Superior features and ease-of-use enabled to capture first place in the Music 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 leading eCommerce sites. Following in the Music category were,, CDnow, and Tower Records.

High marks across most of the scoring areas earned the No. 1 slot. Customers are attracted to features like music samples, customer reviews, and personalized recommendations, as well as responsive customer service and one-click checkout.

“ is the top Internet music provider because it provides an unsurpassed online shopping experience,” said Tom Rhinelander, senior analyst at Forrester. “Ironically, the music-centric retailers — CDnow and Tower Records — can’t even beat and, let alone Amazon.”

With strong customer service and a high transacting score, captured second place. Shoppers appreciated the wealth of customer reviews, quick email responses, and postage-paid return labels. Coming in a close third, scored the highest marks for price and also earned solid ease-of-use and customer service grades. In fourth place, CDnow offered unique features like buyer’s guides and an “Album Advisor” but also poor service, delivery performance, and chronic site failures. Tower Records offered a deep music selection and simple return process, but high prices and a lack of usability and features were a turnoff to consumers.

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, Flowers, 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 —