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Michelle Hovestadt does a big chunk of her shopping without ever leaving the house. Toiletries, snacks, paper products, cleaning supplies and other everyday necessities are bought online and delivered to her rural Connecticut home.
How much does she pay for the convenience? About $6.50 a month for Amazon Prime -- less than the $8 worth of gas it costs her for a single trip to the nearest shopping area.
E-commerce is no longer just about getting a hot deal on cute shoes or the latest electronics. Consumers are logging in to buy vitamins, beauty items, toiletries, coffee, snacks, pet food, paper products, medications and groceries.
Convenience is only part of the equation. The prices are competitive with -- or better than -- those at brick-and-mortar stores, and retailers routinely offer free delivery and online discount codes (i.e., coupons you don't have to clip).
As with any retail offer, it's important to check the fine print. For example, a "free shipping" offer might not apply to orders of more than 20 pounds or to purchases shipped to Alaska or Hawaii.