November 27, 2002, 12:00 AM

U.K. online browsers are the most likely to convert to buyers

Of Internet users in the U.K. who browsed online for products or services, 70% went on to make a purchase.

The U.K. has the highest rate of online browsers to buyers, according to Nielsen/NetRatings’ Third Quarter 2002 Global Internet Trends Report. Of Internet users in the U.K. who browsed online for products or services, 70% went on to make a purchase. A year ago, the conversion rate in the U.K. was 61%.

Sweden had the next highest conversion rate, 61%, followed by Australia, 56%, Germany, 52% and the Netherlands, 51%.

"eCommerce continues to gain momentum in many countries, as the adult population has increasingly browsed for and purchased products online in the past six months," said Richard Goosey, international chief of measurement science, NetRatings.

Outside of the U.S., Nielsen/NetRatings reports that the leading countries by conversion rates are:
UK, 70%, up from 61% a year ago,
Sweden, 61%, 59%
Australia, 56%, 50%
Germany, 52%, 67%
Netherlands, 51%, 39%
France, 47%, 53%
Hong Kong, 42%, 31%
Brazil, 39%, 45%
Italy, 35%, 31%
Spain, 35%, 29%

"Internet shoppers in the UK and Australia have an inherent advantage in that their English-speaking populations can easily access and use the large U.S. e-commerce providers," Goosey said. "As a result, not only are the current conversion rates high for those markets, but they`ve also shown healthy growth over the same quarter last year."

Goosey also noted that Hong Kong, where 75% of the Internet population uses high-speed Internet access, ranked one of the lowest conversion rates for online purchases this quarter, despite the ease and speed that cable or fast telephone connections bring to the shopping experience. "The dense, urban environment in Hong Kong lends itself to easy physical shopping, suggesting that Internet users there use the Web to learn about products, but then purchase in person."

Nielsen/NetRatings reports the following proportions of Internet users who have browsed online and purchased online in the past six months:
Sweden, 42%, 26%
Netherlands, 34%, 17%
UK, 32%, 23%
Australia, 32%, 18%
Germany, 24%, 13%
France, 24%, 11%
Hong Kong, 16%, 7%
Italy, 15%, 5%
Brazil, 14%, 5%
Spain, 11%, 4%

The Global Internet Trends survey also found that the number of people worldwide with access to the Internet via a home PC increased from 553 million in Q2 2002 to 563 million in Q3 2002. The US continues to have the largest Internet population, accounting for 30% of the global audience. Europe accounts for 23%

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