closer so I could just go pick up my supplies and do away with the shipping cost altogether. If I can’t source things locally, I may have to start making the trip.

    Although, I should calculate the cost of gas, first. LOL One good thing about being on the Texas Gulf Coast is that our gas prices are lower than they are further north. I’ve driven a straight 14 hours to Kansas before, so I could certainly handle a long round trip within Texas.

  2. “We have added an alternative product that is a paper-based bubble alternative and has a smaller shipping and storage footprint.”

    What is the name of this product, please? I would like to check it out on the FastPack site. . . .

  3. I was shipping some 5 lb. boots Sunday and found they just fit into a medium size flat rate box. However, eBay shipping no longer gave me the option of using that box, although Regional rate box A was offered (too small) and Regional rate box B was offered (more expensive than normal Priority). Large Flat Rate box was not offered either.
    I thought this might be a programming error by eBay, so I logged into Paypal and shipped it there Medium Flat Rate Box, no problem, for $12.80.

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