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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 your temporarily out-of-stock products when your shipment is on its way to the fulfillment center.

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 will make your out-of-stock products available for customers to find and buy when your shipment is on its way to the fulfillment center and we’re confident about its arrival date.

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

How In-Stock Head Start works

Your out-of-stock inventory is eligible for In-Stock Head Start once the shipment is on its way to the fulfillment center. We'll use the information about your shipment to estimate the in-stock date for your products.

Note: To protect the customer experience, Amazon 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.

If your inventory is eligible for In-Stock Head Start, we may adjust the delivery promise to customers if we aren't confident that the shipment will arrive 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.

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: Taking customer orders 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 the shipment is delayed, we will adjust the in-stock date.

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 isn’t 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 4 to 8 weeks of cover of inventory. 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, or Amazon Global Logistics.

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?

You can temporarily disable In-Stock Head Start by clicking Pause feature at the bottom of the program page. 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.

You can also see your In-Stock Head Start status on the program page.

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

If you haven't seen the email 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 determination of which out-of-stock products will be available to customers is based on several factors. These factors include the history of shipments that contained the expected number of products, the historical accuracy of the carrier, and the fulfillment center’s 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.

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