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New web site helps shoppers locate hard to find products during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 6:00 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-20 12:07:23-04

We've all heard the saying that desperate times lead to desperate measures.

We've shown you shoppers waiting in long lines just to find out the products they want aren't in stock.

If you're just going store to store looking for those hard to find items like toilet paper, sanitation wipes and over the counter medication, you may be wasting your time.

A new web site called "Instok" promises to help everyday shoppers like you find stores that have products available for purchase today.

How accurate is the web site? Chief Investigative Reporter Eric Ross decided to put it to the test.

The site was created by college students to help everyone spot those rare products.

It's easy to use----simply enter a product you're looking for along with your zip code, and the site will tell you which retail stores in your neighborhood has the items in-stock.

According to the site, it collects inventory data from major retailers like Wal Mart, Target, CVS and Walgreens and then pushes that information through one centralized location.

Think of it like "Expedia" or "Travelocity".

The test:

Ross created a list of items to buy. That list included things like toilet paper, paper towels, Tylenol, sanitation wipes, bread, eggs, and Airborne immune system supplements.

"Instok" said we could find all the items at the Briargate Target location with the exception of the immune system supplements.

Within 10 minutes, Ross was in and out of the store with the items in hand.

Web site isn't 100-percent accurate:

Remember the Airborne immune system supplements the site told Ross he couldn't find at the Target store location?

When Ross went to the store around 11 a.m. Thursday morning, the store had them in-stock, contrary to what "Instok" had told us.

How did this happen?

In a disclaimer in its site, Instok says that retail stores handle inventory counts in different ways. Some will upload their inventory numbers daily, twice a day, or in real time (instantly).

For the most part, the site is accurate an can save consumers time in the long run.

Tips for navigating the site:

Don't be too picky. You may be disappointed searching for "Charmin Toilet Paper", only to find that no stores in the southern Colorado region have it in-stock. Instead, use more generic terms like "toilet paper" or "paper towels".

If you see that an item is listed as "possibly in-stock" or "low supply", call the store ahead of time. It's not worth making a trip to be disappointed.

If an item shows "in-stock" and you can't find it on store shelves, it may be because the inventory hasn't been unloaded from the back. Ask a retail sales associate whether the products have been placed on the sales floor or if they were moved to a different part of the store.

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