With supply chain issues leading to shortages on everything from microchips necessary to produce smartphones, video game consoles and televisions to clothing, sporting goods and even pet products, holiday shopping may pose extra challenges this year.
Of course, it’s not too late to start shopping if you haven’t already (which 52% of Americans have!). But it might take some extra time, diligence and patience to find everything on your friends’ and family members’ wish lists. And it pays to have a few backup ideas in case you can’t make holiday magic happen exactly the way you pictured.
Fortunately, as with so many other things this decade, technology is making it easier to overcome challenges inherent during a pandemic. A bevy of apps have hit mobile devices that make it easy to see if an item is in stock before you venture out or spend hours surfing your favorite shopping sites. Many also allow you to sign up to receive an alert when your coveted product is (finally) in stock.
Let’s take a look at the options out there and compare their costs, ease-of-use and capabilities.
HotStock.io is bound to be a hot ticket this holiday season, tracking the availability of thousands of products from retailers and manufacturer websites such as Best Buy, GameStop, Newegg, Target, Walmart, Microcenter, Nintendo, Asus and Amazon.
The site focuses primarily on electronics and toys — which are typically some of the hardest items to find during any holiday season. When you find the product you like on the website or the iPhone or Android app, click the “Alert me” button. You’ll get a notification as soon as it’s in stock at one of the stores HotStock.io tracks.
You can receive notifications to your mobile device, email or web browser, according to the HotStock.io site.
StockInformer.com has been flying under the radar since its launch in 2012, but this year, the inventory tracking software could prove to be more valuable than ever. The free service offers unlimited notifications for products you want. It can send notifications to email, your web browser, Discord, Telegram or your Android-based mobile device without the need to download an app.
Like HotStock.io, StockInformer.com focuses on electronics and tracks the inventory of roughly 30 stores and websites, including Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy.
If you’re looking for housewares, soft goods or sporting goods, this service may also help since it tracks the inventory of Bed, Bath & Beyond, Ulta, BJ’s and Sam’s Club.
When it comes to tracking inventory of anything from video game consoles to household appliances and even household staples, BrickSeek.com has been a leader in the game. The app also helps you find the best deals and lowest prices on items you need and want.
The app only checks inventory for about 10 stores: Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Office Depot, The Home Depot, Macy’s, CVS, Staples, BJ’s and Dollar General. But it features a broad range of product categories to choose from. You can receive alerts any time a product is in stock or choose to be notified only if it drops below a certain price point, which is helpful for bargain hunters.
The site offers three levels of service:
Basic: Receive 3 online deal alerts and one local inventory alert. You can also lookup local and online inventory and product pricing.
Premium: For $9.99 per month, gain early access to deals and set up 5 local inventory and 10 online deal alerts per month. Your radius to search local inventory is expanded to reach more stores.
Extreme Deal Hunter: For $29.99 monthly, you’ll be the first to see all the deals and can set up 20 local inventory alerts and unlimited online deal alerts each month.
If you have your heart set on finding everything on your list – at the lowest prices available – investing in the highest package could be worth it for a month or two. The two higher levels also provide access to an online community of like-minded bargain hunters who also share information and deals, so you’re getting more than just alerts from the service. If you view holiday shopping as more of a quest or game, BrickSeek could be considered your ultimate player’s guide.
If you don’t mind a browser-based inventory tracker, NowInStock.com could be the website for you. NowInStock.com tracks products across 10 product categories. These include the expected electronics, video gaming, toys & games, and computers, but also adds apparel & accessories, home & appliances, camcorders, cameras & lenses, collectibles and sporting goods. This makes it more flexible than many of the other trackers available.
Register for a free account and receive unlimited alerts when a product goes in stock or is available to pre-order. It’s as easy as that. You’ll receive an email or an email-to-text notification, according to the website. Like many of the other sites and apps, NowInStock.net tracks stores such as Amazon, The Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart, Sam’s Club and B&H Photo.
Similar to NowInStock.net, zooLert is a product inventory tracker that sends email and text alerts when the products you want are in stock. Although it runs on a Web browser, you can easily access it from your mobile device browser.
If you want even faster notifications, you can leave the site running on your computer or mobile device to receive an immediate alert when the item you want is back in stock. You’ll receive an audible alert in the form of an animal sound.
zooLert does not seem as robust as some of the others on this list, but it tracks online inventory in a variety of categories, including cameras, camcorders, computers, electronics, video gaming, toys & games and miscellaneous items such as household goods. You can also track local inventory of Best Buy retailers.
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