Consumers need to be careful when shopping on the internet, said Gordon Segal, founder of home goods retailer Crate & Barrel.
The retail veteran, who opened his first Crate & Barrel store in 1962, said consumer-facing companies have to be more competitive than ever today, with a player like Amazon.com hanging over the industry. Segal argued that many shoppers are sacrificing quality when they choose to ring up more and more purchases online.
Cheaper products and poorer quality "won't be good for consumers in the long run," he said. Delivering a quality product at a great price is "what retail has [always] been about."
Segal mentioned Crate & Barrel and other retail names, such as Williams Sonoma, Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn, that have continued to sell "quality products" in the midst of an evolving online retail landscape, where everyone wants to offer the lowest price to attract more eyeballs and more clicks.
These traditionally brick-and-mortar companies aren't shying away from selling online, either, Segal added. "[We] do almost 45 percent of business on the internet because we have a great product."
Amazon is hinting it understands shoppers still want to "touch and feel" products even though they're ordering items online.
In its fashion department, for example, the internet giant plans to roll out Prime Wardrobe, where shoppers can order a selection of apparel items, try the clothes on once they arrive and return what they don't want.
But Segal isn't convinced this same strategy will work with larger items, like home furnishings.
Amazon's ambitions in grocery also often face the "touch and feel" complaint. Many shoppers have complained that produce ordered online arrives rotten and soft. But now Amazon plans to acquire supermarket chain Whole Foods, which would add a vast amount of retail real estate — for Amazon customers to shop — to its portfolio.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.