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Here’s how you can use AI to snag hard-to-find items online

Online shopping has been an absolute godsend but also the worst thing in the world ever since the pandemic well, became a pandemic. Everything from toilet paper and Nintendo Switch consoles, to everything made by Elgato has come in and out of stock faster than the in-stock alerts get sent to your inbox, so what’s a savvy shopper to do? How do you beat the super-speedy snipers that seemingly know when things are in stock seconds after they are?

Well, you beat them at their own game. Flicking through bookmarked pages in your browser, hoping that one of them will show the magic “In Stock” sticker is a fool’s errand, at best. What you want is the computer to do the work for you, so you get a notification the split second the website gets updated.

You can do this a few ways, but we’re going to tweak a site called Uptime Robot to do our bidding. The site’s primary function is similar to IsItDown?, monitoring sites to alert you if they go down. With a few tweaks it can be subverted into a stock checker as well, so you’ll know the millisecond that Nintendo Switch you’ve been hankering after is available.

Here’s how to use Uptime Robot

Image: KnowTechie

The first thing you need to do is go to Uptime Robot and register. Make sure you click on the link on the verification email as well, then come back.

  1. After logging in, you’ll see your dashboard. You want to click on Add new Monitor
  2. Select Keyword from the Monitor Type drop-down menu
    uptime robot new monitor

    Image: KnowTechie

  3. Name your Monitor according to what you’re looking for in the Friendly Name box, such as Amazon Nintendo Switch
  4. Add the webpage site for the product you want into the URL box, like this link for a Nintendo Switch
  5. Put Out of Stock as the Keyword, and then select Keyword Not Exists in the Alert When section
  6. Now, Uptime Robot will scan that page every five minutes to check if Out of Stock is displayed, and if it doesn’t find it, will send you an alert saying your Monitor is “down”
  7. Oh, if it goes out of stock before you get to the page, Uptime Robot will tell you that your Monitor is “up”
  8. By default, only notifications to your account email are enabled. You can add more by going to My Settings and adding new Alert Contacts, which could be anything from SMS to Twitter messages
  9. Make sure you hit Create Monitor once done, so the service saves your settings

We suggest downloading the iOS or Android app, depending on your device, so you can get push notifications when your Monitor gets triggered, which should be faster than checking emails.

One last thing, if you’re getting notifications that don’t seem accurate, you might need to tweak the keywords a little. See, the keyword is case-sensitive, so make sure it is spelled exactly how it shows up on the page for the product you are searching for.

What do you think? Plan on using this to snag something that consistently goes out of stock? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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