UT Austin students launch website to help shoppers find supplies during pandemic

Amid COVID-19 getting household items can be stressful.

For many, if you’re looking to pick up curbside groceries availability is scarce, and delivery hasn’t been the easiest either.

This week, Amazon announced they now have a waitlist for customers who have never placed an order for Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery or pickup online grocery services.

Many stores like Target and HEB have limited its number of shoppers in stores, and have placed social distancing stickers as new safety measures. Recently, HEB announced they’ll recommend shoppers wear masks while shopping and limit 1 person per household when visiting the store.

Stores like Dollar General and Target have devoted special hours to assist more vulnerable communities like senior customers and pregnant customers.

19 and 18-year-old Rithwik Pattikonda and Darshan Bhatta say they saw their parents recently struggle with finding basic items at stores. “Everyone was going to 6 or 7 different stores trying to go find what they were looking for,” Pattikonda says.


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So last month, the two UT students launched instok.org

The site searches for products by zip code anywhere in the U.S. at several retailers like Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Sam’s Club, and CVS.

The teens are from the Dallas area, and their team member Sriram Hariharan, also a student (junior) at UT, is from the Houston area. “Now I think we have a little over 700,000 users. We did think it would help a lot of people but no we weren’t expecting this much,” Pattikonda says.


I asked is a physical app in their future plans- “Actually we are currently, once we noticed the website is actually useful for people and noticed what types of things people are looking up which is generally mostly non-perishables with some perishable items, we realized a good idea moving forward which we’re probably going to build out in the next week is a Chrome extension so people can actually keep track of things online instead of having to go to the store at all. So they can keep tabs on things like toilet paper and get notified when something is online and can order it online and get it shipped instead of figuring out where to go to get these items picked up,” he adds.

The InStok team says, “regarding the accuracy of what we have on our website we have disclaimed that all this information comes from the store website and it depends on how quickly they update their inventory systems.”



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