Setup Dimensional Shipping/Box Packing


The Dimensional Shipping Advanced Feature in ShipperHQ allows you to achieve more accurate Shipping Rates especially when getting rates from carriers like UPS and FedEx or when using USPS Flat Rate boxes. In this doc we’ll cover what Dimensional Shipping is, how it works in ShipperHQ, how to enable this feature, along with many of the options available in ShipperHQ in this area. In the end, the rates you receive from ShipperHQ will be as accurate or as inaccurate as your dimensional settings in ShipperHQ. While it’s nearly impossible to achieve 100% accuracy 100% of the time, with thoughtful configuration ShipperHQ makes it possible to achieve extremely high levels of accuracy.

What is Dimensional Shipping

Many ecommerce carts lack the features needed to calculate shipping accurately for FedEx, UPS and USPS.

For example, you often can’t

  • Define dimensions for your products
  • Choose to ship some products separately
  • Choose to ship some products together in the same package
  • Add insurance to the shipping
  • Split a product that exceeds the carrier’s weight maximum into multiple boxes

Our Dimensional Shipping offering in ShipperHQ gives you the ability to

  • Specify the dimensions of your products
  • Create different sized boxes for your products
  • Describe how different combinations of products are packed together for smart shipping
  • Ship some products in a separate box
  • Assign multiple box sizes to a product and choose when each box size is used
  • Split large products into multiple boxes with different dimensions

Whereas other solutions work by filling one box after another, Dimensional Shipping allows you to define exactly how your business packs different combinations of products.

When a customer goes to check out Dimensional Shipping works out how the products in the cart will be packed. Then it sends the dimensional weight and actual weight of the packages to your shipping carrier for accurate live shipping rates.

How Dimensional Shipping works in ShipperHQ

  1. ShipperHQ’s core dimensional algorithm looks at the product dimensions set on the eCommerce platform
  2. ShipperHQ then looks at the packages you set up in ShipperHQ
  3. It works out the best package(s) to use based on that information
  4. ShipperHQ takes the packages worked out for the order and sends this to the carrier is using to ensure accurate rating. If using custom rating, ShipperHQ will use the information to set rate based on what package is used.

Enabling the Dimensional Shipping Feature (Video)


Dimensional Shipping is one of many Advanced Features ShipperHQ offers, depending on your ShipperHQ Plan you’ll have access to a certain number of these Advanced Features. You can enable the Dimensional Shipping feature in your Account Settings under the Features tab in ShipperHQ.

On Magento or Zoey you’ll want to ensure you synchronise any new boxes/dimensional rule groups you create.

What You Need

For most merchants, Dimensional Shipping in ShipperHQ needs three significant pieces of information to perform its calculations:

  1. The dimensions of your products (defined on your products in your eCommerce platform)
  2. The dimensions of the packages you use to ship your products (called Boxes in ShipperHQ parlance, but these may be whatever you use from envelopes to pallets)
  3. Identification of any products or groups of products that need to be handled specially (ShipperHQ calls these Dimensional Rule Groups)

Please note that if the platform does not automatically add a 0 for decimals lower than 1 then it should be prefixed. I.e.: “0.5”, rather than “.5” should be entered as a dimension.

Dimensional Shipping for Live Rate Carriers

Dimensional Shipping for Live Rate carriers works by allowing ShipperHQ to workout on the fly the most efficient Box or Boxes to pack a customers order into based on the product dimensions you’ve defined on your products in your eCommerce platform and the Boxes you’ve defined in ShipperHQ. If you don’t use the same approach on all of your products, you can also use Dimensional Rules to set special handling for certain groups of products (see section below).

Once ShipperHQ has selected the best boxes based on what you’ve defined, it then makes a call out to the Carrier’s API with the package dimensions and weights as well as the basic information required to retrieve a quote from a carrier (i.e. origin and destination addresses, account number, account settings, etc.). Since the carrier is being provided with full package information, they are then able to return much more accurate rates than if they were provided with only shipment weight.

Dimensional Shipping for Custom Rate Carriers

Dimensional Shipping works differently for Custom Rate Carriers than it does for Live Rate carriers since you are setting the rate within ShipperHQ instead of calling out to a Carrier’s API to get the rate. More information is available in our Dimensional Shipping with User-Defined Rates article.

Options for Special Handling

In addition to the primary approach where ShipperHQ determines the most efficient box or boxes to use, you can also configure certain sets of products to be handled differently. These sets of products are called Dimensional Rule Groups in ShipperHQ. Dimensional Rules are defined in ShipperHQ and then applied on your products in your eCommerce platform so that ShipperHQ knows which products belong to which group.

The options available are:

    • Items which ship separately: this is items which are not packed into a box with other items (e.g. a large flat-screen TV). The product’s dimensions as set in your eCommerce platform are the dimensions used as the package dimensions.
    • Items which ship in multiple fixed boxes: this is for cases where a single item ships as several boxes. A good example here is an outdoor shelter tent which ships in three boxes, one containing the tarp, one containing the frame, and one containing the legs. You define the weight and dimensions of each of the component boxes in ShipperHQ.
    • Items which can only ship in certain boxes: this is used in cases where a product must ship in one of a certain set of one or more boxes. For example, if you ship ice cream as well as non-perishable products, your ice cream would need to ship in a cooler instead of a cardboard box where your other products can ship in standard cardboard boxes. You select the boxes products from this Dimensional Rule Group can pack into and ShipperHQ uses the dimensions set on your products in your eCommerce platform or the default set on the Dimensional Rule if none are set on your products to determine the most efficient box or boxes to pack into.  On Magento you can optionally not use dimensional rule groups and just assign possible shipping boxes on a product level

Master Box Packing

On the Magento platform we have support for setting master packing boxes on your SKUs. So for instance you may sell wine and it packs in cases of 12, this is the master box, but you can also ship in individual qty. If the customer adds 14 of that SKU to the cart and there is a master box setup then it would pack 12 in the master box and the other 2 in the leftover box (taken from possible boxes).

More Information

You can find more information about the options available in our Dimensional Rules category.

Next Steps

Now it’s time to do some testing. Test out scenarios with different combinations of products and ensure it is working as needed.