Yellow J.Crew tank top: $14.

Percentage of consumers who might buy that tank top on 5.2 percent.

J.Crew is among hundreds of traditional retailers that have gone online in the past few years. But how successful have they been in getting people to actually buy things at their sites?

Survey company NetRatings Inc. of Milpitas, Calif., released numbers this week showing that these traditional retailers aren't doing too badly and are carving out a competitive niche in the online retailing industry.

The research shows that companies such as and CDNow, which market solely to an online audience, don't necessarily have a much higher rate of actual sales, said Allen Weiner, an analyst at NetRatings.

Since March, NetRatings has tracked the behavior of 15,000 visitors to retail sites and calculated the percentage who actually make a purchase. This is known in the trade as the "looker/booker" ratio., for example, has maintained a consistently high ratio of 8.6 percent, making it a leader in the online bookselling business. But, a traditional company trying its hand on the Web, had a rate of 7.5 percent.

Looking vs. Booking

Site Sales rate*

Web-only retailers 8.6

CDNow 6.8 6.6

Web and traditional retailers 9.1 7.5 6.4

Victoria's Secret 5.9

J.Crew 5.2

*Percent of visitors who become buyers