High scores in the areas of usability and delivery narrowly landed proflowers.com in the No. 1 slot in the Flowers category of the latest PowerRankings announced today by Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR). Forrester PowerRankings combine survey data from online consumers and unbiased shopping tests to provide objective rankings of the leading eCommerce sites. The companies closely following proflowers.com are 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, PC Flowers & Gifts, and FTD.COM.

Beyond superior ease-of-use, proflowers.com customers were most impressed with the highly efficient shipping process, which lets consumers track orders right up to delivery. On the downside, shoppers were required to provide credit card information before agreeing to a grand total, in addition to having to pay higher-than-usual shipping charges. Rated first for transacting and second in all other categories, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM came in right behind proflowers.com. Consumer needs were met with strong basic features, including an address book, a quick checkout process, and average delivery costs.

PC Flowers & Gifts offered the lowest shipping charges and impressive search functions, but came in third due to poor customer service. Low marks for usability and a poorly functioning email system dropped FTD.COM to last place, although consumers enjoyed a wide product selection, exceptional response times, and same-day delivery.

“Competition in the online Flowers category is intense,” said Tom Rhinelander, senior analyst at Forrester Research. “The contenders are so close to one another that, with just a few minor improvements, any site could be No. 1 next time around.”

For the updated PowerRankings, Forrester surveyed 19,000 consumers from Greenfield Online’s 400,000-person online panel to identify the most popular eCommerce sites. A team of Forrester shoppers then evaluated the shopping experience for these sites by performing a series of rigorous tests in six areas. The consumer data and Forrester shopper scores were then synthesized and weighted, with consumer views accounting for two-thirds of the overall PowerRanking. A complete set of PowerRankings results are made available to all ranked companies.

In the coming weeks, Forrester will be announcing results in additional PowerRankings categories, including Apparel, Brokerage, Computing, Health, and Toys & Games. Additional information about each of the categories, including a complete set of rankings and scores, can be found at the PowerRankings Web site — powerrankings.forrester.com.