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Optimising E-commerce Packaging for Shipping Tariffs

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Cartoon of a delivery van with The Packaging Club logo, about to deliver an e-commerce package, travelling down a street lined with houses somewhere in the UK.

In the world of e-commerce, packaging plays a pivotal role in not only protecting goods during transit but also in influencing customer perception and brand identity. However, beyond these essential functions, packaging is a significant factor in shipping costs.

Efficient packaging can drastically reduce expenses, particularly when shipping tariffs are considered. The challenge lies in striking a balance between ensuring product safety and minimising the size and weight of the package, positively affecting the shipping cost.

Table of Contents

Understanding Shipping Tariffs: A Focus on Royal Mail, DPD, UPS, and Evri

General Principles of Shipping Tariffs in the UK

In the UK, shipping tariffs are predominantly determined by a package's size and weight, with different couriers having their specific criteria and pricing structures. These tariffs are not just about the cost per package; they also influence operational decisions, such as stock management and distribution strategies.

Comparative Analysis of Tariff Structures for Royal Mail, DPD, UPS, and Evri

Each courier has unique tariff structures.

For instance, Royal Mail's tariffs are influenced heavily by size and weight, with distinct categories for letters, small parcels, and larger packages.

DPD focuses on a combination of weight and dimensions, setting maximum limits to accommodate their logistic models.

UPS, catering to a global market, has a comprehensive system, accommodating heavier and larger packages, but with specific restrictions and additional costs for oversized items.

Evri (formerly Hermes) operates with size limits that are quite accommodating for smaller e-commerce parcels, making it a popular choice for smaller businesses.

How Packaging Dimensions and Weight Influence Tariffs

The dimensions and weight of a package directly impact the shipping cost. Heavier and larger packages generally incur higher costs. This correlation makes it imperative for e-commerce businesses to optimise their packaging.

Reducing even a few centimetres or grams can shift a package into a lower tariff bracket, leading to significant savings, especially when scaled across hundreds or thousands of shipments.

Introduction to Royal Mail Tariffs

Royal Mail, a cornerstone of postal services in the UK, operates a comprehensive tariff system for both letters and parcels. The cost of sending a package via Royal Mail is determined by several factors, including size, weight, and service type.

Understanding these tariffs is crucial for e-commerce businesses looking to optimise their packaging strategies to minimise shipping costs while ensuring safe and efficient delivery of their products.

FormatMax weightMax lengthMax widthMax thickness/depth
Large Letter750g35.3cm25cm2.5cm
Small Parcel2kg45cm35cm16cm
Medium Parcel20kg61cm46cm46cm
Large parcel - via Parcelforce Worldwide30kg1.5m3m length and depth combined
TubesLength of the item plus twice the diameter must be less than 104cm, with the greatest dimension less than 90cm.

Here is a detailed size and weight guide from Royal Mail to help you better understand their tariff system.

Royal Mail Pricing (correct as of 10/1/2024)

For specific pricing, you can use Royal Mail's price finder tool.

Understanding DPD's Shipping Requirements

DPD, another major player in the logistics sector, sets its own criteria for parcel shipments. For e-commerce businesses using DPD, it is essential to know that parcels can weigh up to a maximum of 31.5 kg. The size (girth plus the longest side) of the parcel should not exceed 3 metres, and the maximum length is restricted to 1.75 metres. Adhering to these limits can help avoid extra charges or complications during shipping.

DPD Size Calculator

To calculate the right size for your parcel, you can use the DPD Size Calculator.

For more information, visit DPD's shipping guidelines.

UPS Shipment Size and Weight Limits

UPS, a global leader in logistics, has its own set of rules for package shipments. When packaging for UPS, keep in mind that parcels can weigh up to 70 kg. The length of a package can be up to 274 cm, and the combined length and girth cannot exceed 400 cm. Notably, packages weighing more than 25 kg require a special heavy-package label, and larger or heavier packages might necessitate freight shipping services. Understanding these limits is crucial for optimising packaging and ensuring cost-effective shipping solutions.

UPS guidelines on how to measure a parcel

For more detailed information, visit UPS's guidelines on shipping dimensions and weight.

Evri Parcel Size Limits

Evri, formerly Hermes, offers flexible parcel delivery options and sets specific size limits for parcels. To ensure quick and secure delivery, the sum of the two shortest sides, multiplied by two and added to the length, must be less than 245 cm. For ParcelShop or Courier service, the maximum length is 120 cm, and if you're using a Locker, the size limit is 66 cm x 41 cm x 38 cm.

Understanding and adhering to these limits can help e-commerce businesses avoid additional fees and ensure efficient delivery.

Evri parcel size limitations

For more details, check out Evri's parcel size and weight guide.


In conclusion, optimising e-commerce packaging for shipping tariffs is a strategic necessity for businesses looking to enhance profitability and efficiency. By understanding and adapting to the tariff structures of major couriers like Royal Mail, DPD, UPS, and Evri, businesses can significantly reduce their shipping costs. Implementing smart packaging solutions that reduce size and weight can lead to substantial savings, allowing companies to fit their products within more economical shipping brackets.

Ultimately, these optimisations not only save thousands in shipping costs but also contribute to sustainability by reducing material usage and waste. As e-commerce continues to grow, the importance of strategic packaging design in relation to shipping tariffs cannot be overstated.

Ready to Save on Shipping Tariffs? Discover How Our Packaging Audits Can Help!

Packaging auditing website portal

Are you looking to cut down your shipping costs and enhance the efficiency of your e-commerce operations? At The Packaging Club, we understand that navigating the complexities of shipping tariffs can be challenging. That's why our bespoke Packaging Audits are designed to help you streamline your packaging process, ensuring that you're not only saving money on shipping tariffs but also optimising your packaging strategy for sustainability and customer satisfaction.

Our Packaging Audits delve deep into your current packaging methods, analysing factors such as size, weight, materials, and design. We aim to identify areas where improvements can be made, offering you tailored solutions that align with your business goals. Whether it's about transitioning to more cost-effective materials, resizing your packages to fit into more economical shipping brackets, or simply making your packaging process more efficient, our team of experts is here to guide you every step of the way.

By choosing our Packaging Audits, you're not just reducing your shipping costs; you're also taking a step towards a more environmentally friendly and customer-centric packaging approach. With our comprehensive analysis and actionable recommendations, you can look forward to a packaging strategy that not only meets your logistic needs but also resonates with your brand values.

Don't let shipping tariffs weigh down your business. Take the first step towards smarter packaging with our Packaging Audits today!

This article was written by...

Nathan Calvert

Nathan is Head of Digital at The Packaging Club. He has worked in the packaging sector for over 15 years across food, consumer electronics, FMCG ecommerce and more, both directly in-house or as a freelance consultant.

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