Asian businesswoman sit front of shelf use barcode scan customer data in paper box on desk register online code order detail in laptop for express delivery at warehouse.

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Maybe you've had this happen to you: You see something on Target's website that shows it's available in store. But when you get there and ask if it’s in the back, the employee says it’s not. What’s really going on here? This was the subject of a recent r/Target thread on Reddit, where Target employees shared what's going on — and the different ways they handle this scenario.

It all depends on the backstock location, according to one employee. “I always start by telling them ‘those counts are always off, we probably don’t have it but I’ll check,’ then if there is a backstock location and we actually have it, they’re even happier. Disappoint them first. But without a backstock location, it’s almost impossible to find.”

The backstock, or excess inventory, is typically stored in a retailer's warehouse, and is used to restock store shelves when needed. Without a location listed for the item, it’s basically like looking for a needle in a haystack. 

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“I so badly wish I could take people to the back and let them have a go at it. They'd have as good a chance as I do finding an item with no backstock location,” explains one Redditor.

This employee handles it by explaining the why and how to the customer. “I usually tell them the website is not in real time and it could have been sold in the last couple of days and send them to the next closest stores. I check if the zebra (Target inventory checker) says they have it but tell them the same info about not 100 (percent) accurate as it’s not real time.”

“If a customer says to me that the website says that we have it, even if I know we do somewhere in the back, I am way too lazy to take the time to go and look for it for them,” admits another Redditor. “I just end up telling them that the website is wrong and that if it's not on the floor, we don't have it.”

The commenter then adds, “Edit: Forgot to add that I do check on the app but if there is no backstock, I don't go back and look.”

Another user handles it differently: “I’ll go a step further. I’ll look it up for a backstock location and if it’s not backstocked we don’t have it,” they say.

So the next time you’re confused as to why you can't get the item you want when it says it's right there, keep in mind that what you see may not be what the store actually has — or what is easy enough to find. 

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