On June 24, 2019 the US Postal Service threw us small business crafters for a loop when they announced new shipping rates for larger boxes. Here’s what happened: the postal service changed their dimensional weight pricing formulas and are now placing more emphasis on the size of the box than the weight. Which means bad news for those of us that ship large items (like 24″ wreaths). A few screenshots from a recent Facebook live I did:


As you can see, the “old” formula (length of box X width of box X height of box) had a divisor of 194 and it was limited to Zones 5-9. But the “new” way has a divisor of 166 and is applicable to all Zones 1-9. Making the situation even worse, USPS included Parcel Select Ground in the increase and removed the ability for individual sellers to purchase Retail Ground (a less expensive alternative) online. 🙁 Now the only way to get those cheaper rates is to actually go IN to the post office. Not what I want to do with a bunch of extra large boxes, that’s for sure. What a pain! UPDATE: Ground shipping is now also included in dimensional pricing and not a good alternative anymore.

So what do you do if you’re an online seller?

  • find out what your new “normal” is – for me shipping wreaths it is an average of $25-30 and I recalculate periodically to make sure that is still correct
  • keep the overall size in mind when creating
  • keep your box size as small as possible – I use 22x22x6 or 20x20x8 if possible (the largest I use is 22x22x8)
  • use accurate size (shipping measurements written on a box are technically the inside measurements) and weight (I use this postal scale from Amazon)
  • try to keep the shipping costs commensurate with the cost of the item (i.e. customers will expect higher shipping costs for larger/more elaborate designs but not for small inexpensive pieces)
  • add part of the shipping cost into the cost of the item itself OR add the entire amount into the cost of the item and show “free shipping”
  • look at all your options – You can use GoShippo or Shipstation to compare Fedex and/or UPS rates. With Shipstation you can connect your Shopify or Etsy account with your business Fedex or UPS accounts which could have better rates if you have been able to negotiate them with the carriers directly. Otherwise, there is a standard discount on their site. You can also use PirateShip but they only show USPS rates (and they’re the same rates as Etsy for these larger boxes). I know it’s hard to see but I did a test with the same address in all four systems and got the exact same numbers for USPS Priority:

shipping rates compared

What NOT to do:

  • Don’t use the UPS store or a small shipping center that likely has extra fees added into the normal shipping costs
  • Don’t use calculated shipping in your Etsy shop if you have large boxes because it will show your buyers very high costs that will scare them away. You can’t use Fedex calculated rates in your Etsy listings and you can’t ship UPS at all through Etsy so it won’t be showing your customers any options except USPS Priority or Parcel Select Ground which could both be costly.

Do you have any other shipping tips you’ve learned recently? I’d love to hear them! Comment below!