Are you looking for the best platforms such as Alibaba vs 1688 to look for suppliers from China?

If you want to compare these platforms, the two well-known B2B platforms, this is the best article you can read for complete guidance.

In this article, we will compare Alibaba vs. 1688, which one is better in terms of goods’ category, payment methods, shipping methods, pros and cons, etc. We will reveal the reviews of the customers of these 2 platforms. We will also analyze that which one offers the cheaper price, have fast response time, best quality products and more.

We want to give you the honest possible reviews that will serve as your reference in buying online and getting the most out of your money. It is important that you choose only the best for what you need for your business.

Table of Content

Chapter 1: What is Alibaba?

Chapter 2: What is the 1688 wholesale platform

Chapter 3: What are the similarities and differences of Alibaba vs 1688?

Chapter 4: Pros of Alibaba vs 1688

Chapter 5: Cons of Alibaba vs 1688

Chapter 6: How to buy from Alibaba wholesale platform

Chapter 7: How to buy from 1688 wholesale platform

Chapter 8: Which is better for Dropshipping: Alibaba vs 1688?

Chapter 9: Looking for Sourcing Agents When Importing From China

Chapter 10: FAQs about Alibaba vs 1688

Chapter 1: What is Alibaba?

what-is-alibaba-vs-1688 is a B2B platform of international trade. It is the go-to website to find suppliers and items manufactured in China. Since its launching, the platform has increased the number of international sellers.

Although the majority of the sellers are of Chinese origin, the website also has foreign sellers. Also, vast numbers of the products you can find in Amazon are outsourced from Alibaba.

1. Alibaba Company’s Background

The founder is Jack Ma. He was working as an English teacher in Hangzhou when he founded Alibaba and became a giant company in e-commerce. Alibaba Group Holding Limited launched in 1999.

It provides B2B sales services using an online platform. In 2014, the company raised an initial public offering of US$25 billion. At that time the market value of the company reached $231 billion and became one of the largest IPO worldwide.

In 2018, Alibaba gained its recognition to be the second-largest company in Asia. It broke the record of the $500 billion valuation mark.

In 2020, the company ranked in 6th place for the highest global brand valuation. It is now one of the largest e-commerce companies and as a fifth-largest artificial company.

2. Best Features of Alibaba

Alibaba is the largest marketplace in the world. The merchants here are trustworthy. The platform offers Trade Assurance. It is a verification program for their suppliers and protects the payment through its payment platform.


The benefit of Trade Assurance is its convenient payment options which include PayPal, credit card payment, and financing options for qualified US buyers. The payment is secure as it tracks and reconciles funds with suppliers.

Chapter 2: What is the 1688 wholesale platform

1. 1688 Company’s Background is also a subsidiary of Alibaba Group of Company in China and was established in 2010. Before, it only served as a platform for sellers in sourcing their items for e-commerce in China. Then later, it becomes the source of products for eBay and Amazon sellers.

It is only for China’s domestic market with Chinese language support. The service caters to B2C, B2B, manufacturing, and wholesale businesses. Many businesses opt to source their products from 1688 for its relatively cheaper prices.

It is the largest wholesale website for Chinese locals. Many trading companies also purchase their products from 1688 with over 50,000 legitimate sellers.

2. Best Features of 1688


1688 is an excellent procurement platform which offers very affordable price in the market. It is the most complete and largest purchase site in China. It is closer to the manufacturer and covers multiple categories including the following:

  • Industrial products
  • Raw materials
  • Home department stores

  • Apparel
  • Small commodities
  • Supply services

Chapter 3: What are the similarities and differences of Alibaba vs 1688?

1. Common Features of Alibaba vs 1688

Alibaba vs 1688 in terms of their pronunciation sounds are the same. 1688 sounds like “yāo liù baba” which means 1- want, 6- successful, 8- getting rich. They are both e-commerce platforms for Chinese manufactured products.


They are owned by Alibaba Group with multiple sellers of products. They don’t manage the product stocks, because the sellers have their own stock and are responsible for order fulfillment. Prices on Alibaba and 1688 are both negotiable, especially for larger quantities

Being one of the biggest e-commerce companies worldwide, Alibaba places measures in detecting fraud, and it removes fake and dishonest sellers from the platforms.

2. Different Features of Alibaba vs 1688

Alibaba caters worldwide, 1688 is solely dedicated to the Chinese domestic market.

You can navigate the platform in English when you use the Alibaba platform. You can also translate the webpage from different languages such as French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Japanese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese, Hindi, Dutch, Indonesian, and Hebrew languages.

Alibaba features international payment methods such as VISA, Mastercard, Western Union, and bank transfer.

On the other hand, 1688 uses Chinese language as it focuses more on domestic customers. The payment methods are also domestic using WeChat Pay, Alipay, and Credit cards from Chinese banks.

1688 offers local Chinese prices, while Alibaba’s prices increases for foreign customers. If you want to beat the market prices, you have to source your business products where the locals are sourcing. That’s the main advantage of 1688 over Alibaba.

Chapter 4: Pros of Alibaba vs 1688


1. Pros of Alibaba

-Customer Relationship

Alibaba receives commendation because of its good customer relationship among its international clients. The seller’s membership fee on Alibaba costs thousands of dollars annually.

The company ensures that only legitimate suppliers are uploading their information on the platform. There are English staffs working in shifts to attend to customer inquiries and concerns.


Alibaba has its trade assurance which is using third-party escrow payment. It is safe to transfer the funds to Alibaba’s account. Then, escrow will hold it until such time that you receive your goods in good condition. The payment options are convenient such as TT wire transfers or PayPal for small order quantities.

-Quality of Products

Alibaba vs 1688, In terms of quality, Alibaba has extensive experience handling international customers and can offer higher quality products. The sellers are already aware of the design requirements for their overseas buyers.

Most of the Alibaba sellers’ are selling on Amazon through the FBA service under a private label. Therefore, the manufacturers can cater to the special requirements needed for shipping to Amazon’s warehouse. These include the packaging instructions and labelling procedures.

2. Pros of 1688


If you want to take advantage of having suppliers that your competitors cannot access, 1688 has decent suppliers not registered in Alibaba.

These companies are big enough to offer their products in mainland but there are no English-speaking staffs. Also, the export license is their major concern, so they prefer to cater to mainland China’s customer base.

The price is relatively cheaper and the products are also of high quality. The mobile app messaging app is far better than its international counterpart.

However, there is no English version or support. You can expect a fast response from the sales staff, but in Chinese language.

If you are looking for sub-suppliers and you have complex products, 1688 can be your great option. Even multinational corporations started offering their products which they sourced from 1688. These companies are Dow Chemical, Evonik, BASF, and more.

Chapter 5: Cons of Alibaba vs 1688

1. Cons of Alibaba


Customers find it misleading on the prices and MOQs which are displayed on the Alibaba website. But only after communicating with the seller, this is where you will receive the actual quote. So, if you would compare the real price from different sellers, it would be time-consuming for price comparison.

-Minimum Order Quantities 

Other suppliers would mark up higher on the MOQs for foreign customers as compared to local clients. But some suppliers are willing to bargain and lower the minimum order requirements if there is an adjustment on the prices.

-Trading Companies 

If you don’t do an in-depth investigation, you will never know that some suppliers are trading companies. Some of the companies have the term trading in their account name. Sometimes, you will get the items manufactured by another company. You can conduct a factory visit to confirm with the seller.

-User Interface

Alibaba vs 1688 in terms of user interface, customers find the mobile and desktop versions of confusing. The messenger app is outdated and can lag.

2. Cons of 1688


No English support. That is one of the downsides of 1688 mobile app messenger and their online platform.

You will need a native speaker to translate for you or you can use Google Translate to translate the webpage but you still need to use Chinese if you need to communicate with the sales staff. You can also hire a sourcing agent to make transactions on your behalf.

Alibaba vs 1688, in terms of quality, you can buy from high to low quality from 1688. The disadvantage is that the sellers do not need to meet international quality standards since they cater domestically.

They only accept domestic payment methods such as local bank transfers, WeChat, Alipay, or cash basis. You can’t use Paypal nor send money from overseas.

Most of the sellers do not have the export license to do international trade transactions. They have a lack of experience handling foreign clients. Therefore, it is risky to import products from 1688 without international trading experience.

Chapter 6: How to buy from Alibaba wholesale platform


1. Sourcing Products From Alibaba

You can search for millions of products available when buying from Alibaba. You can find both trading companies and manufacturers. There are filters for the location of the suppliers, certifications earned, minimum order quantity, and product prices. You can also check if they can offer free samples or not.

Please note that if you ask for one sample, the supplier may not charge you, but you need to bear the freight cost. It will guarantee your products will be shipped but will not give you quality guarantees.

If you order large volumes, most suppliers will ask you to deposit through wire transfer. Then, you can pay the remaining balance once the items are ready for shipment.

2. Looking for Best Suppliers on Alibaba

When looking for the right suppliers, do not settle for few options. Explore the suppliers based on their credentials. Gold suppliers are premium members of Alibaba. They provide comprehensive ways of promoting their items and maximize product exposure.

However, do not solely base your trust in Gold membership but you can also check those assessed Suppliers. Aside from their Gold membership, they are also Hongkong Gold Suppliers and Taiwan Gold Suppliers.

Their company information has been checked through factory audits, verified main products, and passed the assessment reports.

Another thing, check the results page for Supplier Response Rate. This would give you an idea of the response rate of the suppliers.


3. Important Things to Know When Buying from Alibaba

If you want superior quality for the products, check for the reviews. Make payment through wire transfers for bigger transactions. You may also start ordering in small purchases for first orders.

When buying for wholesale, know the exact quality, specifications, and product features. Negotiate with the suppliers and ask for the MOQ, product quality, and manufacturing lead time.

Suppliers have MOQs because the suppliers mass produce their items and keep stocks. The suppliers only produce items on demand. Therefore, they need enough orders to manufacture some products which can take time.

Ask for samples, including the packaging sample of the items. You are assured that Alibaba will not release the payment if you have not received the items in good quality condition.

Chapter 7: How to buy from 1688 wholesale platform


1. Sourcing Products from 1688

You can go to the online platform of and translate the website into English. Use the Google Chrome browser to translate the web page to your preferred language. Then you can search for all the products you need from the search box.

There are thousands of suppliers in 1688. You can use the camera icon in the line of the search bar. In this part, it is recommended not to translate Chinese to English.

You can save the image of the products you are searching for and upload it in 1688 by clicking the camera button. Then, you can find great collections of the products available. Another option is searching for products, just type using the name of the products in the search box and filter.

2. Looking for Best Suppliers on 1688

You need a sourcing agent to communicate with the Chinese sales staff of 1688 to act as a middleman in your transaction. You can check the supplier’s information when you open the seller’s home page.

You can also see the number of employees to know if the company is small (100-500 employees), mature business (500-1000 employees), or a wholesale business.


Another thing is to look for a powerful business icon. It would give you options for three basic elements – Good Quality Products, On-Time Delivery, and High Sales Volume.

3. Important Things to Know When Buying from 1688

All suppliers from 1688 have government business licenses to operate to become 1688 sellers.

Meaning, all the products are real.

Check the details on the seller’s store including the company’s business, company address, registered capital, date of incorporation, etc. Just click “View Business Registration Information.”

If you will source products on your own, you need to have a Chinese Bank account that links to your Alipay account.

That’s the only time you can register from 1688. Also, you need a Chinese phone number for SMS verification, and a Chinese warehouse or address when you receive your products.

Chapter 8: Which is better for Dropshipping: Alibaba vs 1688?


Dropshipping was originated in China. If you are new in this business, you need to understand that Alibaba has four major websites. It includes Alibaba International Station, 1688, Aliexpress, and Taobao. We will review Alibaba vs 1688 in terms of dropshipping reviews.

1. Reviews in Dropshipping from Alibaba

Alibaba is equivalent to 1688 but caters internationally. Half are Chinese manufacturers, while half of them are foreign trade services. The price is also inexpensive but you have to meet certain MOQs.

There is a need for manufacturing time so this is recommended for big businesses with lots of stocks but not suitable for dropshipping.

2. Reviews in Dropshipping from 1688

1688 does not support English, and you may find it challenging to search for goods and read the product reviews. The communication with the suppliers may take time for dropshipping details.

You can have a wider choice of goods. The prices are cheaper for your dropshipping business. When you choose a reliable sourcing agent, you can get photos or videos of the products. You can compare the quality and texture. This way, you can save time for any possible return of items and quality dispute.

The payment does not support International methods like MasterCard, Visa Card or international bank transfer, so you will need an agent to pay for the goods. Also, your agent can help you consolidate multiple items from multiple suppliers into one order.

The dropshipping cost is higher since you have to pay for the agent fee, product, domestic and international shipping.

But, the advantage of 1688 dropshipping is the wholesale price of the goods with better quality. You can grow your business in the long term with your better experience shopping in 1688.

Overall, 1688 dropshipping is more suitable for a business that wants to build its marketing strategy for private labels.

Chapter 9: Looking for Sourcing Agents When Importing From China


1. How to look for the best sourcing agents from China

It is necessary to look and work with the right sourcing agent or company. They are experienced in helping you throughout the sourcing process. A good sourcing company can save you from stress.

While growing your business, you can let your sourcing agent manage the product sourcing and direct you to the best suppliers.

You don’t need to worry about the culture and language barrier, the headaches from filtering the suppliers, factory audit, quality control, shipping, and logistics process.

From sourcing, the products for your business to shipping, sourcing agents are responsible for overseas sales and offer you the most reasonable price for your import products.

When looking for the best sourcing agents from China, here are the qualities that you can look for:

-Trustworthy in Business

You would know that the best sourcing agent belongs to a company with a long-term established business. Do not deal with someone who has no good track record history in terms of experience, expertise, trading knowledge, etc.

-Provides Good Customer Rating and Review 

If the sourcing agent is experienced in sourcing products, ratings and reviews from the customers must be available. Good ratings and reviews can testify how professional the sourcing agent is, in establishing a relationship with his clients.

-Communicates Well and Responds in Timely Manner

The first thing you need to ensure is the communication level of the sourcing agent. He must be fluent in English and Chinese to ensure that there would be no communication gap in the middle of the transactions.

You don’t have the luxury of time to wait for a long response from the sourcing agent. You are expecting him to be the intermediary between you and the supplier. Any delay would give you more stress instead of saving yourself from the hassle in negotiations.

-Complete in Business Registration

If you don’t want to compromise your business, you have to ensure that your sourcing agent is legal to make trading transactions. Check the business registration, license, and documentation needed to verify if the sourcing agent is legit.

-Can Filter the Best Supplier for Your Business

If the sourcing agent has already worked with several clients, it will not take time for him to provide the list of best suppliers for your business. He must have a large network of trustworthy suppliers who can offer the best products for your business needs.

2. What are the top best sourcing agents from China?


Several sourcing agents from China can help you with product sourcing, factory audit, quality control, checking the contracts, logistics, warehousing, and shipping. You can see lots of sourcing agents and companies online, but here are the top best sourcing agents you can work with:

-EJET Sourcing

The best thing about EJET Sourcing is that it can give 100% security to the buyers. The company makes sure you purchase from legit suppliers without any issues in the quality and payment process. You can work with the best team of professionals and experts in product sourcing.

Their services are flexible from sourcing and consulting, buying service, travel arrangement, factory inspection, quality audit, custom products, Amazon FBA service, financial support, warehousing, logistics, and shipping.

-Meeno Group Sourcing Agent

The company also provides complete sourcing services and develops a very detailed sourcing plan. It includes the current market condition which you can utilize.

They would attend to your inquiry within 48 hours. Their services include but are not limited to sourcing products, quality inspection, repacking, warehouse storage, shipping administration, and customs clearances.

-Dragon Sourcing 

This is a global company with offices in Shanghai, Vietnam, Hongkong, USA, Australia, UK, France, Brazil, Kenya, South Africa, and Turkey.

The company does not only provide sustainable values for businesses sourcing products from China with their vast services from sourcing, product development, and shipping.

-LincSourcing China Sourcing Agent

The company established a large network with hundreds of suppliers from all types of industries. Their procurement service is efficient in reducing your business cost. Their expertise is not limited to product sourcing, but it also offers business negotiation, legal advice, factory audit, and technical stuff.

-KeenSourcing China Sourcing Company

The specialization of KeenSourcing is Amazon FB service for small businesses importing products from China. They offer from their list of suppliers the best quality yet at a lower cost. They also offer complete service from sourcing, verification, quality audit, laboratory testing, factory inspection, production monitoring, price negotiations, shipping, and logistics assistance.

-Leeline Sourcing Company

The target market of Leeline sourcing is from small to medium scale businesses. They have thousands of carriers and suppliers. Aside from product sourcing, quality, and factory inspection, they also do a pre-shipment inspection. The company also offers Amazon FBA sourcing.

-Easy Imex 

With their list of comprehensive suppliers, it would help you reduce your efforts on looking for the right products.

The company makes sure that the suppliers can conform to the technical requirements of your business needs. They also offer full service from sourcing, sampling, quality inspection, shipping, and logistics.

-JingSourcing Company

The company is known for helping small-scale businesses in sourcing products and importing from China.

They categorized their service into four- free, basic, pro, and extra packages. Their full service also offers product sourcing, consulting, manufacturing, sample customization, exporting, importing, quality and factory inspection, free warehouse storage, low-cost shipping, and product follow-up.

Chapter 10: FAQs about Alibaba vs 1688


1. Which is a more recommended platform, Alibaba vs 1688?

Alibaba vs 1688 in terms of recommended platform, depends on how equipped you are in trading. As you know, Alibaba caters to international customers and can handle international trades. While, if you go for a cheaper price, 1688 can be the best option.

Many products from 1688 are bottom price direct from the factory. They have over 50,000 from small to medium sellers providing products for Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, etc.

Access to more first-hand resources is here, but if you don’t understand Chinese and there is no agent to work for you, it would be challenging. You can only buy from 1688 if you have a Chinese bank account or Alipay.

2. Which is a safer platform to buy from China, Alibaba vs 1688?

Alibaba vs 1688 in terms of being a safe platform, they both are safe to use. All the suppliers of the products are filtered and legitimate to sell. The risk and safety part comes with:

  • how you deal with the suppliers
  • how you conduct your research
  • how you compare from the list of best suppliers
  • how well you understand from sourcing products to shipment process
  • how you work with a reliable sourcing agent, etc.

3. Which is less complicated in shipping, Alibaba vs 1688?

Alibaba vs 1688 in terms of which one is less complicated in shipping would be Alibaba. This is especially if you would not hire a sourcing agent since you need a Chinese address or warehouse when you purchase from 1688.

For Alibaba, you just have to complete the shipping details and the supplier can ship your items to your address. They ship via FedEx, DHL, or UPS. For US delivery, if your shipment is under $800, there is no duty charge.

Alibaba shipment via air may take from 3-10 business days. If you use sea freight service, it can take from 30-45 days of delivery.

4. Does 1688 also provide a similar option to Alibaba Trade Assurance?

Unlike in Alibaba where you can prevent from being scammed with their Trade Assurance, the best way to shop from 1688 is to look for a sourcing agent. It is highly recommended if you would want to look for trustworthy suppliers.

5. Is there a 1688 website in English?

There is no English version of 1688 in English. However, to translate the web page, you need to use Google Chrome browser and translate it. Either you can download Google translate extension to Google Chrome extension, or click the right button then “translate to English.”

Please note that when you translate the web page into English, you can see a blank middle part. Don’t worry as you can still follow the guide. If you are still having a hard time understanding the page, better to look for someone who is fluent in Chinese to do the translation for you.


Sourcing products in China can give you a great experience. There are lots of platforms you can get your goods at the lowest price. It also means to choose between e-commerce which is good for your business. This article helps you weigh the pros and cons of using Alibaba and 1688.

For beginners with smaller order sizes, Alibaba is a better option. The English support and experience in handling international clients will make it easier for smooth transactions. For seasoned procurement in China, 1688 can give the business a competitive edge.

While Alibaba is a key player in the B2B e-commerce industry, suppliers and buyers globally have used the platform to scale their business. On the other hand, 1688 is the primary source of domestic buyers with a wide range of suppliers at the lowest cost.

It’s no longer a question of Alibaba vs 1688 in terms of their advantage to your business. You just have to make sure that you deal with the right suppliers and get the best products for your business. It is a matter of enough knowledge, tools, resources, and best sourcing agents for successful product sourcing from China.