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Guide to Managing Large Inventories

Ten Basic Tips | File Upload Options | Using SKUs Effectively | Inventory Best Practices | How to Quickly Remove All Listings

This page provides an overview of the best ways to manage a large amount of Amazon Marketplace inventory. Here you'll find insight into how Amazon seller tools systems work as well as techniques used by other successful sellers. For additional information on seller best practices, see our Inventory Management FAQs.

Ten Basic Tips

  1. Manage your inventory on a daily basis by using our inventory loading tools to make regular additions and deletions.
  2. Review the file formatting requirements prior to collecting your product information.
  3. Before creating files, decide on your strategy for assigning SKUs to your products.
  4. Maintain a system of unique SKUs that relate only to particular products. Don't reuse the SKU for one product with a different product.
  5. Add new inventory using the pre-built Inventory Loader and Book Loader templates, or a UIEE file.
  6. Use Price & Quantity feeds to make quick changes to existing inventory.
  7. After your file finishes processing, review the Processing Report for error messages and view the troubleshooting information provided in our Help pages.
  8. Use the strengths of each feed process. Alternate inventory feeds with Price & Quantity feeds to add, modify and delete listings efficiently.
  9. Reconcile your current Amazon inventory against your actual on-hand inventory using inventory reports and order reports. Avoid using Purge and Replace.
  10. If you need to quickly remove all of your listings, upload a Price & Quantity feed with all quantities set to zero.

File Upload Options

Manage your inventory on a daily basis by using our inventory loading tools to make regular additions and deletions. Review the file formatting requirements prior to collecting your product information.

The following feed processes and file formats are available on Amazon.com. See Volume Listing Tools for detailed information about listing templates.

  1. Add/Modify/Delete Inventory: Inventory Loader, Book Loader, or UIEE feeds
  2. Modify/Delete Inventory: Price & Quantity feed
  3. Create Product Pages: Book Loader and UIEE feeds

Using SKUs Effectively

Before creating files, decide on your strategy for assigning SKUs to your products. Maintain a system of unique SKUs that relate only to particular products. Don't reuse the SKU for one product with a different product.

The SKU is the most important field for managing your Amazon inventory. Always use unique SKUs that relate only to one particular product. When you assign a SKU, you uniquely identify your inventory and link it to a specific product in the Amazon catalog.

Don't reuse a SKU for one product with a different product. We recommend that you not reuse a particular SKU when attempting to list a different product, as this can create problems with your listings. For active listings, a duplicate SKU will cause a feed or listing error. If the SKU for a closed listing is reused for a new product, the data for the that listing will be deleted from your account records.

A SKU can be up to 40 characters long and can contain both letters and numbers. While SKUs can be any unique value you choose, a good practice is to use a combination of letters plus the product's ISBN or UPC. This method is an ideal way to manage multiple inventories or to list different conditions of the same product in a single account.

Example 1:
If you have separate inventories for two different stores that you'd like to combine in a single seller account, this can be easily handled by assigning a unique set of characters to each store and then combining these characters with the UPC or ISBN for the product. This method can also be used if you have different copies of the same product in different conditions; for instance, a used DVD and a new, factory-sealed copy.

Store 1 = AA Product UPC = 786936215595 SKU 1 = AA786936215595
Store 2 = BB Product UPC = 786936215595 SKU 2 = BB786936215595

Example 2:
If you'd like to use SKUs to indicate a bin location, a possible practice is to add a suffix to your SKUs to make them distinct when products in the bin change. For example, if you use SKU ABC to refer to a storage location, in the future you might use ABC-001 to indicate the first use of the location and use a numbering sequence as different products are placed in that location.

Example 3:
If you need to indicate a consignment contract, you might include a tag in the SKU such as XYZ-080930 (listing date) or XYZ-Contract1 (vendor number) to indicate how payment for the listing should be handled.

Important note: These are suggestions only, and you may find other ways to use SKUs that suit your business needs better. However, we strongly advise that you do not create SKUs by simply numbering your inventory in sequential order. Sequential ordering makes it easy to accidentally reassign an old SKU to a new product.

Inventory Best Practices

Add new inventory using the pre-built Inventory Loader and Book Loader templates, or a UIEE file.

If you have new inventory to add, create an upload file that contains only the new titles you wish to add. This type of upload also processes quickly. While these files can also be used to make more complex modifications to inventory, their best use is for adding new products to the website.

Use the Price & Quantity template to make quick changes.

If you need to change prices or quantities, or remove listings from sale on the website, use the Price & Quantity feed, which loads very quickly due to its small size. To remove a listing, simply set the quantity to zero. Using the Price & Quantity feed will help you maintain a more accurate real-time inventory, which means a better experience for your buyers. When your inventory is up-to-date, you will have fewer sales of out-of-stock items, which means fewer refunds and higher feedback ratings.

After your file finishes processing, review the error log.

Once your feed is processed, a Processing Report will be available in your Seller Account. If there were template-level or data-level errors and listings were not properly uploaded, it will be important to understand why by reviewing any error messages in the Processing Report and consulting the Seller Help pages. For more information about error messages, see our Help section on Reviewing Your Upload.

Use the strengths of each feed process. Alternate inventory feeds with Price & Quantity feeds to add, modify and delete listings efficiently.

If you limit yourself to a single feed process, it will take you more time to manage your inventory. When you have a large number of products to add, modify and delete, the best practice is to use the fastest feed for each task. 

  • To add new products as quickly as possible, use an Inventory Loader, Book Loader or a UIEE feed.
  • To quickly modify the basic elements of your inventory, use the Price & Quantity feed.
  • Use the Inventory Loader to modify listing elements beyond the price or quantity (such as the item description).
  • If you need to modify listings you created using a Book Loader or UIEE feed, download an Open Listings Report, make your changes, and then send up the new file as an Inventory Loader feed. See Using Reports to Update Inventory.
  • The fastest way to make a large number of products unavailable for sale on Amazon is to use the Price & Quantity feed to set the quantity to zero.

Reconcile your current Amazon inventory against your actual on-hand inventory using inventory reports and order reports. Avoid using Purge and Replace.

Here are two good ways to determine the difference between your current Amazon inventory and your actual on-hand inventory:

  1. Generate an Inventory Report through your Amazon Seller Account. By comparing your open listings report to your current on-hand inventory, you can determine which Marketplace listings need to be modified, deleted, or added.
  2. A more sophisticated way to reconcile your inventory is to maintain a list of your Amazon listings on your own computer system. Keeping your own up-to-date list allows you to skip generating an open listings report.

We recommend that sellers rarely use the Purge and Replace operation. We make this option available for sellers who need to start fresh with a new file to control their inventory levels due to unforeseen issues with their own inventory management systems. Since Purge and Replace will remove any listings that are not sent in the feed, sellers should have high confidence that their replacement file is accurate and complete. Purge and Replace also has a longer processing time than other feeds, which increases the risk of sales for an out-of-stock item.

How to Quickly Remove All Listings

If you need to quickly remove all of your listings, upload a Price & Quantity feed with all quantities set to zero.

Price & Quantity files process quickly. This is the easiest, most convenient way to close all your listings. This is also a useful technique if you ever mistakenly upload listings that are all incorrect; for instance, listings with the wrong quantities or with the decimal point misplaced in all the prices.

If you need to suspend all of your listings, you can use the Listings Status feature.

For more information, see the Modifying Inventory FAQ.

Seller Support

Please use the e-mail address associated with your Amazon.com Seller account.