Shopping at Costco can be a dream with all those giant pies, low prices, and free samples. But if you've ever tried to check what's in stock at your local store before you go, you've probably already experienced the nightmare of Costco's website.
"Online experience is woeful," lamented Costco fan u/coloradojt on the r/Costco forum, and it's a common complaint at Costco among the store's shoppers.
"Yeah, it's getting harder and harder for me to excuse the fact that they don't even have an online inventory system," responded u/CactusBoyScout. "I'm tired of not knowing if my local store will even have something."
Does Costco's Website Show Store Inventory?
When you go to Costco's website, you'll notice that you can choose a location near you for "My Warehouse" when you're logged in with an account. But when you go the page of an individual product, there's no indication whether it's available at that location or not because Costco.com doesn't show store inventory.
Unlike retail websites like Target, Kroger, and even Costco's biggest competitor, Sam's Club, Costco chooses not to let customers check whether something is in stock via the website. When you're planning a party and want to check prices and availability before your big grocery and supply run, it's incredibly frustrating that Costco is lagging so far behind in a tech feature that's commonplace for its competitors.
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How Do You Check Costco Inventory?
Luckily, there is a way to check your local Costco's inventory, though it's not foolproof since it doesn't use the company's own inventory system. Instead, you can tap into Instacart's ordering system, which will at least give you a good idea of what your local Costco usually stocks. Just pretend like you're placing an order to browse the products available.
There are two ways to check Costco's inventory:
- Go to sameday.costco.com, the Costco website that's used for same-day Costco deliveries through Instacart. You can enter your address (or a dummy address near the Costco location you'd like to check) to tap into the inventory of a nearby Costco as if you were placing an order. Then just browse or search for the items you're looking for.
- Go to Costco's storefront on Instacart, a delivery service where you can order Costco groceries. Enter an address nearby a local Costco as if you were placing an order. Then search for your items.
If you use this hack to check Costco's inventory, there's a few things you need to kind in mind. The prices that display on Costco's website and Instacart are different than the price you'll see in store. Delivery adds a premium to the price of each item, not just a delivery charge. So if you're looking for exact prices on Costco items, it's better to use Costco.com for that information — though not all items are even listed.
The other hitch to this secret Costco hack is that while it'll give you a better idea of what's in stock at your local Costco, the club may still be out of some things. That's because it uses Instacart's inventory system and not Costco's, so it's not foolproof or without problems. The people who put together Instacart's deliveries often substitute items when something is out of stock, so it doesn't matter if the inventory system is perfect.
Despite those shortcomings, using the Instacart hack to check Costco's local inventory can be a good way to save time and effort in planning and shopping. We can only hope that one day Costco will get on board and finally update its website and app to something much more helpful, like Sam's Club has.