How to Buy from 1688.com: The Ultimate Guide
So you’re wanting to import products from China, but you’re not sure how?
Building a business can be incredibly rewarding, especially when you have an idea and you’re ready to execute.
However, when it comes to sourcing products, most people give up.
They don’t know where to go, they don’t know how to start, and oftentimes it leads to wasted time and money.
Thankfully, there’s an easy way you can source products on 1688.com, one of the most popular Chinese product sourcing sites.
You can find a vast number of products in all shapes and sizes, with reputable vendors, and all at an affordable price.
But, before you head to the site, you’ll want to follow our guidelines to get the most out of the experience.
In this article, we’ll show you exactly how you can source products from China through 1688.
You’ll learn what the site is, how to navigate it, and how to wholesale from 1688 china, answering your most common questions.
Let’s jump right in.
Whether you’ve been in business for years, or you’re just starting out, I’m sure you’ve heard of Jack Ma.
He’s the founder of Alibaba, one of the most famous companies in the world, and also one of the biggest.
Alibaba is a group of Chinese companies, and 1688.com is a subsidiary of Alibaba located in China.
1688.com called “阿里巴巴批发 网” is mainly used in China’s domestic market as the website is primarily in Chinese.
It’s used in both business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C), as well as wholesale and manufacturing.
Most people use 1688 as an easy way to find products to source for their businesses.
since it’s very simple to find suppliers, products, and scale up your business with the platform.
What is the difference between 1688.com and Alibaba.com?
The main difference between 1688.com and Alibaba.com is that 1688 is mostly used for the domestic Chinese market while Alibaba is more focused on targeting international business trade.
In other words, 1688 is knowed as alibaba china website.1688 was made for China while Alibaba was made for the world.
The 1688.com website is in Chinese , suitable for the Chinese market. So do not have 1688 english version website now.
However, when you jump onto Alibaba, since it is an international platform, you can read it in several different languages worldwide.
It’s readable in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Thai, Turkish, Arabic, Indonesian, Hebrew, Dutch, Vietnamese and Portuguese.
Why do Chinese people like to buy products on 1688.com?
1688 has been around for many years, and it is very well-known in China.
It’s currently the biggest wholesale website available in China.
It’s one of the most trusted wholesale brands in China and has developed a powerful reputation over the years as Alibaba has grown as a business giant.
Chinese people also like to buy from 1688 in bulk since the products are priced so low. A variety of trading businesses also like to purchase from 1688 to then resell them around the world.
At the moment, there are over 50,000 sellers on 1688.com, making it possible to find any kind of product and build a relationship with incredible suppliers.
Are the products listed on 1688.com cheaper?
It’s very common for Chinese suppliers to sell their items to Chinese buyers at lower prices.
The main reason isn’t that they’re trying to scam their compatriots. It’s because there are often underlying quality issues.
Chinese suppliers generally understand that they aren’t able to offer worldwide buyers the same level of quality in products that they are offering to their domestic customers.
When selling to European, Australian, or American buyers, Chinese suppliers recognize they need to be able to offer higher quality products, so they will usually quote higher prices overall.
However, shopping on 1688.com doesn’t mean you will automatically get lower prices rather than Alibaba.
It’s not wise to make an assumption that you’ll save on wholesale prices as this isn’t always true.
What do you need to consider before buying from 1688.com?
Stock information isn’t always accurate
When you place an order, You have to first confirm with the seller if the product you are wanting to buy is actually in stock.
Most of the time, stock information is about 90% accurate, so you won’t have to worry.
However, there are certain sellers who sell extremely high volumes of products (especially when they are very low priced) and keep their listing as “in stock” even though they run out.
In order to avoid issues where you’re buying something that’s already out of stock, make sure you pick the right supplier.
Remember to always purchase from a supplier that has bullhead beside the name. This means that the store is certified by Alibaba Group, making it much more credible and trustworthy.
Purchase Failures & Invalid Orders
If, when you place an order, you run into a purchase failure, 1688 website will notify you that your order is out of stock and you will not be able to add product to shopping cart.
This process is a bit different than Amazon.com or Tmall.com retail inventory.
Since 1688 is wholesale, the system will account for stock issues and continue the purchase, unlike retail websites.
If you keep getting “invalid”, simply search for another supplier and send a brand new order for a similar product.
This usually isn’t a major issue for 1688 buyers since there are over 50,000 vendors to choose from on the site.
One thing you do need to keep in mind, however, is that it can take a couple of days for users to cancel orders after experiencing a 1688 purchase failure.
If you want a refund from the supplier, it can’t be done instantly, and you will have to wait until your money is first refunded to 1688 before being credited back to you.
You won’t have to worry about losing your money as each deal is secured and protected by 1688.
In the meantime, you can continue submitting new orders to new suppliers for any order that has been canceled.
The entire refund process will be tracked and recorded by 1688 for your protection.
Domestic Shipping Cost Adjustment
Domestic shipping is when the provider simply ships products to the Panda warehouse. 1688.com will usual adjust domestic transport costs for wholesale orders, which is dependent upon the final weight of each shipment.
For every order on 1688.com, We will automatically complete any domestic shipping with a default amount (15CNY) as its minimum domestic shipping cost (DSC).
This happens since we doesn’t have a full picture of the final domestic shipping or the complete weight details of the shipment when the order is placed.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean the 15CNY is the completed national shipment.
1688 buyers still have to manually confirm the final national shipping when they place their orders to 1688 suppliers. This happens after you have filled out your first payment instructions.
Once the domestic shipping cost (DSC) is confirmed to go beyond 15 CNY, The Panda purchaser will correct the real cost by deducting the difference from the balance for you.
They will also notify you, to let you know that the domestic shipping cost has been corrected and that a charge was put on your account history.
If you want to get a better picture to assess the accurate completed price, you can get a rough estimate of your price of your estimated shipping weight by adding in about 8-15CNY per kilogram national shipping.
Generally speaking, the cost and detailed completed price depend on the supplier’s shipping partner.
You usually don’t ever have to worry about any added national shipping unless you are purchasing products that are too heavy or too big in size.
Don’t buy products that are too heavy or too big in size
One of the biggest downsides to making a purchase on 1688 is that you will be penalized in costs by buying products that are either too heavy or too big in size.
If you want to buy very large products like large TVs, sectional couches, or bicycles, you will need to factor in the elevated national shipping charges and global shipping costs.
It isn’t ever recommended to buy such large products unless you also have a low-cost forwarder that you’re working with.
Delays and Timing
Since 1688 is a wholesale site, it’s not going to be as accurate in terms of timing from other retail sites like Tmall.com or Amazon.com. Orders won’t always be on schedule.
Generally speaking, wholesale orders need a bigger lead time, which means that the products won’t always be shipped out right away.
Most order lead times, on average, can span between 1 and 5 days.
A small number of orders can take 5-7 to process.
But it’s important to note that some orders can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 1 month to complete.
During busy seasons like November and December, lead times can be delayed by 1 to 3 days overall.
Plus, it could potentially take up to 3-5 more days for domestic shipping. It often takes over 7 days for products to arrive at the Panda warehouse once an order has been placed.
Remember to plan your buying times by considering both the lead times during the slower seasons and busy seasons to avoid any time crunch issues with your customers.
If you find out that your order has stayed on “Ordered” status (which means that the order has already been placed to providers on 1688.com), you can send the buyer an email to cancel the order.
If the supplier hasn’t yet shipped your order, 1688’s buyer can help you cancel the order.
If your order has already been shipped out, you shouldn’t cancel it. If you do, you may be penalized and charged, resulting in losses from the terms of services for canceling the order.
Since most 1688.com orders take over a week to complete, Panda allows you to store your products for free at their warehouse for up to 3 months, which is usually plenty of time for most orders.
However, rather than keeping your products in the Panda warehouse for too long, 1688.com recommends that you ship your products as soon as possible once they all arrive.
If you do run into a scenario where you have to keep your products in the Panda warehouse for longer than 3 months, you will be charged 5 percent of the value of the product as storage fees.
A few tips when you buy from 1688 in bulk
1. Check Threshold First
Before you place your order, make sure to check the wholesale rules and threshold for the supplier.
If your order quantity doesn’t’ meet or exceed the minimum order amount set in place by the supplier, your order will be canceled and you will need to place a new order.
2. Always pick a “TrustPass” Supplier
With over 50,000 suppliers, 1688 has plenty to choose from, but that doesn’t mean they’re all good sellers. Make sure you choose suppliers who have the “TrustPass” badge on their account.
They are usually more trustworthy, reliable, and have better quality products. They also usually have a better return policy.
3. Compare suppliers
If you find a good supplier, they have a trust badge, and you can meet the minimum order requirement, don’t place your order just yet.
You should always compare them with other suppliers.
Look for the best deal, or for a better supplier. You might be surprised to find a more trustworthy supplier or someone who has better quality or prices.
Do suppliers on 1688.com speak English?
Unlike Alibaba, most suppliers on 1688.com don’t speak English fluently. However, there are ways to get around this.
You will need to contact more suppliers before you find ones who do speak English.
You can also use Google Translate to communicate with your suppliers.
There is also a way to translate the website to English which we’ll cover below.
How can I communicate with 1688.com suppliers?
Since most 1688 suppliers are Chinese, it won’t be easy to communicate if you don’t know the language.
Your best option is to use a China sourcing agent who can speak on your behalf, acting as your translator and will sometimes even offer you basic Chinese lessons so you can order from businesses directly.
It’s always best to use china sourcing agent to help you with the translation barrier so you can source products efficiently.
This will save you time, and help you avoid a world of frustration on both your end and on the supplier’s end.
How can I pay 1688 suppliers?
There are a variety of payment methods you can use to pay 1688.com suppliers. You should use the one that works best for you. Here are the different types of payment methods available:
- Through AliPay
- Through Wechat
- Through your personal bank account
- Through your company bank account
Can I pay 1688.com suppliers in US dollars?
It’s important to note that suppliers do not accept the US dollar. They only accept Renminbi (RMB or CNY).
If you want to pay in US dollars, you will need to use a sourcing agent, We recommed Panda as best china sourcing agent.
Sourcing agents can accept payments in US dollars. They can accept payment in USD and then pay the supplier in Renminbi (RMB) directly. Sourcing agents can also accept bank transfers and PayPal.
Do I need an Export License for 1688.com?
Before a Chinese product can ship a product overseas, a business must have an export permit.
The permit can be ordered and is valid for many years. Bigger 1688 providers will function both domestically in China as well as internationally with export permits.
Any vendors on 1688 who are only selling domestically won’t need to obtain an export permit.
However, if they want to sell internationally, there is a way to get the export license.
1688 sellers can use export agents. Sourcing agents will also act as export agents, allowing you to purchase from a 1688 seller, even if they don’t have an export license.
The sourcing agent is able to do all documentation to coordinate shipments, complete the export, and manage payments.
How do I know if 1688.com suppliers are real or scammers?
Contrary to some beliefs, every 1688 supplier is a real, legitimate business.
This is verified since any supplier selling products on 1688 must have a confirmed government business license to create an account.
How can I check a supplier’s information?
If you want to verify a supplier and check their information, you just have to go to their store on 1688:
- Open up the home page of the vendor.
- Click “Company”.
- Click “View Business Registration Information”.
- View all information regarding the seller’s business registration.
You can see their date of registration, registered capital, incorporation, and company address.
How do I find a 1688.com sourcing agent for my products?
It’s not always easy to find a reputable sourcing agent to partner with. You need to make sure they are equipped to handle your specific needs.
You need to also make sure they’re a trusted brand with testimonials, and able to meet your demands as you scale.
Our purchasing agent with over a decade of experience will find the right manufacturer, and within 2 days, find you the best deal possible.
You will receive custom-branding services like ODM, OEM, packaging design, and more.
We’ll also help you with quality control, photography, and factory inspection.
Plus, if you aren’t happy with our service, we’ll give you a full refund. We offer a 120-day money-back guarantee to ensure you’re happy with our sourcing services.
Does 1688 have an app?
Yes, 1688 does have an app but you won’t find it on the Google Play Store.
You can find it by going to 1688.com on your smartphone.
Scroll down to the bottom of the home page. Click on “App” to download.
You can also visit 3g.1688.com .Use your smartphone to scan the barcode and download the app.
If do not have 1688 app, you can use mobile browser app to visit m.1688.com
How can I complete a picture search on 1688?
If you’re comparing suppliers and want to search by the product by image, it can help you save a ton of time.
Here are the steps to complete a picture search on 1688:
- The image has a white background
- There isn’t a duplicate image of the image you are searching for on the page you are searching on.
- Save the image.
- Go to 1688 and click on the camera icon beside the search bar.
- Click the file name of the image you saved.
Keep in mind that this only works on the desktop version of 1688, not the mobile or app versions
How do I translate 1688.com website to English?
- Download Google Chrome
- Go to 1688.com
- Right-click on a blank space on the page.
- Select “Translate to English” from the options displayed.
- The page will refresh and appear in English.
While it is quite simple to translate 1688 to English on the website, the 1688 app makes it very difficult, so you will have to perform a few steps and get 1688.com english version.
On the App:
- Install both the 1688 app and Google Translate app on your Android device.
- Open the 1688 app. Search for the item you want (you can still search in English).
- Scroll down to see the seller’s information.
- Screenshot the portion of the page you wish to translate.
- Open Google Translate
- Click the camera icon and import the screenshot.
- Google translate will scan the photo.
- You can highlight a Chinese character to translate or select the entire image to translate.
- Tap the right arrow icon to see the translation
If you’re wanting to start or expand your online business, then 1688.com is one of the greatest options available.
As a subsidiary of Alibaba focused on the Chinese market, they offer an incredible range of products at very low prices.
However, if you’re located outside China, it can be complicated trying to tap into the 1688 market without the right knowledge, and without knowing how to communicate in Chinese.
If you want to buy from 1688 china in bulk, but you want to skip the frustration of handling the Chinese language, the export complications, or the website, your best option is to find a trusted 1688 sourcing agent, like Panda.
At Panda, we will partner with you to help you navigate the complex, yet profitable world of Chinese suppliers.
We will guide you every step of the way from contacting suppliers to negotiating better deals, to branding, and FBA solutions to ensure your business takes off easily and is profitable from the start.