If you’re facing issues relating to stranded inventory on Amazon, it can hurt your business. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to fix stranded inventory. Let’s look at how this happens, what to do to fix it, and how to prevent the same error moving forward.
If you’re facing issues relating to stranded inventory on Amazon, it can hurt your business. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to fix stranded inventory. Let’s look at how this happens, what to do to fix it, and how to prevent errors moving forward.
What is Stranded Inventory?
FBA runs on an automated system, which means that inventory shipments must have complete and exact details to be processed. If something is wrong with a bunch of inventory and the details don’t match up, you might get a stranded inventory error message. What this basically means is that the Amazon system doesn’t know what to do with your inventory.
It’s up to you to fix what’s wrong with the inventory from a particular shipment. Until you do something about it, not only is that inventory not available for purchase, but it will cost you storage fees. Moreover, stranded inventory issues count against you on the Inventory Performance Index. If your score gets pushed way down, Amazon can limit your allotted storage space or charge you higher fees.
Types of Stranded Inventory
Stranded inventory can happen for many reasons, but here are some common ones:
Listing Error – items in a shipment don’t have corresponding listings on Amazon or there are errors on the listings
Pricing Issue – no prices for the items in a shipment are entered on the listings or the prices are deemed by Amazon to be too high or too low and the listing is suppressed
Tally Error – the items in a shipping plan don’t match the items in the actual shipment (unexpected items or missing items)
Qualification Required – you do not yet have brand or item approval to sell in a certain category
Restricted ASIN – Amazon has restricted the sale of an ASIN (due to intellectual property concerns, product quality or safety, etc.)
Fixing Stranded Inventory
The first step to fixing stranded inventory is understanding what’s wrong.
Log into Seller Central and navigate to the “Fix Stranded Inventory” tab under “Manage Inventory” on the “Inventory” dropdown menu. Any stranded inventory errors will be indicated and explained on that page. All you need to do is follow the instructions to the right of the stranded inventory status to fix the problem. You will click through to where you need to go to give Amazon the needed information.
If you don’t understand what to do, you can always reach out to Amazon support or check the forums and FAQ pages.
If after an hour or so you are still getting the same error, contact Amazon support for help. Sometimes there are bugs in the system and they need to go in from their end and set things right. Sometimes there is more than one problem, or they need more time to reconcile the issue. In any case, you should be aware of any hitches so you can do what you need to do on your end until it’s completely resolved. The sooner stranded inventory can be fixed, the better.
Let’s take our common stranded inventory errors and fix them:
Listing Error – Create listings for the items in the shipment showing the error or relist items that are marked out of stock bur are not actually out of stock.
Pricing Issue – Set an acceptable price for each item in the shipment showing the error.
Tally Error – Navigate to the “Reconcile” tab of the shipping plan with the error then select the correct solution from the dropdowns next to each item (unexpected or missing) and upload document proof of the actual contents of the shipment for Amazon verification.
Qualification Required – Navigate to “Add a Product” under the Inventory menu to apply for brand or item approval then click the “Relist” option on the stranded inventory page after approval. (If unapproved, create a removal order and sell the item elsewhere.)
Restricted ASIN – Check your email and Performance Notifications for specific details on the issue. You may only have the option to create a removal order and have the items returned to you. In this case, you’ll need to delete the listing because ASINs that become restricted are often permanently removed from the Amazon catalog, so relisting is impossible. (Sometimes you can file an appeal to resolve the issue and relist the ASIN. We don’t recommend going through this tedious process, however, unless you have invested deeply in this inventory and can’t sell the items anywhere else.)
Preventing Stranded Inventory
Maintenance is the key to avoiding errors like stranded inventory that can throw a monkey wrench into the smooth operations of your Amazon business. Here are the steps to take to keep things running efficiently:
1. Create listings with complete information before confirming shipments.
Amazon will allow you to put off adding a price or images and other details. Do not do this unless you absolutely have to because it is likely to cause problems down the line. It’s much better to have a nicely optimized listing first, anyway, so that it can gain traction faster once inventory arrives and it goes live.
2. Be accurate when creating shipments on Amazon.
We understand that arrangements with suppliers can sometimes be difficult. Putting a little bit more effort into checking in on orders, however, is easier than trying to track down and fix stranded inventory later. You don’t need the shipping labels until production on an order is complete, so you can confirm the count before creating a shipment. If there are still significant changes after this check, it’s better to delete that shipment and create a new one that matches the actual shipment exactly.
3. Do your research before listing items and sending inventory in to Amazon.
A simple check on what you can and cannot sell can save you a lot of time and money.
4. Check the Manage Inventory page weekly to see if there are any issues.
You may be dealing with a lot of shipments all at once or have someone else handling that. It’s a good idea in these cases to check in once a week to make sure everything is ok. It only takes a few minutes and can save you a lot of headache. (If you don’t see the “Fix Stranded Inventory” tab, then that means there are not issues.)