More Than One-Fourth Of Brits Buy Online

A new study of UK e-commerce has found that 27 percent of those surveyed have purchased goods online and 49 percent have used the Web to compare the prices of goods and services.

The study, released today by e-commerce consortium CommerceNet and Nielsen Media Research is the first in a series of in-depth studies into the Internet habits of British adults.

The study sampled 4,700 respondents and examined who is using the Internet, how long they are staying on it, and how much they are spending.

Brits Coming Online

The research, sponsored by US Web/CKS, Microsoft, Magex and Intel division iCat, found that of the 46 million adult UK residents, 12.5 million have used the Internet in the past month. Of these users, 44 percent log on every day, 38 percent are women and 11 percent are over 50 years old.

How Are They Using Internet?

The study found the following breakdown in UK Internet use:

72 percent use the Web for work-related activity.

69 percent go online to research travel destinations.

60 percent surf to check sports and entertainment news.

52 percent get their international news via the Internet.

40 percent use the Web to access information about the local community.

27 percent use the Web to buy products and services online.

Britain has been much maligned of late for lagging behind the U.S. and other European countries in building an online economy. However, the results of the survey seem to show that steps are being taken in the right direction.

“The fact that 27 percent of the UK population is now online will send an encouraging message to all those involved in building e-commerce businesses,” said Neil Ellul, managing director of CommerceNet (UK). “However, we also found that 1.6 million people have still not even heard of the Internet. Obviously, still more work needs to be done in terms of education and awareness if companies are to truly exploit the Internet as a medium for doing business.”

According to Jerome Samson, director of technology and business strategy at Nielsen Media Research, the Internet users’ demographic profile in the UK today is very similar to that of North America two years ago.

“UK Internet users, however, are embracing e-commerce much more rapidly than users in North America did in 1997. Online consumers in the UK today are reaping the benefits of a more mature industry and seem to face a faster learning curve. This level of e-commerce adoption is extremely encouraging for its development worldwide,” he added.

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