5 Tips on finding in-stock toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other essentials while shopping online
At Ben’s Bargains, we’ve worked 24/7 for the last two decades to bring you the best deals on the Internet. But for the past two weeks, we’ve also been working to bring attention to items that aren’t necessarily on sale, but simply in-stock and selling out insanely fast due to coronavirus-related demand.
We know many people around the U.S. are having difficulty finding common items like toilet paper, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes, hand soap, paper towels, tissues as well as medical supplies. We want to lend you some of our expertise in how we hunt for in-stock home essentials, ideally to help you snag something you need without having to go to a grocery store, drugstore, warehouse club or any other public venue.
1. Look for the bulk options
We’ve discovered that bulk options are shifting in and out of stock more frequently than single-item options. Referencing some of our expired deal posts, this 10-pack of tissues would be a good example of that type of option. We’ve seen this trend occur at Amazon, Walmart, Target and other large retailers on items like 4-packs of hand sanitzer or 3-packs of disinfecting wipes.
On average, you will pay more for a bulk option, but less per item compared to the single-item option. If you won’t have enough space to store a bulk option, consider sharing with your friends or family. You could also take what you need and donate the rest to a charitable organization.
2. Check your local delivery services
One of our deal editors landed a great deal on toilet paper simply by checking to see if Amazon Fresh did delivery in their area. They scored a great price on 24 rolls of toilet paper and never had to leave the house. Amazon is currently working to expand the Amazon Fresh service area as well as increase capacity (currently available in over 2,000 cities, $35 minimum for free delivery).
Another option is Instacart (assuming workers aren’t on strike as of next week, currently available in 40 states, $4 delivery fee on $10+ orders), Walmart Grocery (available in 1,600 cities, $8 to $10 delivery fee) and FreshDirect (available in NY, NJ, CT, PN, DE and Washington D.C., $6 to $16 delivery fee).
It’s possible you may have to order additional products in order to qualify for free shipping minimums when placing these types of orders. Alternatively, we advise you also check through Prime Pantry (an Amazon service for bulk items) to see if Amazon has allotted any inventory specifically for Prime Pantry customers. It’s rumored that Subscribe & Save customers do receive inventory allotments ahead of other customers, assuming you can subscribe while an item is in stock.
3. Use In-Stock Alerts on Retailer Sites
Amazon doesn’t have these, but Walmart definitely does. When you visit a product page on Walmart, you will see a red “Out of Stock” label under the price if it’s sold out. Underneath that, you will find a big, blue “Get In-Stock Alert” button. Click it, enter your email address and you will get an alert when it comes back in-stock.
Target also has this option, but only on select items. Look for the “Notify me when it’s back” button. Target does exclude this option on high-demand items, so it may not appear on all pages for essential items.
4. Use 3rd Party Tracker Sites
There are a handful of in-stock, tracker sites that are useful to reference when trying to find in-demand electronics like the Nintendo Switch. As of a few weeks ago, many of those sites have shifted to tracking in-demand home essentials, everything from cleaning supplies to bulk food items.
Two helpful options are NowInStock and ZooLert. If you bring up one of the product category pages on those sites, you will notice the site tracker updates every minute. It’s literally scanning 20 to 40 product SKUs and updating inventory data as quickly as possible.
5. Simply Be Online
Just like so many of the best online deals, simply being online at the right time can be massively important when searching for deals and especially in-stock items. Over the past couple weeks, we’ve seen products stay in-stock as short as two minutes before selling out again!
If you have a job that allows you to work from home, dedicate an alternate screen (secondary laptop, second monitor, tablet, etc…) to monitoring email alerts as well as the Ben’s home page or any additional 3rd party tracker site. You can also sign up for deal alerts on Ben’s and we will fire off an automatic email as soon as a new post appears. We also have a specific category for household essentials.
Organization also helps. Open up an Excel sheet or Google doc and make a list of all the items you need. Add links to those items at your favorite retailers and simply click through the URL list a few times a day. You may get lucky. We advise you to focus on the larger retailers at this time (Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc…). We’ve had extremely limited success in finding in-stock items online at smaller retailers.