Tips for online shopping during the coronavirus pandemic
As more people are tasked with staying at home and governors across the country work to reduce the number of people visiting stores, more Americans are turning online to try to find the supplies they need. This surge in demand has brought a wave a new challenges. It’s been notably difficult to find items like toilet paper and cleaning supplies in stock online, and nearly impossible to land one of the limited grocery delivery slots through services like Amazon Fresh or Prime Now.
We built our Supply Finder to help navigate some of these challenges, and we’ve also put together some tips based on our knowledge of the space and our personal experiences of shopping for ourselves and our families. Check them out below.
Tip #1: Only use the grocery store for perishables.
Since it's so hard to snag a grocery delivery spot these days, only use the grocery store for the items you can't get elsewhere — things like fresh produce, meats, frozen foods and other perishables. You can find pantry staples, toilet paper, cleaning products and most other packaged goods at online retailers and have them shipped directly to your home.
Tip #2: For household essentials and pantry items, try Amazon, Walmart and Target.
Amazon, Walmart and Target have a vast majority of household essentials and pantry items available to ship to your door. Our Supply Finder shows you availability and prices at these retailers for products in all of the top categories right now including toilet paper, cleaning supplies, pantry staples, baking materials and more. Ordering these items online can help prevent or reduce trips to the store.
Tip #3: Get alerts for the highest demand items.
The hardest to find items sell out the quickest, so getting alerted when these products come back in stock can help. You can live stream back-in-stock items on our Supply Finder site or get alerts through our public Slack workspace: Supply Finder by Popcart. Other online services provide email alerts for in stock items, but unfortunately things like toilet paper often sell out so quickly, by the time you see and open the email, it’ll likely already be gone.
Tip #4: Check availability in the early afternoon.
We've been tracking when items like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes come back in stock, and we've seen that restocking often happens in the early afternoon eastern standard time (EST) on weekdays. Try checking for availability around that time if you can.
Tip #5: Have a cart ready.
When your toilet paper comes back in stock at Walmart or another retailer, you need to be ready to check out pretty quickly since these items sell out within minutes or even seconds. Build a cart in advance that will clear Walmart’s $35 free shipping minimum so that you don’t have to spend time shopping around after you add your toilet paper to your cart. The same goes for when you manage to snag a grocery delivery spot — have a cart ready so you can check out right away.
Tip #6: Plan for extended shipping timelines
Before the coronavirus outbreak, you could order toilet paper and expect it at your doorstep the next day. Now, since retailers are overwhelmed by demand, this is no longer the case — you need to plan ahead! Don’t wait until you’re on your last roll of toilet paper to order more. Try planning a few weeks out for these kinds of supplies.