3 Quick Ways to Determine Market Demand for Wholesale Apparel

6 min. read
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Choosing what to sell is always a conundrum for dropshippers because there are so many choices out there. Even when you've narrowed it down to a single category, there's still the problem of which specific products you will include in your listings.

Clothing is one of the top selling categories of products online, but wholesale apparel distributors will give you a large list of branded and unbranded lines that you have to filter through. When done right, reselling wholesale clothing can yield high profits. As usual though, you'll have to choose wisely to produce your desired results.

Customers typically do searches using brands, although they won't always buy branded because of the higher cost in comparison to unbranded look-alikes. However, if you manage to find direct wholesale apparel distributors who offer products at low enough prices that you can keep your costs down, you can offer branded clothes at lower prices and make a killing.

Normally, we would focus on choosing the right distributor, but in this instance we will look at what brands are rocking it online. So let's get going!

1. Keep your Ear to the Ground

There are plenty of ways to measure market demand, but the simplest ways are often the best. You can just listen. Of course, with social media playing a dominant role in e-commerce, even listening can be quite complicated.

You can check out your own networks as far as who's talking about what products, perform web searches using various keyword combinations and see how many results turn up for each, and even send out surveys to your friends and family as well as your customers. The better part of listening is asking the right questions, after all.

Get a broad range of opinions before settling on a brand; interest doesn't always equate to demand. Remember that Hobby Lobby was generating plenty of interest recently, but not necessarily a ton of demand for its offerings. That company is in a different niche, but you get the spirit of the example.

There's also a handy Google tool called Trends, which allows you to view the amount of search volume a brand receives over time. As we've stated earlier, search volume doesn't necessarily translate to sales, but it's still a good indicator of where the market stands in relation to your idea or offering.

2. Dedicated Keyword Research

Let's face it. Search engines are the driving force of the information age. They can tell you everything from today's weather to the history of Fiji in the middle ages. But the important thing to recognize is that the little keywords or keyword phrases used to direct and determine the massive amounts of internet traffic are a force to be leveraged and harnessed for your own understanding of the wholesale apparel niche.

The Google Keyword Planner should be your first stop.

With Google's signature keyword research tool, it's easy to ascertain market demand in only a few minutes. Use brand names and specific products as your keywords and see what pops up. Usually high search volumes, and high rates of competition indicate high market demand.

You can even gauge market demand based on how high the suggested AdWords bid for the specific term is. The higher the bids, the more competitive the niche, and consequently: the higher the market demand.

Yet, even here, we're still talking in terms of searches and perusals. We've yet to come up against any hard sales statistics. That's where the Salehoo Research Lab comes into play.

3. Market Analysis

By far the most effective method of measuring brand demand is market analysis. You can perform market analyses using the SaleHoo Research Lab, to find out how many listings are selling for any particular brand. Knowing this, we've compiled a small case study to discover which brands might be the most viable candidates for wholesale apparel sales.

According to fashionista.com, the fashion brands that were most searched in Google in 2013 included Michael Kors, Gucci, and Nike. Again, however, searches don't necessarily translate to sales. Furthermore, they don't indicate what price they go for. Keep in mind that brand new items will have a different price saturation point than used branded clothing.

We're going to take a look at 15 of the most popular brands in wholesale apparel sales today, and use the SRL to get a snapshot of how these brands are actually doing on eBay. The following charts are from May 29 to August 2, 2014.

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The most important figure you want to note is the success rate. This signifies the percentage of listings of these products that actually sold within the time period. It does not take into account how many people looked at the listing without clicking on the buy or bid buttons.

The way the percentages turn out could have something to do with the fact that the sellers of products that didn't do so well put a Buy it Now (BIN) price that is more than what the customers are willing to pay. Check out Asos and Gap, which are relatively inexpensive brands, but which didn't do very well in the countdown because the average BIN was significantly more than the average sale price. It isn't always true (check out Michael Kors and Converse), but in most cases this has a notable impact.

Another important factor for choosing what popular brand you should be selling is that of competition. You want to sell what's popular but you don't want to get lost in the crowd. Let's take a look again at what is happening to these clothing brands on eBay in terms of how easy it is to sell.


As you can see, most of these popular brands are rated as hard to sell because there are more listings than there are bids. This means that some listings don't even get a nibble, let alone a bite. If you check out the number of sellers, there are a lot of them out there for the more popular brands such as Nike and Coach, so you would think why bother? But because they are middle-of-the-road price-wise and highly popular, they are relatively easy to sell and makes the effort and time spent on listing them worthwhile.

These statistics will give you a good idea of what clothing brands will most likely do well on eBay and potentially garner you the most profit. That is, provided you find legitimate and reliable wholesale apparel distributors that will give you a good price.

Apparel is particularly suited to drop shipping because you can give your clients a wide choice of sizes and colors without worrying about what you have in stock. However, because there are so many factors of choice involved in apparel, it can be difficult to decide what to focus on. Hopefully, the figures above have given you an idea of what you should look for when making a choice. At the very least, you should make use of something like the Salehoo Research Lab tool to determine the profitability for the branded apparel you are thinking of selling.

Note that these figures refer to a period of a little over 2 months, and that some of these clothing brands may have seasonal fluctuations that would make them more profitable at certain periods than others. Moreover, the list is far from complete; the basis of their inclusion in the table is their popularity in Google searches in 2013.

The fashion industry is notoriously fickle, where one day you're in, and the next day you're out. If you are serious about concentrating on clothing and apparel as your niche market in drop shipping, you constantly need to have your ear on the ground to find out what's currently shaking.

If you'd like to learn more about supply and demand check out another helpful article 

About the author
Zack Rutherford

Zack Rutherford is a freelance copywriter. A combat sports enthusiast and poetic soul, he endeavors to create beauty through syntax, sentence structure, and the liberal use of hyperbole.

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  • bopa 7th of April
    i need to know WHAT is the market demand for my product (women clothing), and although this website helped more than others, it didn't really help me find what i truly needed.
    • Justin Golschneider SaleHoo Admin 10th of April
      Hi Bopa! Have you tried using the techniques shown here to perform your own research?