How to Buy Products From 1688.com: A Complete Guide

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1688.com is just like Alibaba.com, but all in Chinese, and for the domestic market in China.

Some believe that they can find better deals, by going directly to suppliers on 1688.com, instead of Alibaba.com.

But is that really true?

Keep reading, and learn if 1688.com suppliers are really offering lower prices, how to pay them and if they even have export licenses.

What is 1688.com?

1688.com is a B2B supplier directory owned by Alibaba Group. Just like Alibaba.com, 1688.com is portal were you can find factories, wholesalers and trading companies, in virtually any industry.

So why is it called 1688.com, and not Alibaba.cn? In Chinese, 1688 reads as “Yao Liu Ba Ba”, which (kind of) sounds like Alibaba.

Substituting words for similar sounding numbers is common in China and all over Asia.

What is the difference between 1688.com and Alibaba.com?

The difference between the two is that 1688.com is exclusively for domestic trade. Alibaba.com has been export focused since day 1.

This is why 1688.com is in Chinese, while Alibaba.com is in English, and has translations in French, Spanish and other major languages.

Are 1688.com for wholesalers or factories?

Both. 1688.com is not limited to wholesalers or factories. Instead, you can find the same types of suppliers here, as you find on Alibaba.com.

Many suppliers actually have company pages on both Alibaba.com and 1688.com.

One for international buyers, and one for domestic ones.

Can I find cheaper products on 1688.com?

Many importers believe that Chinese suppliers offer lower prices to domestic buyers. This is often true, but not for the reasons you might think.

Suppliers tend to quote higher prices to European and American customers, for quality reasons.

Chinese suppliers know they can’t sell the same quality overseas, as they can to some local customers.

If you submit the same product specification to suppliers on Alibaba.com, as you do on 1688.com, you will not necessarily be quoted a higher price on the former.

As such, you should not assume that you’ll get lower quotes from 1688.com suppliers.

How do I communicate with the suppliers?

Suppliers go to 1688.com because they want to sell products on the domestic market. Domestic manufacturers and wholesalers rarely have English speaking employees operating their 1688 account.

If you want to contact 1688 suppliers, you either need an agent, or learn mandarin.

Alibaba.com suppliers, on the other hand, almost always have English speaking sales reps operating their accounts.

That’s kind of the whole point with Alibaba.com.

How do I pay suppliers?

One can say that China’s financial system is still in ‘Beta mode’. The standard company bank account in China is only for holding the local currency, Renminbi (RMB).

RMB accounts can receive USD, but this makes it count as a ‘domestic transaction’. Hence, no export rebate, which can deduct 17% to the factory price.

Instead, export focused companies need to open a separate bank account for receiving US dollars. This is the bank account you pay when sending money to your supplier.

But what if the supplier never exported products before?

If so, they likely don’t even have a USD bank account, and can therefore not receive USD.

Do 1688.com listed suppliers have export licenses?

In China, a company must obtain an export license before they can ship goods overseas. The license is not obtained on an order to order basis, but is valid for several years.

Many suppliers, especially the larger ones, tend to operate both on the domestic market in China, and export to other countries. These suppliers, naturally, have export licenses.

However, these suppliers also tend to be listed on Alibaba.com.

1688.com suppliers that are only focused on the domestic market don’t have the need to apply for, and maintain, export licenses.

There are ways to go around the need for an export license.

For example, the 1688 supplier can use an export agent. But I doubt that many ‘domestic suppliers’ are willing to bother with all the extra paperwork for one customer.

Are there 1688.com buying agents?

If you really want to buy products from 1688, there’s help to get.

There are several ‘1688.com buying agents’ that can help you with the following:

  • Coordinate shipments
  • Manage payments (from USD to RMB)
  • Manage export procedures

Most charge a commission, ranging from 1 to 3%.

However, keep in mind that you should follow up with quality inspections, and make sure you don’t pay everything upfront.

Conclusion

Many Importers are under the impressions that 1688.com suppliers offer lower prices than everyone else.

And sometimes they do, but not for the same quality.

Further, 1688.com suppliers are rarely ‘export ready. Without a USD bank account and an export license, the products will not leave the country.

There are workarounds, but most ‘local suppliers’ don’t want to bother with that.

So, if it’s not cheaper and so much more hassle, why go to 1688.com?

There are very few scenarios I think of when 1688.com makes sense for importers outside of China. Perhaps if you need to source certain materials and components for your export supplier, but that’s about it.

Luckily, there is Alibaba.com, and other supplier directories, for exporting manufacturers.

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    46 Responses to “How to Buy Products From 1688.com: A Complete Guide”

    1. filip May 17, 2018 at 6:24 pm #

      how ot benefit from 17% vat deduction ? I sent you email please reply

      • Fredrik Gronkvist May 20, 2018 at 10:13 am #

        Hi Filip,

        You benefit as long as you buy from a supplier with an export license

        Export prices don’t include the VAT, which is the case for domestic transactions.

        However, you cannot receive this money as an Importer, from the Chinese government. It doesn’t work like that.

        • Mickey August 13, 2018 at 12:05 am #

          Hi, I need services for Ali baba. Can you please send me your contact details

          • Thabang Lesetsa October 16, 2018 at 7:38 pm #

            I interested to buy stock from china wat im suppose todo cz im in south africa

    2. Kareem Afeez June 9, 2018 at 11:46 pm #

      Hi,I am from Nigeria and I would Love to import from 1688.com..can u help in buying from 1688.com and ship to my Nigeria?

    3. Victory June 12, 2018 at 8:44 am #

      Hi, how can i contact 1688.com agent? i want to buy from 1688.com so he can help to ship to Nigeria.

      • Emil June 28, 2018 at 4:59 pm #

        Hi i can help you

        • Rudo Gonda June 30, 2018 at 1:42 pm #

          Emil I would like to purchase,1688.com how do i go about it

        • qween June 30, 2018 at 9:19 pm #

          hello… emil, i am also interested. kindly drop your email address, so we discuss please.

        • stan July 6, 2018 at 10:17 am #

          hi, i need help too. please contact me

        • Pathie August 10, 2018 at 8:10 am #

          Emil can you please drop your contact so that we can chat? Also in need of an agent.

        • luchy August 20, 2018 at 4:55 pm #

          hello Emil, please drop your contact

      • Marion January 2, 2019 at 8:44 pm #

        I need a buying agent too. I already have the app and can use it. Problem is making payments

    4. emmanuel s.g July 2, 2018 at 8:50 pm #

      i want to buy and import product from 1688.co
      pls how can u assist me
      i need an assistant for quality product

    5. Verdial July 10, 2018 at 9:21 am #

      Hi Alibaba express… I’m interesting in your product, but I was woried about Quality. Becouse in my country we have a lot of investor from china they were selled the same goods as alibaba selling but quality are low. Thanks.

    6. Uzoma July 10, 2018 at 11:53 am #

      Hi I’d like to import from 1688 to Nigeria

    7. Leon July 15, 2018 at 6:44 am #

      I can help you to buy it from 1688.com

      • David July 23, 2018 at 3:26 pm #

        Lyon,could you please drop your email address for discussion?

      • Anne October 23, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

        Good day Leon . please send me your email address I need help on how to buy from 1688.com

    8. babalola mahmood July 22, 2018 at 9:46 am #

      hello Fredrik, thanks for the clarification in the write-up, Can you help me get an agent who can help me in getting those transactions and shipping done?, or if you can, it will be a blessing.
      Thanks
      Email:- babalolamahmood20@gmail.com

    9. Henry July 23, 2018 at 10:41 am #

      can 1688 agent help me buy something from alibaba

    10. bonani July 23, 2018 at 10:58 am #

      I ORDERED sme goods with other compy i paid every thing and was told i will recive my goods in 5 days its more than a month they gave me wrong tracking nmber

    11. Daniel August 25, 2018 at 12:50 am #

      Can someone help me with the method of payment on 1688 via wechat.
      Thanks

    12. Somto August 31, 2018 at 6:20 am #

      Thank you so much. I will contact you.

    13. SalimSojay September 5, 2018 at 6:35 pm #

      Please be careful when dealing with anyone that claim to be agent of 1688
      Simply buy your bulk products from Alibaba & units from Aliexpress and pay with your Credit/Debit card then it will be shipped to your country (Nigeria or anywhere)
      If you’ll use an agent, ensure it’s a verified one

    14. chief bala September 10, 2018 at 9:44 am #

      i need an agent to help ship my items to my country

    15. Araba September 17, 2018 at 4:28 pm #

      Hello, how can i check out the quality of products when buying from 1688.com or Alibaba.com.
      Any tips to look out for?

      • Ivan Malloci September 18, 2018 at 2:43 am #

        Hello Araba,

        what do you mean for “quality”? If you just want to check, for instance, the consistence of a textile, the best way is to get a sample. However, if you mean that the product comply with regulation in your country, etc, then the procedure would be quite different

      • Sadiq October 9, 2018 at 7:17 pm #

        Your agent will help you with quality assurance if you ask him give him the specification.

    16. Daniel September 22, 2018 at 12:38 pm #

      Hy,
      I’m trying to purchase things but I’m having problems with my region and I’m trying to import to Nigeria.. Nigeria isn’t showing in the region section

    17. Tj September 25, 2018 at 9:43 pm #

      Needs good agent to do business with please drop your email address,phone number for proper reaching out

    18. Kingsley October 3, 2018 at 12:51 pm #

      You’ve got one. What will you like to know or do Isichei Foster

    19. Juliana October 23, 2018 at 2:16 pm #

      1688.com is a good site to buy from,I get all my goods from there and get it shipped down to me here in Nigeria (Lagos). If you need any help just let me know. It’s quite easy if u follow the procedures well. Mini importations help our youth these days

      • Owhonda Simon N. November 4, 2018 at 9:45 pm #

        Juliana, please can you give me your Agent’s number so that he can help me get goods from China

      • Milan November 14, 2018 at 5:51 am #

        Hi Julia, I’m interested

      • Amaka Doris November 15, 2018 at 1:24 am #

        Hi, plz I need help. Can you teach me how to import from 1688.com?

      • Ojbiz December 7, 2018 at 9:05 pm #

        Can I get your agents details

    20. Victor October 24, 2018 at 11:11 pm #

      Please I need an agent or someone to be supplying me goods from China on 1688.com

    21. mary December 30, 2018 at 5:53 am #

      Hi! Am interested in getting goods from 1688.com. Please, I need an agent contact to know how is been down..shipping in to Nigeria

    22. Ruth Oyeleke January 16, 2019 at 10:09 pm #

      Hello, please I want to buy some goods from 1688.com, how do I go about getting it. Pls reply. Thanks

    23. Pascal Lawrence January 18, 2019 at 10:22 pm #

      Please reach me via my mail so we can talk. Am interested

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