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Here’s How to Track Down Supplies When They’re Scarce

 track down scarce supplies

Get an edge on tracking down scarce or out-of-stock supplies with a few simple online tools. A local, national, or international crisis can strike at any time. When it does, you know how fast food, water, toilet paper, and other items disappear off the store shelves. It becomes hard or impossible to find the products you need. Here are three ways to help you find groceries, health, and emergency supplies in tough times.

Use Web Inventory Trackers

Web applications are available that track the inventory of online retailers. Use them to get alerts when out-of-stock products become available at Amazon or other stores. This is a free service. All you have to do is:

  • Register for an account.
  • Choose the products to track.
  • Select the type of alert you want.

When a product is back in stock, you'll get an alert by text, email, or browser. Here are two inventory tracking web services:

  1. NowInStock.net
  2. ZooLert.com

Tips for using these services:

  • If the service is not tracking an item you need, contact them to see if they can add it.
  • These trackers are for online retailers. They don't track local inventory at brick and mortar stores.
  • Browser alerts are the fastest notifications. For browser alerts make sure to:
    • Keep the tracker running on your computer, tablet, or mobile device.
    • Turn off the sleep mode on your computer or mobile device.
    • Turn the sound on so you will hear the alerts.

Create Alerts for Your Alerts

Many retailers offer to send email notifications when an out-of-stock item becomes available. The sooner you have the information, the better. Use this service. Minutes or seconds count when it comes to getting an in-demand item or missing out. Here’s what to do next. Set up an alert that notifies you as soon as the retailer’s notification comes to your inbox.

If you have an iPhone, use the Mail app’s VIP feature. Here's how:

  1. Add the retailer's email address to Contacts.
  2. Open the Mail app.
  3. Tap on Mailboxes at the top.
  4. Find VIP.
  5. Tap the "i" icon.
  6. Tap Add VIP.
  7. Select the contact.

Tip: Don't use a retailer's general email address for your alert. Make sure to find the email address they use for their back-in-stock notifications.

Find and Share Local Product Information Online

People find new, creative ways to help one another during a crisis. The company that runs the app called OurStreets did that. They had a crowdsourcing app to make safer streets for drivers and pedestrians. In response to the 2020 Coronavirus crisis, they updated their service. Now the app lets people see and share where necessary supplies are available in their area.

It takes a few taps to find information about local stores using this app. It's simple to share what you know too. The app uses your location to show retailers nearby. Select a business to see what others are saying about their supplies. To return the favor, select a store you shopped at to share what was or wasn't available when you were there. You can include pictures. Send your report to family, friends, and the OurStreets community.