Difference between Dead weight and Volumetric weight

If you run an online store, you’re probably familiar with words like ‘dead weight’ and ‘volumetric weight’. These terms are frequently used in eCommerce, but many vendors get confused between dead and volumetric weights.

Sellers often make mistakes while calculating weights, resulting in weight discrepancies. So, to avoid such hindrances, we’ve put up this guide to assist you to grasp the meanings, calculations, and differences between the two weights.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right into the main content.

What is Dead Weight?

dead weight

The deadweight is the actual weight of your package in grams or kilograms when you put the package on a weighing machine.

When logistic companies choose to charge a package based on dead weight, they ignore the physical dimensions of your shipment. There are some carriers in the market that charge depending on dead weight.

How to calculate Deadweight?

dead weight

Let’s understand by considering the example of a package containing feather pillows. To measure the dead weight of this package, we need to place this box on a weighing scale.

The weight displayed in grams or kilograms will be considered the dead weight of the package. Let’s assume the weight comes out to be 2kg, so the dead weight will be 2kgs.

However, it will be compared with the volumetric weight of your package and then you will be charged accordingly.

Calculation of dead weight is easy, isn’t it? Now let’s move on to volumetric weight. It’s as easy as this one.

What is Volumetric Weight?

The volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, is a measurement of the total size of a parcel. It is determined by a package’s length, breadth, and height.

Volumetric weight is a pricing method used by logistics companies based on the amount of space your shipment takes up on a truck or aircraft.

For instance, shipping a truck full of feather pillows is more expensive than shipping a truck full of smartphones.

As said earlier, volumetric weight refers to the length, breadth, and height of a package. Therefore, a big box of pillows will be considered heavier than a small box of cellphones.

How to calculate Volumetric weight?

dead weight

The volumetric weight of a parcel can be calculated by multiplying its length, breadth, and height (in cm) divided by 5000 which is a DIM divisor. The DIM divisor differs from carrier to carrier (some logistic companies use a divisor of 4000).

Let’s use the same example of a feather pillow package that measures 50cm x 30cm x 30cm. Using the above formula (length x breadth x height / 5000) multiply the three dimensions of the box and divide it by 5000.

(50 x 30 x 30 / 5000) = 9kg.

This gives you a volumetric weight of 9kg. This number is then compared to the dead weight of your parcel.

  • If the actual weight is less than 9kg, the company will charge for 9kg.
  • If the actual weight is more than 9kg, it will use that number for pricing.

Since, in this case, the volumetric weight (9kg) is higher than the actual weight (2kg). The logistics company will charge you for 9kg.

Key differences between Deadweight and Volumetric weight

ecommerce in india

The two main techniques used by couriers to calculate shipment charges are dead weight and volumetric weight. The weight of the shipment, measured in kilograms (kg) or pounds, is known as the actual weight or dead weight.

On the other hand, Volumetric weight, also known as dimensional weight, is a measurement method that uses the length, breadth, and height of a parcel to calculate its entire size. It is measured in kilograms or pounds, just as dead weight.

Volumetric weight = (length x breadth x height) / dimensional factor (DIM divisor).

Each courier sets this dimensional factor, also known as the cubic divisor, differently. As a dimensional factor, most couriers choose 5000 (metric units) or 139 (imperial units).

Therefore, these are some basic differences between Deadweight and Volumetric weight. Now, let’s understand why only volumetric weight is charged by most courier companies.

Why Do Couriers Charge by Volumetric Weight?

Imagine shipping a package full of feather pillows. The weight of the package itself is pretty light. But, It utilizes more space than other small but heavy packages. A delivery truck full of such big packages could quickly fill the capacity with very little actual weight.

Shipping large, light packages would reduce their profits.

Courier companies are always looking to maximize the number of packages on a vehicle while maintaining profitability, so they take this into account and use a pricing structure that will charge accordingly.

As a result, most shipping companies around the world have decided to calculate their shipping prices based on volumetric weight.

For instance, A parcel of feather pillows is light in weight but big in size. It will take up more space than usual packages, thus it will be charged according to its volumetric weight.

Importance of Calculating Accurate Weight and Dimensions

During transportation, the logistic companies will always measure the dimensions and weight of each parcel. This is a fully automated procedure that employs extremely precise laser measurements.

Therefore, If there is a discrepancy between what they measure and what you reported, you may be charged an additional fee based on the fluctuating shipping prices.

You will be charged to make up the difference if the parcel is larger/heavier than stated. This also applies in the opposite direction; if the parcel is smaller/lighter than stated, you will receive a partial refund.



So, wasn’t it easy? We are confident that the terms Volumetric weight and Deadweight won’t be that confusing to you anymore. Hope this blog could give you a better understanding of both the weights and answer all your questions related to the topic.

Although courier partners charge a lot for the shipment process, you can ship your products at affordable prices with Parceldeck. In addition, If you face problems with weight discrepancies, visit Parceldeck’s other blog on the respective topic.