Lands’ End and L.L. Bean go neck-and-neck for the top two positions, while Dot Com retailers fall out of the race altogether in the Apparel 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. Rounding out the top eight positions were Gap, J.Crew, Eddie Bauer, Victoria’s Secret, J.C. Penney, and Spiegel.

“Catalog and retail companies dominate the top online apparel sites,” said Tom Rhinelander, senior analyst at Forrester. “No Web pure play has managed to knock these old-school companies off their pedestals.”

Great prices and reliable delivery propels Lands’ End to victory. The company offers unique features like virtual models and the ability to shop with a friend. L.L. Bean finishes less than one point behind, with an efficient search engine, a speedy first-time buying process, and first-rate customer service.

Gap comes in third with a feature-rich site, including an address book, two-click express purchasing, and a gift registry. On the other hand, a long checkout process, missing inventory information, and a weak search engine leave customers less than satisfied. J.Crew earns fourth place with express checkout for repeat buyers and an online order history, but it lacks a 24-hour call center and shipping confirmation emails. Eddie Bauer places fifth with an unconditional return policy and efficient call center, but it received low scores for high prices and missing online order history or shipment confirmation.

“Very few apparel sites offer basic features like order history or first-rate search engines,” added Rhinelander. “If a born-on-the-Web company like Amazon teams up with a respectable brand, today’s winning apparel sites had better watch out.”

None of the remaining companies ranked in the Apparel category — Victoria’s Secret, J.C. Penney, and Spiegel — stood out in any scoring area. Victoria’s Secret lacks effective search capabilities, online order history, and reasonable shipping charges. Meanwhile, J.C. Penney provides an extremely long checkout process and lacks standard features like a wish list. Despite an unlimited return policy, the cumbersome buying process, inadequate customer service, and limited selection land Spiegel last place.

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. Additional information about each of the categories, including a complete set of rankings and scores, can be found at the PowerRankings Web site —