PR Opinions posits that the wider array of information available (for any and all products) is making the sales cycle longer and more complex:
In the past, I might have got a couple of brochures from some manufacturers, visited a couple of retail outlets and made a decision. Today that purchase process is far more complex.
I'll search for all the manufacturers. I'll go to all their sites and read their literature. I'll visit the relevant magazines and read the reviews, visit mailing lists, consumer opinion sites. I'll still pop into the retail store and finally I'll make my "educated" opinion. Then, once I've parted with my cash and my post-purchase cognitive dissonance sets in, I'll re-visit my chosen vendor's website to be reassured that I made the right decision.
That is a longer and more demanding sales cycle.
Hadn't really given this much thought, but it sounds right. There's a positive to this as well - in the software space, the "row of books at Borders" problem has been ameliorated somewhat. As more and better information appears online, you can compensate better as a niche player. It takes work, of course, but it can be done. Read the whole thing.