BRUSSELS: Many companies in Europe are failing to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by the internet, especially in the area of ecommerce, new figures show.

Email Brokers, the marketing firm, assessed 13m websites in the region, and discovered that Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands had the highest proportion of businesses using this channel.

Even among these nations, however, around 40% of companies were yet to embrace the internet, a trend which is harming Europe's financial recovery.

"It is one of the ways to create employment and economic growth and it is not Star Trek, it exists today," William Vande Wiele, head of Email Brokers, told Reuters.

When discussing ecommerce, Liechtenstein was the market where businesses had made the most progress, as 17% of operators analysed boasted sales tools on their websites.

This total hit 16% in the UK, which took second place here. Equivalent ratings fell to 9% in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, and only 6% in Belgium.

A significant number of websites were also revealed to be badly designed and lacking fundamental information, like details about the company or contact information for consumers.

Fully 91% of sites in Belgium were found to be guilty of these or similar failings, measured against roughly 20% in France and Luxembourg.

Further, more than 80% of platforms in Belgium, Greece, Italy and Spain had not received an update in over a year.

"Sites which do not comply with such minimum standards do not inspire confidence and before buying something online a user will need a minimum level of confidence," said Vande Wiele.

Data sourced from Reuters; additional content by Warc staff