Getting an unavailable balance certainly exacerbates your cash flow woes. Fortunately, with the right planning, you can boost your cash flow despite an unavailable balance AND take advantage of otherwise missed opportunities like last-minute inventory deals.
In this post, we’re going to show you how. You’ll learn what an unavailable balance is, why you might have one, how to manage through it, and how to protect yourself from getting one in the future.
What an Unavailable Balance Is - And Why You Might Have One
An unavailable balance is an indefinite hold on part of your Amazon payouts to cover claims, returns, or chargebacks. Normally, Amazon issues payments every 14 days for sales that were delivered at least seven days ago. So, if one of your payout dates is the 30th of each month, that payout would include proceeds (minus Amazon’s fees) from sales you made between the 10th and 23rd of that month.
But when you have an unavailable balance, the payout on the 30th might not include proceeds from all of your sales for that particular payout. This is because Amazon has identified a potential issue with an order and is withholding funds until the issue is resolved. Such issues could include:
Per Amazon’s payout schedule, each payout includes sales that were successfully delivered seven or more days ago. So if there is an issue with shipping and your order is not delivered on time, Amazon will wait until they get delivery confirmation, then start the seven-day window before issuing payouts.
Claim or Chargeback
If a customer files an A-to-Z Guarantee Claim or orders a chargeback with their credit card, Amazon will withhold payouts on the order in question until the claim or chargeback is resolved.
Seller Performance Issue
If your seller performance ratings suddenly drop, Amazon will suspect that you’re experiencing issues like negative reviews, increased returns, claims or chargebacks — and they’ll withhold payment while they do an account review and work with you towards a resolution.
If you have an Amazon unavailable balance, you can look up the actual reason for it by checking the Account Health tab in Seller Central.
How to Get Through an Unavailable Balance
When you have an unavailable balance, your cash flow is tighter than usual — so to get through it, you need to find ways to boost your cash flow despite the payout hold. Here, we’ve outlined five ways to do that plus the pros and cons of each.
1. Tap Into Your Savings
You’ll have immediate access to funds, you won’t need to pay interest, and your credit won’t be affected because you won’t need to go through any application.
It’s not a revolving source of funds and should really only be used for emergencies.
2. Request a Credit Card Limit Increase
You might need to increase your spending limit anyway.
Your unavailable balance might not be released before your payment due date, so you’ll be on the hook for hefty interest payments. Plus, your credit might be affected if your credit card issuer decides to do a hard pull to verify that you can afford the higher limit.
3. Get a Bank Loan
Banks tend to lend high dollar amounts with favorable terms like low interest rates and long payment terms.
The application process can take weeks, sometimes months, and requires a lot of paperwork on your part. Not to mention, approval rates are very low for small business owners (especially those with an online business).
4. Get an Online Business Loan
The application process is entirely online and generally takes a few minutes and requires little to no paperwork. You could get a decision and, if approved, receive funding in as fast as 24 hours.
Interest rates can be high (sometimes triple-digit APRs), payment terms are short, and actual payments often include daily auto-debits.
With Instant Access you’ll get next day, every day payouts on your Amazon sales. In other words, you’ll get paid tomorrow for the sales you make today, and so on. The online application process is simple and you could start getting your payouts as soon as tomorrow. Since approval is based on account health and sales performance, the application process is simple and there are no credit checks. Plus, you can get approved in as little as 24 hours. Instant Access is not only a temporary solution to an unavailable balance, it’s also a permanent solution as you won’t have to worry about unavailable balances moving forward as you’ll always get paid for your Amazon sales upfront.
Rollover balances are subject to additional fees.
How to Prevent an Unavailable Balance
While you can get an unavailable balance at any time and the reason for it may not always be obvious, you’re more likely to get an unavailable balance if things aren’t going “right” for your business. So to prevent them, you need to identify what isn’t going right and fix it. To do this, you’ll want to conduct a review of your account and monitor things like seller performance ratings, seller feedback and product reviews, return rates, fulfillment or shipping issues, claims, chargebacks, and more. Chances are, you can make a few small tweaks now that will have a lasting impact on your business — not only for your sales, but for your payouts, too. Let’s take a look:
Update Product Listings
If any information is missing or inaccurate in your product listings, you increase the chances of returns or negative product reviews for reasons like “item not as described.” So make a point to identify any wording that isn’t clear or that might be inaccurate, and supplement it with high-quality photos and video. While you’re updating your listings, consider using a listing optimization tool to help you rank high in search results and maximize sales.
Assess Your Product Suite
If you sell clothing or shoes, you’re bound to get returns since your customers can’t confirm sizing or fit before they purchase. In addition to providing very clear sizing/fit information in your product listing, you might want to consider adding products to your storefront that are less return-prone.
There are two surefire ways to prevent an Amazon stockout and all the negative repercussions it can have on your business. First, you need a reliable inventory management strategy so you know exactly how much inventory to have on hand at a given time. Second, you need reliable cash flow so that, if demand suddenly spikes, you can place a resupply order to keep momentum going and not run out of stock.
If you’re still unsure about how to prevent unavailable balances and prime your business for long-term success, Awesome Dynamic’s expert Amazon consultants can work with you one-on-one.
At the end of the day, unavailable balances are common, but they can be avoided with the right strategy and cash flow solutions — whether you’re working with Awesome Dynamic to shore up your storefront, making improvements yourself, or getting a cash flow boost from eCommerce financing companies like Payability. The most important step you can take next is to think about your business’s unique needs then choose a strategy and a solution that is the right fit for you.