Shipping Artwork Overseas – When is Volumetric Weight Calculated?

Kiwi Sunrise

As many of you will know, I have been creating artwork for many years now and have had to ship it overseas on several occasions. But there’s one tricky aspect to calculating shipping costs, and that’s when the volumetric weight is taken into account instead of the actual weight.

So what exactly does this mean?

Well, it means that when you have a larger sized parcel which is quite light in weight, the carrier is entitled to quote a price based on the volume rather than on the actual weight.

I’m going to use my chunky art frames as an example to explain this concept.

For their size, these frames are relatively light. The actual finished painting weighs around 1kg and with all the packaging and reinforcement on, the final weight is around 2kg. However, the dimensions are 60cm x 60cm x 6cm (packaged) and statistics show that parcels of this size typically weigh around 6kg. So the shipping for my paintings is calculated by the volumetric weight of 6kg instead of 2kg.

Whatever yields the larger figure is taken as a basis for calculations for shipping. So the costs for a smaller parcel that weighs a lot are based on the weight.

When you visit the carrier’s website, there is normally a function for getting a quote by entering weight and dimensions of your parcel. You will be informed how they make the calculations for you.

Heads they win, tails you lose.

I have no idea how the calculations are made in other countries but this is what is done in the UK. It serves no purpose to fret over it, as this is simply the way things are done. And it’s important to explain this to your customers.

A few years ago I had a customer in the Netherlands who ordered a chunky mandala picture as a wedding gift for her husband. When I invoiced her with the costs prevalent at that time, she reproached me for being dishonest and trying to get more money out of her. She had gone online and thought she had found the ‘real’ cost of the shipping.

I had to explain that I was being charged the volumetric weight, as the large parcel was light and therefore was being bumped up on a par with heavier parcels of the same dimensions. Despite explaining what was happening and apologising, I lost the sale.

So imagine my relief when today I discovered a really cheap option for shipping my artwork, despite the volumetric weight calculations. It suddenly puts me back in a very competitive space of overseas shipments for both Europe and the USA.

But my tip to you is to make a point of letting customers know about the situation well in advance, so they know exactly what your costs are based on. It makes for better customer service.

And just to let you know, ‘Kiwi Sunrise’ is available for purchase and can be shipped to you in Europe for £18. To find out more click on the painting in the photo at the top of this post. Thanks.

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4 Responses to Shipping Artwork Overseas – When is Volumetric Weight Calculated?

  1. Does not seems fair. They could at least charge just half the rate because it’s light for it’s size. Things like this tend to burn me.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      You’ve got a good point there Rowena. They reckon that they would be losing out if they did that, but it makes shipping unnecessarily expensive for us all. All my US friends can ship so much more cheaply.

  2. Monica says:

    I was thinking of selling online but I gave up for the same reasons. I am going to try the cheap option. Thanks for changing my mind.

    • Fiona Stolze says:

      Hi Monica – I see you are based in Dublin. I lived there for 3 years and to be honest, it was a nightmare because my shipping costs were all about 50% more due to the fact that parcels had to go via the UK for most things. I’m going to do a bit more research generally and see if I can put some figures together. Let me know what you find. 🙂

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