How to buy products from 1688

Have you tried Alibaba or any other Chinese sourcing websites for buying wholesale products for your business?

Want to know a more competitive e-commerce platform providing bulk sources at reasonable prices?

Alibaba group of companies own another e-commerce platform that is a domestic website built for Chinese buyers.

Due to the local foundation set by the platform, it is providing a variety of products both in quality and quantity at local reasonable rates.

Taking advantage of the opportunity many foreigners are looking for ways to buy products from 1688.com.

In this blog, you will see how you can buy products from 1688.com, and what major challenges a foreigner will face when buying products from China using 1688.com in 2022.

Table of Content

Chapter 1:  Overview to 1688.com

Chapter 2: Special features of 1688.com

Chapter 3: Step by step process to buy products from 1688.com

Chapter 4: Steps to finding the reliable supplier on 1688.com

Chapter 5: Challenges offered by 1688.com to the foreign users

Chapter 6: Key points to remember while buying from 1688.com

Chapter 7: Frequently asked questions About 1688

Chapter 1:  Overview to 1688.com

Are you considering buying from 1688.com? Here is a short overview of this marketplace that will provide you with all the important information that you need to know about this platform.

1. What is 1688.com; How was it formed?

1688.com is a marketplace of B2B companies that was established in 2010 in China. It is a subsidiary of the very famous Alibaba.com which is one of the biggest online e-commerce companies.

1688.com was founded to be an exclusive platform for domestic trade, However, it has become the center of attention of many foreign buyers because of cheaper prices and a wide range of variety.

It is currently considered one of the most famous wholesale websites in China with more than 120 million users and 50,000 companies onboard.

The online platform was given the name 1688.com because 1688 sounds like “Yao Liu Ba Ba” in the Chinese language that sounds pretty similar to Alibaba.

2. Suppliers of 1688.com

The suppliers on 1688.com China are all Chinese manufacturers and wholesalers. Since they are all domestic sellers, chances are they won’t know the English language.

Thus you would require to hire a translation agency or learn Mandarin by yourself to be able to communicate with them.

Chinese suppliers accept payment in the local currency that is Renminbi (RMB). If you want to send USD, then the seller must have a separate bank account for accepting dollars.

suppliers on 1688

The suppliers of 1688.com China also need to obtain an export license before exporting products out of China.

In case, suppliers don’t have an export license, they can either get one or hire an export agent for the cause.

3. Advanced features provided by 1688.com

  1. com is getting attention worldwide because of its cheaper process and high-quality products.

Buyers who want to outcompete their rivals select 1688.com for buying directly from the domestic Chinese sellers that are usually not accessible by many.

1688.com is a leading platform that has stores of more than 10 million enterprises.

Many big names such as Evonik, Dow Chemicals, BASF partnered with 1688.com to open their flagship stores on the platform to make online purchasing more convenient and accessible.

Advanced features provided by 1688

4. How 1688.com is different from other Chinese sourcing platforms like Alibaba?

Alibaba is a marketplace that caters to buyers globally, hence the platform is in the English language.

 Users can also translate the webpage into a variety of languages such as Spanish, Japanese, German, Thai, French, Turkish, Hindi, Arabic, Russian, Italian, Vietnamese, Dutch, Portuguese Korean, and Hebrew.

Also, Alibaba being a global marketplace offers many international payment methods such as MasterCard, bank transfer, VISA, and Western Union.

  1. com China on the other hand is wholly dedicated to domestic buyers and sellers that is why its main focus is mainland China.

The website of 1688.com is in Mandarin Chinese, hence difficult for foreign buyers to interpret but you don’t need to worry because you get an option of “English translation” on the website through Google Chrome.

The English translation is not perfect but pretty understandable. The sellers on 1688.com accept RMB for payment. For payment in US Dollars, they need to have separate accounts.

payment methods on 1688

The primary payment methods on 1688.com are WeChat, Alipay, Company’s bank account, and Personal bank account.

The prices offered at 1688.com are cheaper than Alibaba.com because sellers offer local rates at 1688.com while rates are increased at Alibaba.com for foreigners.

Chapter 2: Special features of 1688.com

1688.com offers many exceptional features to offer a seamless online purchasing experience to its customers. Here are some notable features that make 1688.com a distinguished online marketplace.

1. Good quality products from different sellers at local rates are available

  1. com is becoming a top priority of many foreign buyers mainly because they are offered local rates at this marketplace which are very affordable.

Good quality products from different sellers at local rates are available

Buyers can get products in lesser amounts which is certainly not possible on Alibaba.com. As 1688.com mainly focuses on local customers, it makes sure to keep the prices low while maintaining the quality of the products.

2. Varieties of products and product categories are available

  1. com is a marketplace with a wide variety of products made by local manufacturers. Each seller offers unique products with innovative features hence you can get a variety of qualities depending upon your budget.

You can shop from a wide range of categories such as clothing, accessories, sportswear, food, beauty products, appliances, and much more.

The biggest advantage of 1688.com is that the more you buy from this platform, the cheaper the rate gets.

 For example, the price for 2 to 5 pieces is 18.5 RMB, for 6 to 22 pieces, the price will decrease to 15.5 RMB and if you extend your purchase volume to 25 pieces or more, the price is further decreased to 14.5 RMB.

3. Products available at low MOQs

MOQ stands for Minimum Order Quantity. It is the minimum number of products that the seller is ready to supply.

 1688.com is preferred by many buyers because of the reason that it the MOQ it offers is quite low. You can even get 2 to 3 items of a product at 1688.com at cheap rates. While Alibaba.com has a high MOQ and is thus preferred by wholesalers.

4. Responsive sellers always ready to provide the best quote

Products available at low MOQs

The sellers at 1688.com are highly responsive and easy to communicate with. The platform uses a variety of tools to make the communication process seamless.

1688.com also has a user-friendly mobile app which also makes communication with the seller easier.

Many sellers have dedicated staff members who are only responsible to respond to the queries of the buyers.

One thing you have to keep in mind is that the responses will be in Mandarin 99% of the time so you will need a translator for communication.

5. 1688.com offers buyer protection services to avoid being scammed

  1. com makes sure to protect its customers from scams by providing buyer protection services through credit points.

Sellers can lose points if they are found violating the rules of the platform and as a result, their account can be suspended. If they continue to do so the account gets banned eventually.

As a buyer, you can also consider other ways to avoid being scammed such as:

  • Avoid red flags such as branded products available at a very low price as this can be a scam.
  • Always buy from verified sellers having blue tick with their name. If the seller is without a blue tick, you need to be extra cautious. In the case of unverified sellers, make sure they have a good name and reputation in the industry.
  • Always ask for samples in advance, and if the reluctant is unwilling to do so, that is a scam.
  • Don’t send payments to personal or individual accounts. Always ask for accounts registered under the company’s name for the advance payments.
  • Refrain from buying tech products from 1688.com as it is not a preferred platform for tech.

The majority of the sellers on 1688.com are verified and authentic and hence chances of scams are minimal but still, there is no problem in being cautious. If you are dealing with an export agent, they are fully responsible for everything.

Chapter 3: Step by step process to buy products from 1688.com

Google search 1688.com and translate the website to English

Do you want to buy products from 1688.com China but don’t know the buying process?

 Here I have jotted down the entire buying process step by step so you can buy from this platform even if you don’t know Mandarin Chinese. You just need to be very meticulous throughout the process.

1. Google search 1688.com and translate the website to English

Search the website 1688.com in the Google search bar and you will be directed to the platform’s website by clicking on it.

The language of the website is Mandarin Chinese but you will be provided an option of English language as soon as you0020open the website.

Select the “Translate to English” option that is popped up at the top of the website and the language will be switched to English. Now you can easily navigate through the platform without facing any language barrier.

2. Sign up at 1688.com

The next step of buying is to sign up and create an account on 1688.com. I recommend you to sign up at the platform even if you are purchasing through an agent.

Sign up at 1688

Follow the steps below to sign up for a new account on 1688.com.

  • Open the homepage of 1688.com and select the option of “Register” that will direct you to a registration page.
  • The first thing that appears on the registration page is a registration agreement that you have to agree to proceed forward.
  • Next, you are asked to provide necessary account information such as account type (individual or corporate), login name, password, country, and contact number. After filling in the information click “agree to register” to move towards the next step.
  • Next, you will be sent a 6-digit verification code via SMS. Enter this code and submit.
  • Once your number is verified, your account registration is complete.

After the registration, you will be asked to fill in some additional account information that is completely optional.

It includes real name, membership type, name of your company, type of account (seller/buyer/both), and business model. Click the “Save” option to update your account information.

You can ensure your account security by updating login info or by adding additional information from the user center. For further protection, you can also add security questions.

3. Type the relevant keyword for the required product on the search bar or click the camera icon to search image

1688.com is a platform with a variety of products available in different qualities. First, determine what kind of product you want, then enter the relevant keywords in the search bar of the website.

You will be provided with a variety of related products from different suppliers.

Another way is to search for products is ‘image search’. Click on the camera icon available right corner of the search bar.

Using this option, you can upload the image of the product you want to search for and as a result, the website will display a list of related products.

Type the relevant keyword for the required product on the search bar or click the camera icon to search image

4. Find a suitable supplier and communicate on WeChat

The majority of suppliers on 1688.com use WeChat which is a Chinese social messaging app. To communicate with the supplier, register yourself on WeChat through your mobile number.

You can start communication by sending requests to the supplier. You can translate the messages from Chinese to English using the WeChat translation service.

5. Authenticate the product, product description, product quality, and product certifications

Before placing an order, you must check the authenticity of the seller and the quality of its products.

Authenticate about the product, product description, product quality, and product certifications

Firstly, go through all the given details, ask questions in case of any doubt, ask for certifications, and order sample products before placing the actual order.

Verification of authenticity is an important part of a successful purchase from 1688.com.

6. Place the order

After you are satisfied with the seller and its products, check the quality of the samples that you ordered.

If you think the samples qualify the criteria that you set, then you can place an order for products from the supplier at 1688.com.

7. Select a suitable payment option and make payment

personal bank account and a local agent that can help you clear payments

1688.com uses different payment methods. Select the one that suits you best and transfer the amount to the seller.

  • Alipay enables you to transfer payment directly from mobile using a verified Alipay account.
  • WeChat is another multipurpose payment method that is used by the majority of Chinese suppliers.
  • Other options are a personal bank account and a local agent that can help you clear payments.

The buyer needs to send RMBs because sellers only accept this currency. If you have US dollars you will have to open a local account to convert US dollars to RMB.

8. Choose any shipping method to ship the products

Choose any shipping method to ship the products

After you are done with the payments, you have to choose the shipment methods. As 1688.com is a domestic marketplace that ships products only in China.

They cannot ship internationally because they do not have internationally established shipment methods.

You can hire shipping companies or export agents as a middleman to help you ship products from China to your doorstep. The primary shipment methods are truck, ocean, and air freight.

Chapter 4: Steps to finding the reliable supplier on 1688.com

Finding a reliable supplier is the biggest concern of new as well as old buyers. 1688.com on-boards the authentic suppliers but finding the one that suits you the best is up to you.

Here are some ways by which you can find the best suitable supplier for your business among many.

1. The company page shows all the registered suppliers

The company page shows all the registered suppliers

To find reliable suppliers go to the homepage of 1688.com and you will find all the reliable sellers on the platform. Prefer the ones with blue tick with their names as they are the verified ones.

 Another indicator of authenticity is that the supplier’s manufacturing company has the following factors in its name i.e. name of the company, registration location, main product, and partnership.

This information helps you find the right supplier for you. You can choose the supplier whose location suits you best in terms of shipment.

Product specification determines the expertise of the supplier in a certain category hence you can choose the one that specifically produces your product.

2. Check out the number of medals received by the suppliers

The number of medals received by the suppliers is another indicator of authenticity.  The seller having more medals is more credible than the one with less or no medals. You can see the medals on the sellers’ profiles.

2)Check out the number of medals received by the suppliers

3. Lookout if the supplier is a manufacturer or trader

Not every seller on 1688.com is not a manufacturer, some are traders as well. Look into this matter before placing an order because it is more convenient when the seller is the manufacturer as well.

4. Check if the supplier is working in a specialized category or not

The suppliers on the 1688.com marketplace sell products of different categories such as clothing, accessories, appliances, etc.

When you are finding a supplier, check whether they work in any specialized category or not. If you want to buy clothes, choose a supplier who specializes in the clothing category.

5. Check how many employees are working under one category

Several employees working under the supplier tell how big or small their business is. If the number of employees ranges is between 50 to 100, the supplier’s manufacturing business is a small scale hence it can only cater small orders.

If the range of employees is 500 to 1000 that shows the supplier has a large-scale manufacturing business and can deliver your bulk orders.

6. Look for the advertised pictures shared by the supplier

Suppliers’ profile is a mirror of their authenticity. Go through their profile, check important information like previous orders, delivery time, no of returns, etc. also check if there is any photo or video of their working space, factories, and offices.

 This will help you get an idea of their working environment and their professionalism.

7. Understand what each symbol means

The supplier’s profile has various symbols; each one means different. Understand each of them so you can know what they stand for while selecting a supplier.

  • The symbol of bull means that the supplier has a strong business and work ethic.
  • The symbol of the Chinese character stands for the honest history of the supplier that means the supplier has a clean record of deliveries.
  • The symbol with the tick means that the information provided by the seller is authentic and has been awarded in-depth factory inspection certification.

Chapter 5: Challenges offered by 1688.com to the foreign users

Unlike Alibaba.com which is a global marketplace, 1688.com is a local marketplace meant for local sellers and buyers.

 If any foreigner decides to buy products from 1688.com, things can be a bit difficult because this marketplace does not cater to international customers. Here are the major 5 challenges you can face being a foreign user.

1. Domestic website in the Chinese language

Domestic website in the Chinese language

  1. com is a domestic marketplace that solely serves the local buyers and suppliers of mainland China.
  2. Keeping this fact in mind, the website of this marketplace is in Mandarin Chinese which is impossible for foreigners to understand unless they know the language.
  3. Foreign users thus have to hire someone for translation services or they can use the inbuilt feature of Google translation.

2. Payment method issues; only allowing local payments

  1. com being a domestic marketplace offers only local payment methods that are WeChat, Alipay, company’s or personal bank account.
  2. Chinese suppliers only accept in the RMB currency thus you have to convert US dollars into RMB. Another way is to hire a local agent that acts as a middleman for paying your bills in China.

3. Shipment methods issues; only allowing local shipment

Since the suppliers of 1688.com ship only within China, they are unable to ship internationally because they do not have established shipping networks.

 If you buy from 1688.com you will need an exporting agency or shipment agent who can pick your order from the supplier and deliver it to your doorstep.

4. Product quality validation

Product quality validation

Products available at 1688.com are not validated for their quality. Hence sellers can sell whatever they want.

 To make sure you buy a quality product, you have to make a quality check by yourself. To do so, check the verification tick on the seller’s profile, quality certifications, number of employees, and number of previous orders.

Make sure to order sample products before the actual order.

5. Suppliers usually do not export to foreign

1688.com suppliers mainly work for inland customers thus they do not have export licenses as they do not need one. If you buy from 1688.com as a foreign buyer, exporting products will be an issue for which you will need to hire exporting agents.

It is better to find suppliers who have exporting licenses so that product shipment does not become an issue.

Chapter 6: Key points to remember while buying from 1688.com

If you want to buy from 1688.com without facing any trouble, make sure to follow key points for a seamless online shopping experience.

1. The quality of the product can’t be judged by the online picture

Product quality validation

At the end of the day, 1688.com is a marketplace that sells products online. Being a foreign buyer, it is difficult for you to check the product quality in-person thus you will be left with no option to judge the product quality through pictures.

 However, there is one solution which is to ask for sample products. Samples help you determine the material and quality of the products beforehand.

2. Do not buy big and heavy products from 1688.com

  1. com is not the most suitable option to buy big and heavy products. If you want to do so, make sure to read the description, ask for the material quality and shipment method.
  2. Don’t forget to order samples. Heavy products are difficult to ship internationally and can cost you a high shipment amount.

3. Before confirming the order do check for the refund/return policy

  1. com favors the buyers by offering a refund or return policy. Make sure to confirm that these policies are included in the final proposal before placing an order.
  2. In case the supplier delays your order or fails to deliver, you can always ask for a refund to make up for your time wasted.

4. Collect verification proofs from sellers/suppliers

Collect verification proofs from sellers

Always check the authenticity of the supplier before placing an order. Some of the factors that indicate authenticity include, blue verification tick on the supplier’s profile, authenticity badges, a higher number of employees, and other symbols on the seller’s profile.

5. Do not transfer payments on personal accounts

Always keep in mind to ask for the company’s bank account for payments. Authentic suppliers always have a bank account registered under the name of their company.

 Avoid sending money to any individual or personal accounts as it can be a scam.

6. Only confirm orders from the suppliers who are willing to send samples

Always ask for samples before placing the bulk order. If the supplier is authentic, he will readily agree to your demand.

And if the supplier is not willing to send a sample, it is a red flag that that supplier might be a scam.

7. Check the reviews of the suppliers before confirming orders

Reviews on the profile tell you the history of the supplier. You can always determine whether the supplier is delivering quality products or not by checking the reviews.

Chapter 7: Frequently asked questions About 1688

1. How to communicate with the suppliers if you don’t know Chinese?

The language barrier keeps many foreign buyers from communicating with Chinese suppliers. However, there are ways by which you can communicate with them.

  • Learn Mandarin Chinese by yourself to communicate directly.
  • Hire an agent to convey and receive the messages.
  • Chat through the app WeChat and use the app’s translation services.

2. Is it possible to pay in dollars at 1688.com?

Chinese suppliers only accept payment in RBM or CNY. If you want to pay through US dollars you first need to convert dollars into RBM and then transfer it to the supplier.

You can do so by contacting any agent who can do the job for you.

3. How to translate the website 1688.com into English?

1688.com is a domestic marketplace whose website is in Chinese for the ease of local customers. If you want to translate the website into English, simply search the website on the Google search bar.

As soon as you open the website, a box pops up at the top with the option of translating into English. Select the option which will refresh the page and the website will now appear in English.

4. What is the difference between 1688.com and Alibaba? Is it better than Alibaba?

Alibaba.com is a global marketplace that caters to customers from all over the world. Alibaba’s website is in English and can be translated into various other languages like French, German, Arabic, Korean, Turkish, and many others.

As it is a global marketplace it offers various international payment methods like Western Union, VISA, Master card, etc.

While 1688.com is a marketplace for Chinese domestic trade. The website is in the Chinese language and the payment method it offers are all local. Similarly, the suppliers on 1688.com only ship within China. They are unable to export internationally.

com is better than Alibaba in the sense that you can find quality products at cheaper rates. The MOQ is quite low, some products can be bought in quantities as less as 1 or 2. If you want to outrank your competitors, 1688.com is the right marketplace for you.

5. Are there 1688.com buying agents?

There are so many buying agents who help you buy products from 1688.com and make buying hassle-free hassle-free.

The reason is that they are professionals who have years of experience and they know the pros and cons of this industry. They have strong work ethics and will ensure you a secure shipment of products to your doorstep.

 Buying agents will transfer all the money directly to the supplier and do not charge any additional payment. Hiring a buying agent is the best thing you can do as a foreign buyer.

6. Do 1688.com listed suppliers have export licenses?

All the suppliers of 1688.com do not have export licenses as they mainly supply within China. You can hire exporting agents or look for suppliers who have an export license so you don’t face issues while shipping the products.

Conclusion

If you are planning to expand your business and outcompete your rivals, the 1688.com marketplace is the right option for you.

You will get an incredible range of products in different categories at cheap rates. Things can be a bit complicated if you are outside of China because 1688.com is a domestic marketplace that mainly focuses on inland trade.

You will have to face challenges like the language barrier, international shipment methods, and payment issues. However, you can solve this problem by hiring buying agents who can do the job for you.