BERLIN: Businesses in the Scandinavian countries of Finland, Denmark and Sweden are more likely to be online than their European counterparts and so better placed to attract new customers, new research has claimed. 

A study by BITKOM, the German new media trade body, found that 91% of Finnish companies, and 89% of both Danish and Swedish firms, had a website.

In Norway, by contrast, the figure was 79%, placing that country at the bottom of the top ten.

The Netherlands and Iceland were ranked equal fourth, on 84%, while Germany and Austria both recorded a figure of 82%.

The UK followed on 81%, then the Czech Republic on 80%.

BITKOM President Dieter Kempf noted that those companies failing to present an online "business card" were "giving away" the chance to develop a relationship with existing customers and, more especially, to attract new customers.

Within Germany, most large businesses were already online, with just 4% of those employing more than 250 people not being there, and 18% of small and medium sized enterprises.

The biggest gap, the study found, was for very small companies, those employing fewer than ten people, where just 45% had an online presence.

Kempf observed that small businesses could get online "with little effort and at low cost" in order to gain wider attention.

A separate BITKOM survey published recently found that those companies that integrated the internet into their business models were more successful than the rest of the economy.

Some 60% internet-savvy companies expected significant sales growth in the 2013 financial year compared to just 46% of industrial companies for which the internet played a minor role and 38% of service providers in a similar position.

Data sourced from BITKOM; additional content by Warc staff