Why Does My Shipping Cost So Much? All of your Promo Product Shipping Questions Answered!

Have you ever been baffled as to how your order of 100 water bottles could end up costing you $300 in shipping? Well, you can finally rest easy tonight because today I’m here to tell you all of the little details that go into calculating your shipping costs.

There are many variables that affect the cost of shipping, so let’s run through them one by one so that you can see exactly how each factor impacts your order. Make sure you pay attention, just in case there’s a quiz at the end! Let’s start with the major players:

Weight: This factor is pretty straightforward. Your order will cost more or less depending on how much it weighs when placed on a scale. The more it weighs, the more expensive your shipping will be.

Dimensional Weight: Weight is all well and good, but not all of our items are very heavy. For example, items like koozies, lunch coolers, and tote bags are actually pretty light. However, they are typically shipped in large boxes. This is where dimensional weight comes into play. Even though your items may not weigh a lot, a large box still takes up a lot of room on the truck (or train, or plane).

So what the heck is dimensional weight anyway? Well, it’s essentially the cubic size of your package. Don’t remember what cubic size is or how to calculate it? That’s okay, neither did I until I started researching this blog post! (What can I say? I was an English major.)

The cubic size of your package is calculated by multiplying the height by the length by the width, or height x length x width. You can measure in either inches or centimeters.

Why-Does-My-Shipping-Cost-So-Much-Box-DiagramAccording to UPS, to determine the dimensional weight for domestic shipments, you divide the cubic size of your package (height x length x width)  by 166 to  get the dimensional weight in pounds. For international shipments you divide the cubic size of your shipment by 139 to get the dimensional weight in pounds. Or, if you measured in centimeters, you divide by 5,000 to get the dimensional weight in kilograms. You might be thinking, “That is crazy complex.” I know, right? That’s a whole lot of math just to be able to ship a box! But just bear with me.

So which one will you be charged for: actual weight or dimensional weight? Well, it depends on which one is bigger! Whichever of the two weights is the largest is your billable weight, and will be the weight that is used to calculate your shipping cost.


You can think of it like this: Let’s say you have a box of USB drives that weighs 20 pounds in a 6” x 8” x 10” box, so a dimensional weight of 3.5 pounds. You also have a box of custom stress balls that weighs 20 pounds in a 24” x 14” x 15” box, so a dimensional weight of 36.3 pounds. Even though both boxes weigh the same amount, since the stress balls come in a larger box, and therefore have a larger dimensional weight, they will cost more to ship simply because that box takes up more room on the truck.

Here’s a handy little chart to help you remember!

As you can see in the above chart, the heavier your items and the larger the boxes, the more expensive your shipping will be.

Shipping Method: We have several different shipping methods available to ensure that you always get your items on time. However, the pricing varies depending on which method you choose. Your shipping will always cost less if you ship using Standard Ground shipping. Then depending on whether you choose 3 Day Air, 2 Day Air, or Overnight shipping the price increases, with Overnight shipping being the most expensive. The faster you have your items delivered, the more expensive your shipping will be. If you have more questions about expedited shipping or rush production, you can head right on over here!

Transit DistanceAnother important factor in calculating your shipping is how far your promo items have to travel. This one is pretty straightforward. The more distance between the factory your items are shipping from and your delivery location, the more expensive your shipping will be. Why’s that? Because the further your items have to travel, the more fuel is used to transport them, which means more money is needed to get from point A to point B.

Here’s another handy chart!


As you can see, the further your items have to travel and the faster you need your items shipped, the more your shipping costs increase.

Think of it this way: If you have a large order of say, 1,000 water bottles, that’s about 20 boxes – the size of an elephant. If you need that shipped overnight, that means we’re essentially getting an elephant a last minute plane ticket across the country. You can see how that could add up!


Weight, dimensional weight, shipping method, and transit distance are the biggest players when it comes to your shipping costs, but there are a lot of other variables that can affect the price of shipping. Now that we’ve got the biggies out of the way, let’s move on to some of the other factors that can impact the cost of shipping:

Damage-resistant packaging for fragile items: Some of the items we offer are fragile and breakable. Any glassware, ceramic mugs, picture frames, and other fragile items will have to be packaged in special damage-resistant packaging and boxed up with packing peanuts and/or bubble wrap to make sure they get to you in one piece. All of that special packaging will be added onto your shipping cost.

International Shipping: If your items have to ship internationally your shipping rates will include any brokerage fees, taxes, and duties required to ship overseas.

How many locations your order is shipping to: This is also known as dropshipping. If you are shipping your items to more than one location you will incur a small fee per address.

Whether you are shipping to a business or residence: You may not have thought of this before, so here’s a tip! It is always more cost efficient to ship to a business than a residence. Just remember to make sure your office manager approves of your late night infomercial shopping sprees before you start having packages shipped to work!

Combustible/Flammable Items: If you’ve ordered items that are flammable or combustible (things like lighters, candles, and hand sanitizer), there will be an additional charge so we can be sure that your items don’t explode or go up in flames when they’re on their way to you!

Perishable ItemsLastly, if you order something tasty and edible, that means it’s perishable. Perishable items like food will need to be shipped more quickly or are sometimes packaged with dry ice to make sure they are still edible by the time they arrive on your doorstep, so there will be some additional charges added to your shipping costs for that.

PRO TIP: It is difficult to change your shipping or re-route your package once your products are in production. So keep in mind that re-routing your shipment can delay the arrival date and cost you a little more cash.

Thankfully, we do everything we can to make sure that you know what your shipping is going to cost before you place your order.

If  you are on a specific product page on our website, click the “Delivery Schedule” tab and type in your delivery zip code.

delivery schedule tab image

This will show you all the options available and how much they cost.

Or, if you are still on a category or search results page, you can click show shipping to display the shipping on select items. Make sure that you scroll down to put in your zip code as well!

catgegory shipping on


Please note that the shipping prices on these screen shots can change at any time.

If you’d like more hands on help, don’t hesitate to get in touch by emailing, giving us a call at 866-312-5646, or live chatting with one of our reps right on our website.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we can always ship on your UPS or FedEx account if you would rather have us directly bill you for the shipment. Setting up your own shipping account is easy and free. All you have to do is go to the UPS or FedEx website and follow their instructions.

Quiz time! (Yeah, I wasn’t kidding about that earlier.) Here are the questions: How do you calculate dimensional weight? Which shipping method is the most cost effective? Where do you go on our website to get your shipping quote? If you don’t know the answers to any of those questions, you might want to go back to the top and read through this post again!

Now that you know all of the variables that can impact the cost of shipping and how to get the most accurate shipping estimates, we hope that you can feel comfortable and confident with your order. Our sales reps are on your side! If you don’t take my word for it, take QLP Sales Manager, Casey McCambridge’s. He said, “We always do everything in our power to track down the most cost effective shipping estimates for our clients. We hate paying more for shipping just as much as you do!”

Does this guide help you understand your shipping costs? Are there any other questions you would like addressed? Feel free to leave a comment here or contact one of our friendly sales reps at!

Expand Your Brand!

Jenna Markowski

Jenna has a much easier time writing about the media and pop culture than she does writing about herself. She enjoys the simple things in life, like puns and typography. She is an avid fan of pop-punk, Halo 3, Spider-Man and origami, with a slight Taco Bell obsession. Her spirit animal is either a bulldog or a panda bear. You can also connect with Jenna on Google+.


  1. Erin Johnston

    Great article…very informative, I’ll be bookmarking this for customers. Thanks!

    P.S. love the elephant analogy! 🙂

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Erin! I hope your customers benefit from it!

      P.S. That elephant analogy was all Casey 😀

  2. Wash

    Woohoo, charts!

  3. Kat

    Great idea for a blog – and very informative! I’m going to bookmark this blog to pass on to my customers when these questions come up from them. I seem to get questions pertaining to this at least once a day – if not 50 times a day 🙂

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Kat! I’m glad you liked it and I hope this article helps you get asked about shipping at least a few times less each day!

  4. Gina

    This is so awesome! Explains so well the mysteries of shipping costs. I will definitely refer to this for clients.

  5. Bret Bonnet

    Wait, is shipping an elephant via UPS Ground an option?!?! 🙂

    • Jenna Markowski

      Haha, you can give it a shot! It would certainly be cheaper than trying to get it a last minute plane ticket! 🙂

  6. Mike

    Good article but you gave out the wrong information on the dim weight factor. The domestic dim weight factor is 166. If you are shipping internationally, then it becomes 139. Take care.

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Mike! Where did you find that information about the dimensional weight? The information I got was directly from UPS’ website, and they only state 139. You take care, too!

      • Mike

        The UPS website and the 2013 UPS Service Guide. Good luck.

        • Jenna Markowski


          Thanks for pointing this out! I did some more digging, and it looks like you’re right! I’ve updated the post accordingly.

          Have a good one.

  7. Kristy Tantilllo

    I really think this is an amazing article. It was first recognized and sent to me by the president of our company. We are going to repost it on our blog, giving you full credit, of course, and also a by-line.

    • Jenna Markowski

      Thanks, Kristy! That sounds good! I’m going to shoot you an email right now to go over some specifics. 🙂

  8. Sophia

    I agree with you Jenna. This article clearly explains well about some customers concerns and questions. Good job!

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