How to Measure a Box For Shipping: Four Shipping Factors

Bradley Johnson
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    Having your own eCommerce business gives you financial and creative freedom as you learn how to sell products online. You can build a compelling digital brand in record time with the right eCommerce software. With the help of a comprehensive eCommerce marketing strategy, customers will appreciate your offerings just as much as those in physical stores.

    If you’re starting an eCommerce business from home, there are multiple responsibilities to be aware of. In addition to eCommerce marketing, inventory tracking, and order processing, there is customer service.

    Excellent service includes shipping and handling, a key part of which is measuring your products to fit in appropriately sized boxes. When your boxes are packed up, you can read up on how to print shipping labels at home and look through eCommerce shipping companies

    Continue reading for tips on measuring tools, common box sizes, and how to get the most out of your eCommerce packaging

    How to ship a package eBook download

    Common Box Sizes for Shipping

    Before you rush off to buy any box that you think will work, take the time to learn what common box sizes are. You may sell numerous products that are different in size, and it can be difficult visually spotting which packaging is sufficient for various products. Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to shipping, and a box that’s too large will cost you greatly.

    Like our shipping blog posts? You may also love our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.

    Here are some of the most commonly used box sizes and product examples that can be shipped in them: 

    • 17” x 12 ⅜” x 12 ⅜”: books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, media items, small electronics 
    • 18” x 16” x 18”: towels, lamps/lampshades, home decorations
    • 18” x 18” x 24”: kitchen appliances, pillows, pool and outdoor equipment
    • 24” x 20” x 24”: drapes and collapsed curtain rods, larger appliances, sports gear

    Common eCommerce Packaging and Product Examples

    Whether you’re involved in direct to consumer markets or wholesale sales, your products need to reach customers in mint condition. The packaging you end up using will depend on your products and their transportation requirements. However, it helps to be familiar with common materials so you don’t waste time or money. 

    Here’s a list of common eCommerce packaging options and products that are well-suited for them: 

    • Toys
    • Recreational goods
    • Lifestyle items
    • Plastic goods (food and storage containers)
    • Decorations
    • Art supplies and craft materials 
    • Smaller boxes are good for selling cookies online
    • Glassware, ceramics, fragile items
    • Kitchen appliances
    • Small to medium electronics
    • Computers and monitors
    • Often used for selling alcohol online
    • Overboxes (styrofoam case or cardboard inside of a box):
    • Frozen, chilled, or perishable food
    • Dry food items (nuts, dried fruit, powders, etc.)
    • Items that need to remain flat during shipping
    • High-value electronics or other valuables
    • Automobile or motorcycle parts
    • Ideal for selling food online
    • T-shirts, wristbands, hoodies, bandanas, other types of clothing and accessories
    • Malleable or soft items
    • Products that aren’t at risk of being bent or broken
    • Small electronics
    • Souvenirs, trinkets, gift shop items
    • Small toys and children’s goods
    • Office supplies

    Depending on the product, you may need to add packing paper, bubble wrap, or other protective materials. If your chosen material feels like too little or too much, continue experimenting with packaging options until you find the right fit.

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    The Measuring Tools and Knowledge You Need

    The main principle to understand about box measurement is dimensions are measured on the inside, not the outside. When you’re fitting a product to a package, priority number one is being able to fit the product inside (including padding materials). The only time external measurements matter is loading boxes onto a truck or fitting a package into a dropbox. 

    Measuring any box size is straightforward when you have the right equipment and simple strategies on hand. If you already know your box’s dimensions, you can start packing, but otherwise, you’ll need some tools. 

    Here is the equipment that will make measuring your boxes a cinch: 

    • Ruler. A ruler is the simplest measuring tool of them all, but it may be the only one you need. Simply measure the height, length, and width of your box on the inside. Make sure you only measure up to the flap creases and not beyond them, otherwise you’ll end up with inaccurate measurements. Write the measurements down on paper. 
    • Tape measure. Using a tape measure is optional if you already have a ruler, but it does come in handy for larger boxes. Use this the same way you would a ruler and simply write down the dimensions of your boxes.
    • Pen or pencil. When you’re testing how a given product fits in a box, it’s important to see how much leftover space you’ll have. First, place your product in the box. Second, using your ruler or tape measure, mark a small line inside the box at the height and width of your product. This helps you visualize how much room you’ll have for padding, like air bags and packing peanuts. 
    • Notepad. You’ll need some paper to write down measurements and keep notes. 
    • Painter’s tape (or similar light adhesion tape). Using tape when measuring is optional, but it can help you determine whether or not a product will fit. If you’re test-packing a product for the first time, boxing it up with painter’s tape is a low-risk way of seeing if the box will accommodate it. 

    Leveraging Your Box Measurements for Team Efficiency 

    Once you’ve measured all the boxes you’re using, it’s important to share that information and delegate tasks. Take the measurements you wrote down on paper and add them to an online spreadsheet.

    This way your shipping and handling employees can access it whenever and update information as needed. They can also use this information to develop custom subscription boxes if your company is shifting towards a subscription box business model

    Frequently Asked Questions About How to Measure a Box for Shipping

    Getting the right box size for any of your products is important. You don’t want a box that’s too big or too small, otherwise, you risk the product getting lost or damaged. 

    To minimize the amount of time you spend measuring a box, it helps to have some background knowledge. Here are a few frequently asked questions on box measuring: 

    How do you measure dimensions of a box?

    Measuring the dimensions of a box is done by first measuring the length, then the width, then the height of the box. Always measure from the inside, as products need to be able to fit underneath box flaps, not over them.

    Like our shipping blog posts? You may also love our warehouse content. Check out our warehouse management eBook here.

    What is the LxWxH?

    The length times width times height is the volume of a box or shipping container. This formula is used when calculating costs volumetrically or when specific package information is requested by a shipping partner.

    Does shipping prices depend on package size?

    Yes. One of the main reasons why you should properly measure boxes for shipping is the fact that incorrect measures might cost you more. Check our guide on USPS and UPS overnight shipping costs.

    How do you measure a box in inches?

    You can measure a box in inches by using a ruler or tape measure. Gather the length, width, and height (or depth) of your box, then multiply all the numbers to get your cubic measurement. 

    For example: 14 inch length x 8 inch width x 4 inch height = 448 cubic inches
    How to ship a package eBook download

    Did That Measure Up?

    Shipping products to customers is much easier when you know your box sizes. Learning how to calculate shipping costs and determining shipping costs by weight is also faster. You don’t need to spend more time than necessary on eCommerce shipping details because you’ll have half the work already done.

    It's good buy a shipping label printer to print labels and a packing slip for each sale, too. This ensures your customers can quickly find their RMA number, if needed.

    As your company makes more sales over time, you’ll have additional methods for getting products to customers like bulk shipping.

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