The Role of Packaging in WooCommerce Shipping Costs

Role Of Packaging In WooCommerce
Author Bartosz Gajewski
Reading time:
5 minutes read

As a beginner store owner on WooCommerce, you might find yourself grappling with the intricacies of shipping costs. Understanding the factors contributing to these costs is crucial for running a successful business. One often overlooked aspect is the packaging. In this blog post, we will explore the impact of packaging on WooCommerce shipping costs and provide practical tips to optimize this element of your fulfilment process.

The Importance of Proper Packaging

Before diving into the details, let’s understand why packaging matters in WooCommerce shipping. Proper packaging serves multiple purposes:

Protection and Safety

The primary function of packaging is to protect your products during transit. It acts as a shield against bumps, shocks, and other hazards that may occur while your package is en route to its destination. You can minimize the risk of product damage and customer dissatisfaction by ensuring secure packaging.


A 2018 IPSOS study revealed that 78% of U.S. consumers prefer to buy products packaged in cardboard or paper, perceiving them as more environmentally friendly. This trend underscores a growing public concern for the environment and an increased awareness of sustainable practices. Consumers are increasingly informed and conscious about their environmental impact, particularly in purchasing decisions. Consequently, ecommerce packaging companies are urged to adapt by prioritizing cardboard or paper packaging solutions over plastic. This shift reflects the evolving consumer demand for environmentally responsible packaging options in the ecommerce sector.

Branding and Customer Experience

Packaging also presents an opportunity to showcase your brand identity and leave a positive impression on your customers. A well-designed package that reflects your brand aesthetic can enhance the overall unboxing experience and create a lasting connection between your customers and your products. Excellent and relatively cheap solutions are branded boxes or even tapes. An additional low-cost solution that is very good for user experience is a card added to the package to thank you for your purchase. 

All this is confirmed by another IPSOS survey, which indicates that 72% of buyers say packaging design impacts purchase choices

Choosing the Right Box Size

Selecting an appropriately sized box for each order is crucial in minimising shipping costs. Using too large boxes wastes space and leads to dimensional weight charges – essentially paying for empty air instead of product weight alone.

Dimensional Weight Pricing

Shipping carriers often use dimensional weight pricing to calculate shipping costs based on package size rather than just weight. This means that if you use an oversized box for a lightweight item, you could end up paying more than necessary. You can avoid these additional charges and reduce your shipping expenses by choosing the right box size.

Volumetric Weight Pricing

Delivery services typically determine package pricing based on the size and weight of the shipped items. However, the overall cost can also be influenced by the amount of space the package occupies. The capacity of a vehicle, like a truck or plane, to accommodate packages depends on their weight and physical dimensions. This is particularly relevant for packages that are large in size but relatively light in weight.

To address this, many courier companies adopt the volumetric weight concept, sometimes called dimensional weight or DIM weight. This method allows carriers to account for both the space a package takes up and its actual weight when calculating shipping costs. By using volumetric weight, carriers can ensure that pricing reflects the real impact of a package on their shipping capacity.

Calculating Box Dimensions

To find the optimal box size for your products, follow these steps:

  1. Measure Your Product: Determine the length, width, and height of your product in inches.
  2. Add Packaging Material: Consider any necessary packaging materials like bubble wrap or packing peanuts that add extra dimensions to your product.
  3. Choose the Right Box Size: Select a box that provides enough space for your product and packaging material while minimizing excess room.
Box Measurements
Source: Sttark

The Impact of Weight on Shipping Costs

While box size is essential, paying attention to the weight factor when it comes to shipping costs is crucial. Let’s explore how weight influences pricing calculations and how you can optimise this aspect.

Weight-Based Shipping Rates

Shipping carriers typically offer weight-based shipping rates, meaning that heavier packages cost more to ship. By understanding how weight affects costs, you can strategize ways to minimize unnecessary weight and save on shipping expenses.

If you want to learn more about that topic, read our comprehensive guide on how to set WooCommerce weight based shipping.

Lightweight Packaging Materials

When it comes to packaging materials, opt for lightweight options that still provide adequate protection. For example, consider using air-filled cushions instead of heavy foam inserts or opting for lightweight poly mailers instead of rigid boxes whenever possible.

The Role of Package Type

The type of package you choose also affects both shipping costs and customer perception. Let’s explore some common package types and their impact:


Boxes are a popular choice due to their sturdiness and ability to accommodate various types of products securely. However, keep in mind that boxes can contribute to dimensional weight charges if not properly sized. Consider using lightweight, recyclable materials to strike a balance between protection and cost optimization.

Envelopes and Mailers

Envelopes and mailers are ideal for flat or lightweight items like clothing, documents, or small accessories. They are generally cheaper to ship than boxes. However, ensure that your products are adequately protected within these envelopes to prevent damage during transit.

Custom Packaging Solutions

Custom packaging solutions might be worth considering if you want to elevate your branding and provide a unique unboxing experience. While they can add an extra touch of professionalism and brand identity, be mindful of the additional costs involved in custom packaging production and shipping.

Optimizing Packaging for WooCommerce Shipping

Now that we understand the crucial role of packaging in WooCommerce shipping costs let’s explore some practical tips to optimise this aspect:

Conduct Regular Packaging Audits

Regularly review your packaging choices and assess their impact on shipping costs. Look for opportunities to downsize or switch to more cost-effective alternatives while ensuring product safety.

Use Box Packing algorithms

Optimising WooCommerce shipping involves using box packing algorithms to pack products efficiently and calculate shipping rates. The Flexible Shipping Box Packing plugin aids in this by enabling advanced box packing algorithms. 

Flexible Shipping Box Packing WooCommerce 49.00

Add to cart or View Details
Plugins used by 243,330+ shops
Last Updated: 2024-06-02
Works with WooCommerce 8.6 - 9.0.x

These algorithms consider product dimensions and weight, ensuring products fit into the most appropriate boxes, which is crucial for cost-effective shipping. This plugin helps determine the most efficient packing and corresponding shipping rates by configuring shipping boxes with precise dimensions and weight limits. It not only saves on shipping costs but also streamlines the packing process, making it more efficient and customer-friendly.

If you need to know how to use the box packing algorithm, check our step by step guide on how to set WooCommerce Shipping Rates based on boxes.

Utilize Live Rates Shipping Plugins

WooCommerce offers various shipping plugins that automate rate calculations based on package dimensions and weight. These plugins can simplify the process by generating accurate shipping quotes at checkout without manual calculations. A large group of WooCommerce plugins that can help with this are Live Rates Shipping plugins. These plugins offer real-time shipping rate calculations and other functionalities tailored to each carrier. In addition, Octolize plugins like UPS Live Rates, offer automatic box packing algorithms


Packaging plays a crucial role in determining your WooCommerce shipping costs. You can minimise expenses while maintaining product integrity during transit by understanding the importance of proper packaging size, weight considerations, package types, and optimisation strategies. Remember, thoughtful packaging benefits your bottom line and contributes to a positive customer experience. Invest time and effort into finding the right packaging solutions for your WooCommerce store.


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