Complete Guide of How to Buy from 1688.com
1688.com is a website quite similar to Alibaba.com. It is entirely in Chinese and is focused on the domestic market in China which makes it difficult for non-Chinese speaking people to buy from 1688.c0m. Like Alibaba.com you can find wholesale manufacturers, suppliers and trading companies on 1688.com and you can get directly get in touch with them. In this guide, we’ll talk all about why you should consider sourcing products from 1688.com and also what problems you can face when doing so.
1688.com is basically a B2B supplier directory which is owned by Alibaba Group – that is why it is quite similar to Alibaba.com. You can buy from 1688.com and can find trading companies, wholesalers, and factories across all industries.
Chapter 1: Why Source from 1688.com
Wholesalers and retailers can reap many benefits when they buy from 1688.com. Primarily, 1688.com has original sellers and suppliers which means you side step resellers and trading companies and purchase your products directly from the original suppliers and manufacturers.
When you buy from 1688.com you can cut down the purchasing cost and save money. Which in turn, also helps your bottom line. Advertised prices on 1688.com are often way less than those you will find on well-known stores in China like AliExpress and DHgate.
Typically, many sellers on other platforms like DHgate and AliExpress buy from 1688.com and re-sell them. Essentially, 1688.com is a much better than Alibaba.com when it comes to sourcing items from China. Chinese Amazon sellers, as well as other sourcing agents, don’t buy their products from Alibaba.com. Instead, they buy from 1688.com.
Let’s take a more detailed look at the benefits you might see when you buy from 1688.com.
To understand how 1688.com is accurate, let’s take a look at Alibaba.com. Many suppliers on this website mention their price ranging from $1 to $10. However, this price range is inaccurate an often sellers don’t really have anything in this price range. Plus, most of them just put up photos of certain products copied from their competitors. So, their final product is much different than what they show in their pictures.
On the other hand, most suppliers on 1688.com list real prices on their store, so you can be sure that, in most cases, you will get what you see in the pictures.
On 1688.com, many suppliers are real factories that are selling their products at wholesale prices. Consequently, you can get far better prices when you buy from 1688.com.
There are a large number of manufacturers on 1688.com because the yearly membership fee is quite low. Plus, almost all factories are experienced and can handle custom orders since they often deal with overseas orders from trade companies. There are hardly any factories that are unable to handle custom orders.
Chapter 2: Comparison between 1688.com and other Online Platforms
1688.com is not the only website in China which you can use for sourcing your items. There are many others like Alibaba, AliExpress, and DHgate. But, what is the difference between 1688.com and all the other similar online platforms? Here’s a brief look:
1688.com is a leading integrated domestic wholesale marketplace in China. Launched back in 1999, the website aims to connect the wholesale buyers and sellers in China that trade in a variety of things including beverages and food, packaging materials, shoes, electronics, furnishing materials, apparel, home decoration, and general merchandise. 1688.com is a business of the Alibaba group, and many merchants on Alibaba Group’s China retail marketplaces source the inventory and buy from 1688.com.
Alibaba.com is the leading wholesale marketplace for global trade. It was the very first business set up by the Alibaba Group and is the ideal place for trade internationally. Buyers registered with Alibaba.com are present in over 190 countries, and these are usually manufacturers, trade agents, retailers, SMEs, and wholesalers that take part in the export and import business. Alibaba.com provides its members as well as other members with various services including logistics service, trade financing, customs clearance, and import/export supply chain services.
AliExpress is also another global retail marketplace and is another business of the Alibaba group. It was launched back in 2010 and is a global retail marketplace which allows consumers from across the globe to directly buy from distributors and manufacturers present in China. AliExpress not only has a global English language website, but also operates numerous local-language sites as well such as sites in French, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. In fact, AliExpress is a top consumer market in various countries including France, Spain, the United States, Brazil, and Russia.
DHgate.com is another leading B2B (business-to-business) and B2C (business-to-consumer) e-commerce marketplace. DHgate.com, has, in fact, revolutionized online trade between China and the world. The website functions as a leading online trading platform for global buyers and Chinese sellers. The website allows buyers to purchase items in small wholesale lots. You can even order only one item too!
Made-in-China.com was founded back in 1998 and is another leading comprehensive B2B (business-to-business) e-commerce website in China. The platform is dedicated to providing high-quality Chinese products, offer information of suppliers to global buyers, and serves the worldwide trade field efficiently.
Now that we’ve gotten a brief overview of the leading online platforms in China let’s have a look at how 1688.com is different.
The primary difference between 1688.com and other websites is that 1688.com is focused exclusively on domestic trade. Meanwhile, other sites like Alibaba.com and AliExpress have focused on export since the beginning. For this reason, 1688.com is only in Chinese while other platforms are in English and also have translations in Spanish, French, as well as other major languages.
You might already know that you can easily source cheap products from both AliExrpress and Alibaba.com. For large orders, you can turn to Alibaba.com while for smaller ones, you can just simply use AliExpress. The truth is, 1688.com is even cheaper. So, most of the sellers on other platforms like Aliexpress and Alibaba just buy from 1688.com, add in their own 20-30% profit and then sell it to you. In fact, in many cases, once sellers on other platforms receive your order, they place an order on 1688.com and later ship the items over to you, thus running their business without having anything in stock. The bottom line is, compared to all other platforms, you will find the cheapest prices when you buy from 1688.com.
Moreover, 1688.com is a B2B platform; Another difference between 1688 and other platforms is that the minimum order quantity for items in 1688.com is comparatively low which means you can order items in a less quantity too.
Plus, websites that are focused on exports like Alibaba and AliExpress, the prices are mentioned in dollars while on 1688.com, the prices are only mentioned in RMBs.
Chapter 3: What Products Can you buy from 1688.com?
At 1688.com, you will find products belonging to any and all categories that you can think of. However, you might not be able to purchase all the items because of the shipping cost or the shipping limitation. For instance, if you plan on shipping your items via normal express shipping then the following products will be restricted:
- Strong magnets
- Liquids or creams
- Knives or items related to gums
- Pure batteries
Similarly, some large items can also be a problem to ship. For example, items like office chairs and wooden tables are large and have a cheap item cost. However, shipping them will cost you three to ten times more than the actual cost of the item itself. Even if you plan on shipping them via sea, the cost will be high, so the product range becomes restricted. However, if you think that you can enjoy a good profit margin in your market after considering all the costs, then you can definitely purchase them.
1688.com is a well-known website and is, in fact, the largest wholesale site in China. Currently, there are more than 50,000 legitimate sellers on the website which means you will have no difficulties in buying products you are looking for.
Products that you can easily source from 1688.com without any hassle include the following:
- Hair clips
- Women and men underwear
- Accessories for boots and shoes
- Sportswear and equipment for sports
- Children and maternal supplies and children’s toys
- Crafts, pet, and gardening items
- Daily necessities
- Office supplies
- Auto supplies
- Food and beverages
- Makeup items
- Building materials and items for home improvement and decoration
- Home textile
- 3C mobile phone appliances
- Electrical lighting instrument
- Printing papers and packaging materials
- Components for electronic security
- Mechanical hardware tools
- Rubber and plastic
- Textile leather
Chapter 4: Who Want to Source from 1688.com
1688.com is considered to be one of the premier databases of sourcing Chinese products and often provides the same products available on Alibaba, but at a lesser price.
You won’t only find products from factories and wholesalers here. In fact, you will also find suppliers that are also present on Alibaba.com. So, 1688.com is not only suitable for wholesalers. In fact, the following people can also source from here:
- Company purchases that are looking to purchase for their own companies
- Local purchase agents that take big orders from the end clients
- Solution companies that purchase from the client companies
- Offline or local shop owners
- Local offline marker resellers and wholesalers
- Online resellers or sellers that sell items on their websites or on websites like Shopify, eBay, and Amazon.
Sourcing directly from 1688.com can also be beneficial for you if you are a businessman who is looking to cut down the cost and earn more money. The website is also the ideal place to purchase items if you aim to buy and sell to your customers.
You should definitely consider purchasing from 1688.com as it provides excellent business opportunities, convenience, and information along with secure online transaction for thousands of suppliers and buyers all across the globe.
So, if you are looking for a wholesale and purchasing platform, 1688.com is the place for you. Due to its professional operations, good customer service, and comprehensive optimization of the e-commerce business model, 1688.com has become a good go-to platform. Here, you can find products from all industries mentioned above ranging from raw materials to small commodities.
Chapter 5: Difficulties and Solutions of Buying from 1688.com
Since 1688.com is designed to cater to Chinese people, there are numerous problems that one can face. Following are some problems faced by many and how you can overcome those.
Chapter 5.1: Sourcing
Since the website is in Chinese, you will face difficulties in finding and sourcing the product. You must know that when trying to source from 1688.com, you must use keywords in Chinese character. This is because English keywords will only bring up a small number of search results. For this reason, when searching for products, you must put in Chinese keywords. Chances are, you are unable to write in Chinese letters, so, you will need the translation tool.
Google’s Chrome browser has a built-in translate function which helps to translate the page from another language to your language. So, you can use that function and type in what you need. The page will translate it automatically.
However, because of the machine’s translation, in some cases, the translated text might not be completely accurate. As a result, the search results of the product turn out incorrect. In such cases, there’s no need to become frustrated or lose hope. You can just get past this problem by entering synonyms or other related words and then try searching the product again to get the product you are looking for.
Also, keep in mind, you shouldn’t use long keywords while searching as that will just increase the number of irrelevant results. Alternatively, you can also source the products by looking at the pictures. As mentioned earlier, the pictures posted by manufacturers are often genuine so you can have a good look at a particular product and its features by looking at the picture.
Perhaps, the best way to get past the problem of sourcing products is to hire a sourcing agent that will take care of all the things.
Chapter 5.2: Communication
Almost all suppliers turn to 1688.com because they wish to sell their products on the domestic market. The problem is, hardly any domestic wholesalers or manufacturers have English speaking employees operating their account on 1688.com. As a result, there is a big communication problem.
Primarily, you will have difficulty in making your way through the website as it is all in Chinese. However, you can use Google Translate and translate the page in Chinese. But when it comes to dealing with a supplier or wholesaler on 1688.com, you will face a communication problem. There are two things you can do in a situation like this.
First, if you are an adventurous person, then you can try downloading WeChat and connect with suppliers through the feature-rich app.
The app has more than 500 million Chinese users as well as over 100 million users from across the world. These numbers continue to increase at quite a phenomenal rate. It is the optimal medium to reach Asian-America or Chinese consumers. Essentially, the app is known to enhance communication. The app comes with the standard communication features such as video chat, text messaging, and free calling, making it ideal for all communication purposes.
Moreover, numerous renowned brands have set up official accounts on WeChat public so that they can communicate with their audiences via the services through the app. All in all, when using 1688.com, staying in touch with the supplier via WeChat can be quite helpful.
The second thing you can do, which also seems to be the best thing to do, is to hire a 1688.com sourcing agent that can deal with the supplier on your behalf. You can search for sourcing agents on the internet, and you will come across various options. You can then choose the one you find best.
Chapter 5.3: Payment, Warehousing, Inspection, and Shipping
It can be said that China’s financial system is still in its testing mode. It is allowed to deposit 50,000USD only to personal bank account before September, 2018. And now the policy allows only 20,000USD. And for most people who are selling on 1688.com have no idea how to operate the foreign currency in the account. And you can’t expect them to instruct you how to pay by foreign currency. Simply speaking, suppliers on 1688.com can only accept Chinese currency which is RMB or CNY.
If you wish to pay in RMB or CNY, then you can pay through apps like WeChat and AliPay, or you can pay through your account. It’s super convenient now in China that people go out without wallets. They pay everything by scanning QR code. Amazing, right? However, in order to pay via AliPay and WeChat, you first need to have a Chinese bank account. And to have a Chinese bank account, the policies differ from country to country and bank to bank.
Moreover, since 1688.com suppliers are mainly focused on the domestic market, they don’t have to apply for export licenses and work on maintaining them. Of course, the supplier can work his way around by taking the help of an export agent, but in most cases, the supplier won’t go through all the hassle of paperwork only for one customer.
For this reason, again, a buying agent will be of great help. Not only will the buying agent coordinate the shipments, but he will also manage the export procedures and manage the payments. Remember, most agents you hire will charge a commission that can range from one percent to three percent.
Other problems customers can face when trying to purchase from 1688.com are inspection and warehousing.
In many cases, the products sourced from 1688.com come in Chinese packaging. So, if you plan on buying items from 1688.com and then resell them on online platforms such as Amazon, then there will be the problem if packaging. However, if you decide to sell the items at a local shop, then the packaging is not going to be a problem. For example, there are customers bought car accessories from 1688.com and their package is in Chinese. But most of the time, they don’t change it. Only if you want to have a good brand awareness to customers. You can then consider have a better design of package and even change it into English.
Even if you plan on designing the package yourself, you can easily find suppliers that can product that same package. Plus, if you plan to take help from a buying agent, then you can also ask the buying agent company to design the package as many companies offer package designing services.
Likewise, products that are purchased from any platform or any supplier must be inspected first. If you are in another country or in another city, then taking a look at the products can be a problem. You can ask the suppliers to first send in samples, but even then, you can’t trust the supplier. For instance, in the final order, some pieces can be defective, or they can be something you didn’t ask for. Therefore, the best option you have to ensure you get what you ordered for is to hire a trusted agent that will do the inspection for you.
Furthermore, if you plan on purchasing multiple products from different suppliers on 1688.com, then you will need to collect all the items and store them in a warehouse before you can get all the items shipped to you. Since this can be hard for you to do so, particularly if you are in another country, then there are two solutions. Firstly, you can choose one supplier to be the warehouse center, and all products will be collected here before they can be shipped. Or, you can hire an agent to take care of the warehousing.
Chapter 6: Conclusion
All in all, 1688.com is a great procurement platform where you can buy items at a relatively low cost. The main issue when it comes to sourcing from 1688.com is the fact that it is China-based and most sellers only speak Chinese. Otherwise, the services provided by the website are quite good.
To get over the communication gap and not face any shipping problems, you can take help from either a Chinese friend of a 1688 sourcing agent so that you can get help in finalizing your order and paying the supplier.