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In stock alerts: how reliable are they?

Now that too many people are panic shopping over the coronavirus pandemic, it’s almost impossible to find certain essentials in stores. We’ve seen plenty of shortages, leaving shelves bare and missing things like hand sanitizer and toilet paper.

That’s why more people are shopping online. Nowadays, it’s common to come across things that are out of stock online and you might see an option to get notified when more of the item is available again.

Alerts like these don’t work with every type of product. If you’re looking for goods that are a little more controlled like prescription drugs, just tap or click here to find out how you can get prescriptions online.

Big retailers like Amazon, Target and Walmart offer in-stock alerts, but are they useful in times like these when it’s impossible for stores to keep shelves full? Keep reading for helpful details on in-stock alerts and to find out about a third-party tool you can use to check stock yourself!

Amazon’s product availability alerts

According to Amazon, a customer can sign up to be notified once an item becomes available if the listing currently doesn’t have a release date or the item is sold out. All you have to do is click the Alert Me box that will pop up next to the product information and you’ll be emailed once it’s back in stock.

But, here’s the catch. Signing up to be notified doesn’t reserve the item for you. When you receive the email letting you know it’s available, you need to go back to Amazon to place your order.

RELATED: Retailers banned from selling non-essential items – here’s how to get what you need

During times like these when essential items are in high-demand, Amazon only gets a limited number of items in stock. Customers quickly buy up the entire supply, so if you’re not super fast you won’t get them — even with the alert. And some high-demand items don’t have the Alert Me feature, so there’s that.

How Target’s in stock notifications work

Target notes customers “may” be offered an option to receive a notification when an item is in stock by way of a ‘notify me when it’s back’ button which will appear next to the product’s details. For any item this service is offered for, turning on notifications is as simple as a single click.

However, Target has the same problem as Amazon: items you’d likely want to be notified about being in stock, like paper towels or gloves, don’t usually offer this feature. Target also notes, for items like toilet paper, that its listed stock might be unreliable, as these sorts of everyday items have become hot commodities.

Target won’t even check stock if you call your local store, so discovering whether or not your Target actually has the thing you’re looking for is inevitably going to be unreliable.

Walmart’s item monitoring

Similar to both Amazon and Target, Walmart offers a Get In-stock Alert button next to the product’s details on certain items. It’s warning customers that this feature will not be available for all items.

Unfortunately, this is proving to be true. Many essential items that you’re probably looking for don’t support the feature. For certain items like toilet paper, Walmart even displays a “Due to high demand, in-store availability may change” message, so you can’t be entirely sure an item listed as in-stock actually is.

The best way to check the stock of a store

Parsing a store or retailer’s inventory data is an only halfway reliable way to check stock. Nobody, unfortunately, can guarantee the warehouses of a certain retailer are updating their inventory all that quickly.

However, a service like, which allows users to search individual listings of retailers can cut out a lot of the aggravation. Tap or click here to find out how NowInStock works.

These kind of inventory verification services don’t have access to better information than the retailers themselves, but they can often make checking the last-updated inventory of a variety of stores quick and easier than if you monitored the item’s listing yourself.

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s best to keep your wits about you not only when you’re shopping online but when you’re just browsing too. Tap or click here to learn about the latest Coronavirus scam targeting the elderly.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives. App background

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