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Tuesday, 18 December, 2001, 17:07 GMT
Government pushes home internet use
Man surfing the internet
Eight million of us surf the net for news and views
By BBC business reporter Marcia Hughes

The government is desperate to get more Britons logging on to the internet from home.

But the task in getting people interested is not that easy.

Around eight million of us surf the net for news and views, as well as shopping in our lunch breaks at work.

But getting us to want to be inspired to use the net at home is another thing altogether.

Lacking incentive

We all have our favourites - Amazon.co.uk, the low cost airlines or even the BBC website.

But which businesses are doing it well and how can anyone who isn't getting the hits start to draw in the customers?

There are houses in the UK where the internet is still not being used because people are waiting on quicker cheaper access.

But in a lot of cases, it is simply a question of not having the incentive to log on at home.

That is something that more and more companies have quickly had to take on board since they have witnessed the decline in visitors to their sites.

Christmas spree

One consultancy in London advises top brands on what it takes to attract customers and keep them loyal.

"If you have a financial services website you need to have about four or five relevant offers for the end user.

"For retail you not only have to have an excellent easy to use website but one where the after sales service is impeccable," explained Adam Cavill, creative director at Wolff Olins.

High street stores have seen their websites take off, with the likes of WHSmith and Woolworths seeing many more of their customers logging on to buy their Christmas presents - preferring to miss the Christmas rush.

Simplicity wins

But aside from e-commerce, some dot.coms who have made it through the boom and bust period are attracting visitors with a simple idea.

They have learnt from those who spent millions on their business only to fall by the wayside.

"We seem to have tapped into the theme of nostalgia that is in the country at the moment and maybe we've been lucky in that respect as through no advertising we've managed to get three and a half million users to the site," said Steve Pankhurst, co-founder of Friendsreunited.co.uk, which offers surfers the chance to get back into contact with old school pals.

And the low cost airlines are also seeing booming business.

They have inspired many of us to jet off to the sunshine - at the click of a mouse.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Marcia Hughes reports
"High street stores have seen their websites take off"
See also:

18 Dec 01 | Business
UK broadband 'to triple in 2002'
18 Dec 01 | UK
Women catch up on net use
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