NEW YORK -- Slow shipping times and sold out items have plagued Amazon since the coronavirus pandemic caused a rush of orders from home-bound people. But the world's largest online retailer isn't the only place to shop online.
With their doors closed, many physical retailers are expanding curbside pickup, which lets people buy items online and pick them up at the parking lot. Some brands are shipping directly to shoppers. And restaurant chains are selling milk and bread for those who can't get a grocery delivery slot.
Here’s some tips on where else you can find other items online, like hand sanitizer and face masks:
GROCERIES: There’s other ways to get some food in the fridge if online grocery deliveries are backed up. Online meal kit companies like Blue Apron and HelloFresh ship raw vegetables, meat and seafood weekly. And fried chicken chain Chick-fil-A is offering meal kits with all the ingredients needed to whip up a chicken parmesan dish at home.
Brands are selling directly to customers, so if there’s something specific you can’t find, try the company's website. PepsiCo recently launched two sites, Snacks.com and PantryShop.com, which sells Doritos, Quaker oatmeal and the company's other snacks and beverages. Elmhurst, maker of plant-based milk alternatives, is shipping shelf-stable almond, cashew and oat milk. And Natalie’s Orchid Island Juice is shipping bottles of pressed orange and grapefruit juices.
For packaged food, try sites like online natural grocer Thrive Market or online wholesale retailer Boxed, which sells snacks, sodas and toilet paper in bulk. Both companies have hired more workers to keep up with a spike in orders.
And check the sites of restaurant chains, which are selling groceries to make up for lost sales after having to close their dining rooms. Panera Bread, for example, sells milk, blueberries, avocados and other groceries for delivery or pick up.
FACE MASKS: Days after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended that Americans wear cloth face masks when they go out, online marketplace Etsy reached out its sellers to get them to make more of the face coverings. Etsy now has 60,000 sellers making cloth masks. And the company said it sold 12 million of them in April.
Some big brands, like Disney and Gap, are making masks and selling them online, though they do sell out quickly. Akings, a fashion brand, is selling cloth and disposable face masks on its site.
Keep in mind: The CDC says cloth face masks should fit snugly on the face and be dropped in a washing machine regularly to be cleaned.
HAND SANITIZER: Many booze companies are making and selling hand sanitizer. The Distilled Spirits Council, which represents spirit makers, keeps a list of companies selling the germ-killing gel on its website. Just make sure any hand sanitizer you buy has at least 60% alcohol, the CDC says. And remember: Hand sanitizer is OK to use when out and away from a sink, but the best way to kill germs is to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, according to the CDC.
BOOKS: Barnes & Noble is offering a way to buy online and pick up books at some locations, so you can get a bestseller without having to wait for it to show up at your door step.
Try your local book store, many of which are offering curbside pickup while they are closed. Check the book store's Facebook page or other social media channels, which may be more up to date than their website. Bookshop.org is another way to buy books online and support a local bookstore.
TOYS: Like for books, look into whether your local toy shop is offering curbside pickup or online ordering. And check the sites of Target and Walmart, which may have quicker shipping times than Amazon.