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This article applies to selling in: United States

In-Stock Head Start

With In-Stock Head Start, customers can find and buy products, even when they are temporarily out-of-stock.

Even with the best inventory planning, popular products can sometimes go out of stock, and that can affect your product discoverability and sales. In-Stock Head Start can automatically make your out-of-stock products available for customers to find and buy.

Customers will benefit from a wider selection of products, and you could see higher or more consistent sales.

How In-Stock Head Start works

In-Stock Head Start uses innovative technology to predict which of your out-of-stock products are most likely to come back in stock soon. Our predictions are based on your shipment information and past replenishment behavior. We’ll then make these products available for customers to find and buy.

If you have created a shipment that’s on its way to a fulfillment center, we’ll use that information to estimate the in-stock date for your products and provide an estimated delivery date to customers. If you haven’t created a shipment, or if we aren’t confident of a shipment’s arrival date, a “Temporarily out of stock” message will display. These products will not display an estimated delivery date to customers.

Note: We might not make all of your out-of-stock ASINs available to customers before the products reach the fulfillment center. This could occur if we aren’t confident that the product will be restocked on time.

Important: To increase the probability that your out-of-stock inventory will be made available to customers, use Amazon Carrier Central, the Amazon Partnered Carrier program, or, for China-based sellers, Amazon Global Logistics.

For a seamless customer experience, plan to maintain enough inventory to cover four to eight weeks of expected sales at all times. Create a shipment as soon as inventory levels fall below this level. Tracking IDs are required for non-partnered carriers and help us predict a more accurate delivery promise.

To learn more, watch our tutorial video.

How you could benefit

In-Stock Head Start has a number of potential benefits:

  • Discoverability: Temporarily out-of-stock products that are likely to be restocked soon will appear in search results, which gives customers a wider selection and can help to increase traffic to your product detail pages.
  • Sales: Customers can buy temporarily out-of-stock products, which can result in improved sales.
  • Inventory productivity: Customer orders that are taken before inventory reaches the fulfillment center can reduce the time between shipment and sale.
Important: Your fees and Inventory Performance Index (IPI) score will not be affected.

Reconciling your inventory

You can continue using the same Seller Central reports and tools that you've been using to reconcile your inventory.

The Available quantity on Manage Inventory reflects the number of units of a SKU that are in the Amazon fulfillment network and that can be picked, packed, and shipped.

The Inbound quantity reflects the number of units of a SKU in shipments that are on their way to the fulfillment center, including units that are available through In-Stock Head Start. If your inventory is eligible for In-Stock Head Start, the offer for your temporarily out-of-stock item will show as Active.

To see the number of units that are available through In-Stock Head Start, go to Manage Inventory, click the down arrow next to a product's Available quantity, and in the drop-down menu find the Future supply buyable quantity.

To see number of units that have been bought while inventory is on its way to the fulfillment center, go to Manage Inventory, click the down arrow next to a product's Available quantity, and in the drop-down menu find the Reserved future supply quantity.

For example, if you see 70 units of a particular SKU as Reserved future supply and 30 units as Future supply buyable, it means that 70 units have already been bought while the shipment is on its way to the fulfillment center and that 30 units are still available for customers to buy.

You can also find information about In-Stock Head Start units in the Manage FBA Inventory report.

Note: The Reserved future supply and Future supply buyable on Manage Inventory are currently underestimating the quantity for a small number of ASINs. We are working to fix this issue.

Frequently asked questions

How can I be sure Amazon will deliver customer orders on time?

With In-Stock Head Start, if a customer places an order for an out-of-stock item, the delivery date will be based on the estimated in-stock date. If your shipment to a fulfillment center is delayed, we’ll adjust the in-stock date. If the shipment is not created at the time of customer order placement, a “Temporarily out of stock” availability message will display and will not show a delivery promise.

Should I change my inventory replenishment cycle because of In-Stock Head Start?

In-Stock Head Start is intended for products that occasionally go out of stock. It is not meant to substitute for your regular inventory replenishment schedule.

Staying in stock will lead to the best customer experience and could lead to higher sales. Plan to restock your products to maintain enough inventory to cover four to eight weeks of expected sales. For recommendations, go to Restock Inventory.

Why aren't all of my products available to customers if my In-Stock Head Start status is active?

It could take up to 48 hours to make your products available to customers after we get the estimated arrival date from carriers through Amazon Carrier Central, the Partnered Carrier program, Amazon Global Logistics, or through Tracking IDs that you have provided.

Also, to protect the customer experience, we might not make all of your out-of-stock ASINs available to customers before the products reach the fulfillment center. This could occur if we aren’t confident that the shipment will arrive on time and contain the expected number of products.

What happens if I pause In-Stock Head Start?

To temporarily pause In-Stock Head Start, go to the program page and click Pause. Shipments that are created 72 hours after we confirm via email that you have paused In-Stock Head Start won’t be available for customers to find and buy before the items reach the fulfillment center.

Note: Go to the new In-Stock Head Start program page to check your status or pause the program.

Why didn't I get an email confirmation after I clicked "Pause feature" or "Reactivate now"?

If you haven't seen an email confirmation within 48 hours, check to see if it was delivered to your junk email folder.

If you didn't get the email, it could be because you unsubscribed from Amazon emails or the email address on your seller account is different from the one you normally use.

You can always check the program page to see your In-Stock Head Start status. It can take up to 48 hours for your status to update after you pause or reactivate In-Stock Head Start.

What happens when Amazon adjusts the delivery promise to customers, but my shipment is received at the fulfillment center before that date?

Customers might get their order earlier, based on the actual shipment-received date.

My In-Stock Head Start inventory has been stranded. Does this affect my IPI score?

No. Your IPI score isn't affected by stranded inventory that hasn't arrived at fulfillment centers.

How does Amazon determine which inventory to include in In-Stock Head Start?

The out-of-stock products that will be available for customers to find and buy before products reach the fulfillment center are based on a number of factors. These factors include past shipments that contained the expected number of products, the historical accuracy of the carrier, and fulfillment center capacity.

For example, if you consistently ship the number of products listed in your shipping plan, your products have a higher probability of being made available to customers when temporarily out of stock.

What happens to my Sponsored Ads when my out-of-stock products become active due to In-Stock Head Start?

Any active Sponsored Ads that are configured for your out-of-stock product will continue to run when the offer becomes active again and the product is made available to customers. Use the campaign manager to assess and manage the existing campaign. For more information, go to Campaign management.

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