Commentary | Viewpoint

Three Keys to Solving the Dimensional Weight Shipping Problem

Tags: Warehousing

Gregg Hague is partner in the supply chain practice at Sikich LLP, 630-210-3065

Shippers are familiar with FedEx’s and UPS’ new dimensional weight pricing policies. But many have put off doing anything to address them. Some companies have enjoyed a grace period from the parcel carriers. Others simply don’t know where to start.

However, those that don’t comply with the parcel carriers’ new pricing rules are already seeing—or will soon see—their shipping costs skyrocket. Fortunately, there are some immediate steps shippers can take to build more robust operations in their warehouses that will help them both deal with dimensional weight pricing and grow more efficient overall.

Add the tools that help you comply

The first step for shippers is to evaluate their parcel shipping systems. In the past, service level, zone, and weight determined the shipping price. Now, with box dimensions part of the equation, there’s an added level of complexity.

With the cost of noncompliance high, shippers should consider implementing third-party parcel shipping systems. Equipped to process package weight and box dimensions, systems such as Harvey Software, Lanham E-Ship, ProShip, and TrueShip, among others, can help shippers adhere to the new dimensional weight pricing rules. These systems also provide built-in label format compliance, automated manifesting, and email confirmations for all the major carriers, including FedEx, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service. Further, they integrate easily with in-house host systems, such as e-commerce and warehouse management systems, and allow shippers to shop around for the best rates.

As a result, third-party shipping systems can not only help shippers comply with dimensional weight pricing but also save money and streamline their overall packing and shipping processes.

Get accurate measurements

Capturing accurate dimensional measurements is the core of a successful shipping operation. Whether a shipper uses vendor boxes or its own standard-sized packaging, or picks and packs in boxes of various sizes, it needs accurate dimensional data to ensure compliance and avoid fines from parcel carriers.

Most shippers can do a better job of collecting and managing their data. Product dimensions may be supplied by vendors or captured on first-time receipt or during shipping. But no matter how shippers get their data, it is crucial that they develop a disciplined process for capturing product dimensions.

That’s where advanced dimension and weighing systems from companies such as CubiScan, ExpressCube, Parcelcube, and Postea, among others, can help. These systems allow shippers to easily and efficiently measure all of their products and get a better handle on their data. One thing shippers should keep in mind when considering different systems is to select one that can accommodate at least 80 percent of their most popular box sizes.

When interfaced with the parcel shipping system, dimension and weighing systems help ensure data is entered accurately, reliably—and quickly—with every package, thereby equipping shippers with all the tools they need to comply with dimensional weight pricing policies.

Improve your slotting process

One of the biggest challenges for shippers is the slotting process. Working with thousands of SKUs, warehouses often get cluttered, and in busy operations with constant time pressures and demands on personnel, products are rarely organized in a strategic fashion. In many cases, pick locations are oversized, and employees must walk long distances to collect products. In fact, travel in the warehouse—the time spent walking and searching for product—is the number one cost of order fulfillment.

However, with accurate product measurements, a shipper can work to optimize its slotting process. It can combine the accurate product dimensional data it now has on-hand with both historical and forecasted demand to calculate item cubic movement, which enables it to right-size its pick locations. This will help the shipper minimize picking travel time in the warehouse and speed up replenishment.

Confronting dimensional weight pricing head-on and taking immediate action to improve their shipping operations will enable companies to ensure they always comply. It’s time for shippers to take stock and turn the challenge into an opportunity to improve overall productivity in the warehouse.