My wife and I were in New York City this past weekend, and we stumbled upon the 3rd Avenue street fair, a collection of vendors selling a wide range of goods and purveyors of a wide range of 2nd+Avenue+Street+Fairfoods.

So we stopped at one booth selling very thin women's wallets, the kind that you can take out of one handbag and put in another in a few seconds. Apparently very popular and a great idea. My wife knew our daughter wanted one of these, but she wasn't with us.

Luckily, the vendor's website URL was on the signage at booth, so we sent her a text, asking her to go to the website and pick out what she wanted, and we'd then buy it for her. By doing so she'd get it faster and not have to pay for shipping. And we could haggle with the vendor, a time-honored tradition.

As it turns out, she didn't see anything she liked, so we didn't buy the wallet. But that's not the point. What's important is the process.

We used a combination of high technology to inform our daughter about a product that we could have purchased from a decidedly low-tech merchant at a street fair.

While sales at street fairs and flea markets are infinitesimally small compared to mainstream retail and direct, the ability of consumers to move across channels so easily to decide about a given purchase is what marketers need to understand.

Whether it's buy-online-pickup-at-a-store or compare-products-in-a-mall-and-buy-online or email-a-friend-for-an-opinion-and-then-buy, marketers need to think about how to make all these combinations work together efficiently and not confuse potential customers.

Going back to the street fair, when the vendor saw us walk away without making a purchase, he could have handed us a coupon for free shipping or some other offer. Perhaps that would have resulted in a sale, but you get the point. That would have been an elementary form of retargeting, which we discuss at: http://A89.acquirgy.net

When you bring in Facebook, Twitter and all the other social venues where consumers can get feedback and opinions, getting your arms around the ways consumers shop is more important than ever.

This also underscores the need for all in-house and external teams to be on the same page, so that consumers get consistent messages and are not confused by different offers in different channels.

It also underscores the need to track inquiries and orders across channels, something we learned how to do over 9 years ago. This is particularly important when tracking offline (i.e. TV, print, catalogs) to online. If you can't accurately track and allocate web activity from offline media placements, you're already at a disadvantage.

So this lesson from a street fair vendor is an important one for marketers of all sizes: get your cross channel strategy in synch with today's mobile and tech-savvy consumer.

Grab a PDF of this article at: http://A91.acquirgy.net

Irv Brechner has written over 100 published direct marketing articles and 13 books on a variety of topics. He's been a pioneer in online customer acquisition since 1996 and offline for his 35-year career. He has developed Acquirgy.com's "Customer Acquisition Intel Center" (acquirgy.com/intel ) he evangelizes best-of-breed tactics to help companies acquire customers in the digital age. He can be reached at: irv@acquirgy.com .

Read all Irv's MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Customer Acquisition Intel.

Check us out on Facebook at MediaBizBloggers.com
Follow our Twitter updates @MediaBizBlogger

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaBizBloggers.com management or associated bloggers. MediaBizBloggers is an open thought leadership platform and readers may share their comments and opinions in response to all commentaries.