Allocate and Deallocate Stock

Explains what inventory allocation is, how to allocate and deallocate stock, what an allocation strategy is, and how to create one in ShipStation.

Allocation is the process of reserving inventory units for your orders in the Awaiting Shipment status, so you are always certain you have enough available stock.

This process is a core component of our Internal Inventory Management solution because it clarifies the difference between the stock you have on hand ('Stock'), the stock you need to ship your open orders ('Allocated'), and remaining stock you have available to sell ('Available').

You are not required to allocate stock to ship orders. Stock will be deducted as you ship, whether you have allocated it or not. But, if you ship only your allocated orders, you can be certain you have the stock you need to get those orders out the door!

To allocate one or more orders, make sure you have enabled your inventory tracking, then use the Allocation menu option in the Awaiting Shipment status of the Orders tab.

Allocate One or More Orders

Items that have been allocated display a lock icon in the Shipping Sidebar and in Order Details.


Deallocate Stock

If you've already allocated stock for your orders, but you no longer need to reserve the stock, you can deallocate the stock at either the order or product level.

Deallocation will release the inventory so it can be allocated to other orders, so the product can be deactivated, or so the warehouse location can be deleted.

Deallocate Stock by Order

If you no longer need to reserve stock for one or more orders, you can deallocate orders from the Orders grid.


When you deallocate stock from an order, all the products within the order will be deallocated. There is no way to partially allocate or deallocate an order.

After completing the above steps, the product(s) within the order(s) will be deallocated and can be allocated to other orders as needed.

Deallocate Stock by Product

If you no longer need to have stock reserved for a specific product, you can deallocate the stock for any orders that include the product.


When you deallocate stock at the product level, any order that has the product allocated will have items in the order deallocated, including other products in the order. There is no way to partially allocate or deallocate an order.

After completing the above steps, all orders that include the product will be deallocated, and the product can be allocated to other orders as needed.

Using an Allocation Strategy

Your Allocation Strategy determines how ShipStation reserves (i.e. allocates) inventory for your Awaiting Shipment orders.

By default, ShipStation allocates inventory for your oldest orders first. But, if you've got reasons to prioritize some orders over others, then it's best to set up a custom allocation strategy with "tasks" that match those priorities.

For example, selling channels like Amazon and eBay penalize merchants who don't ship out orders quickly enough.

This screen capture shows how to define a custom allocation strategy with a task to prioritize Shopify orders:

GIF shows how to set up an Allocation Task and Prioritize orders.

Your allocation strategy can also have multiple tasks (for example, if you offer expedited shipping across all of your selling channels). The image below shows a task that prioritizes orders for their Shopify channel with these criteria: a Requested Service for the Marketplace that contains 'Expedited' in the buyer's requested shipping method:

GIF shows how to setup multiple Allocation Strategies.

When you're ready to define (or refine) your allocation strategy, follow the steps below to get to the Allocation Strategy editor.

Define or Refine Your Allocation Strategy

Notes about Allocation

  • When allocating inventory for an SKU stored in multiple locations within the same warehouse, ShipStation prioritizes dispatching your oldest stocked inventory first. This follows the First In, First Out (FIFO) method, ensuring that the items first stocked are the first ones dispatched. On the allocation screen, the location of the stock to be dispatched will be displayed at the top of the list for easy reference.

  • Every successful allocation affects the stock-related values on the Inventory grid (found by clicking the Products tab, and then Inventory in the left sidebar). Values in the Allocated column should have increased, while the Available values should have decreased. The Stock values won’t decrease until you create a shipping label.

  • Once you allocate products, the In-Stock count will reflect the total number of remaining (non-allocated) products available. To see the number of allocated products, go to the Insights tab and run an Inventory Status Report. This report will contain information about the inventory count for allocated products.

  • An order is either fully allocated or it's not. You can't partially allocate an order. The idea is that you should only ship orders that are allocated because it's ShipStation's way of saying, "You've got enough stock to ship this!"

  • If you’ve oversold, ShipStation won’t have enough available stock to allocate all of your orders. In cases like these, ShipStation can allocate your priority orders first by using a customizable Allocation Strategy.

  • ShipStation does not currently auto-allocate as your orders import. If you want to allocate orders prior to creating labels, you must do so using the Allocate button.

  • To allocate Orders tagged, you must have created order tags.

  • Allocation tasks will skip over orders that can only be allocated partially.

  • ShipStation does not require you to allocate stock for you to be able to ship orders. ShipStation will deduct stock counts as you ship, whether the stock is allocated or not.