1688.com is a leading online B2B supplier directory in China.
It is a subsidiary of Alibaba in China and has over 50,000 companies and 120 million users.
If you’re experiencing challenges procuring items from 1688.com, you are at the right place.
This guide helps you to understand and enhance efficiency when buying goods from the platform.
- Differences between 1688 and Alibaba
- History of 1688
- How to Find Suppliers and Factories on 1688
- How to Buy from 1688 Successfully
- Common Problems when Buying from 1688
- Benefits of Buying from 1688
- How to Work with 1688 Agent
- Products you can Buy from 1688.com
- Translating the 1688.com Website from Chinese to English
- How to Navigate 1688.com Website for Foreign Importers
- Step-to-step to Verifying Authenticity of 1688 Suppliers
- How to Communicate with Suppliers on 1688 Suppliers
- Knowing MOQ when Importing from 1688.com
- How to Pay for Goods on 1688.com
- Verifying Quality of Goods on 1688.com
- How to Ship from 1688
- Ways to avoid Scam when Buying from 1688
Differences between 1688 and Alibaba
Ideally, 1688 is a sister website to Alibaba. However, there are few differences between the two, which include the following;
1688 is exclusively for domestic trade.
It is designed to allow the Chinese nationals to order goods and products from suppliers herein.
In contrast, Alibaba is designed for both domestic and export business.
Its principal focus is on exports, but you can as well use it for domestic purposes.
The coding language for 1688 is Chinese.
It is a clear indication of the reason the target market is domestic trade.
On the other hand, Alibaba is coded in English but has translations in numerous languages.
Some of the major translations include French, Russian, Italian, and Spanish, among others.
1688 consists of local suppliers, majorly from mainland China.
Only a few international suppliers from neighboring countries are starting to make a move into this platform.
Alibaba majorly deals with both multinational Chinese suppliers and other international sellers for export trade.
The quality of products in 1688 is relatively inferior to those on Alibaba.
You can find both low and high quality of 1688, and the cost is usually affordable.
On Alibaba, the quality is top-notch since the products must conform to various standards set by different international agencies.
The price of goods on Alibaba is comparatively high than on 1688.
History of 1688
1688 is a subsidiary of Alibaba. It was designed to cater for the local trade in mainland China specifically.
The name 1688 is derived from the Chinese words”Yao Liu Ba Ba”, which almost sounds like Alibaba.
The essence was to find an online platform allowing Chinese internationals to solely sell and buy from domestically.
Since its inception, 1688 has grown significantly and currently has over 50,000 companies and 120 million users.
How to Find Suppliers and Factories on 1688
Essentially, 1688 is a platform, which allows for as many factories and wholesalers as possible.
Therefore, there is a likelihood of finding a wide range of suppliers and companies.
For most Chinese domestic traders and buyers, it is quite easy to find relevant suppliers and factories on this platform.
However, for other international unfamiliar with Chinese language, it can be quite a daunting task.
Nonetheless, you can use several interventions to find your ideal supplier and manufacturer on this platform.
Some of the means you can consider include the following;
· Using a Sourcing Agent
It is arguably the best method for a non-Chinese international to utilize.
1688 is all-Chinese, thus requires a local sourcing firm or individual to carry out this task.
These agents understand various aspects surrounding selecting ideal suppliers and factories on this platform.
Moreover, a Chinese sourcing agent can read this language, thus making it easy to determine the appropriate one for your demands.
Even so, you must confirm you are seeking the services of a reliable and reputable sourcing agent.
Some may capitalize on the situation to scam you in various aspects.
If need be, you may want to consider Bansar.
It is a leading and reputable agent in China for all 1688 product sourcing solutions.
Using a sourcing agent for this task is vital since it enables you to save time.
It is also efficient and convenient, given you’ll not undergo the daunting process of looking for these entities.
· Searching from the Platform Yourself
It is another practical option you may want to consider when looking for suitable suppliers and factories on 1688.
The process involves signing up on the platform using the required credentials.
Upon logging in, you’ll be able to search for all the relevant companies offering the products you’re looking for.
Upon creating an account, you can always maneuver the website and find all the necessary information aboutthe companies you’re seeking.
This method is ideal since it allows you to find as many entities of your choice as possible.
In essence, it gives you the freedom to select your preferable merchant based on different aspects.
However, it is relatively overwhelming, especially if you are a newbie.
You also need to understand Chinese, which is the only language used on this platform.
Ultimately, it can be time-consuming since the platform has over 50,000 entities.
Therefore, for efficiency, you have to be familiar and grasp the language.
Alternatively, you can translate Chinese language used on the platform into English.
Still, the process can be tasking if you don’t understand the dynamics of this portal.
How to Buy from 1688 Successfully
Buying from 1688 is not as daunting as it may seem to be, especially if you are familiar with Chinese language.
If you understand the changing aspects of this portal, it also becomes easy to shop from it.
However, the entire experience is a process, which requires meticulousness.
Some of the imperative steps in purchasing from 1688 include the following;
Sign up to Create Account
This process entails using your credentials to create a 1688 account.
Once your credentials are verified, you’ll be able to log in and access the portal.
· Choose a Product
Determine the product you are looking for on this platform.
There is a search bar you can always use to look and choose a particular item you require.
· Choose a Supplier
Once you find the product, start looking for the ideal supplier for the same.
There are over 50,000 suppliers, wholesalers, and companies on this platform.
This can, at some point, make it a bit difficult to sieve and select the best one.
Nevertheless, certify you have the right information about the particular company you are choosing.
It helps in determining the right company to trade with from this platform.
· Place the Order
After picking the specific products from the suppliers, place your order.
Your order should entail the correct details for the order, including description and quantity.
· Make the Payment
The merchant will generate a quotation for the order you have placed.
Consequently, you’ll be able to know the specific amount of money you ought to pay for the same.
You will also get the payment details of the merchant, such as bank account and number, among others.
This, however, is dependent on the mode of payment the two parties agree on.
· Quality Check
It entails verification of the products to make sure they meet the required quality standards.
The items must always be consistent with 1688 product listing description.
Shipping merely involves transporting the items from the vendor to the customer or buyer.
Shipping, in many instances, depends on the preferred mode.
It could be air freight, sea freight, trucking or rail freight.
The choice also depends on the urgency of the item, size, and quantity.
The shipping process and duration usually vary from one carrier to another.
However, as a foreign importer, you may as well choose to buy products on 1688 through sourcing agents.
This is a better option, especially if you do not have a verified Alipay account.
Find a reliable and reputable agent and provide them with the links of products you intend to buy.
The charges may vary depending on the agent. Some would charge per link or the general service they provide.
Common Problems when Buying from 1688
When buying from 1688, you should anticipate a few challenges surrounding the process and the experience at large.
Some of the typical problems you are likely to face include the following;
1) Payment Issues
Most of the domestic suppliers and manufacturers are accustomed to domestic payment methods.
Some of these methods include cash, WeChat, Alipay, and local bank transfers.
Thus for overseas importers, it can be quite challenging to find Chinese suppliers receiving money in a different currency.
In essence, it makes it difficult to use domestic payment for international purchases.
2) Lack of English Support
It is difficult to find a sales representative on 1688 who can speak even basic English.
If you hardly understand Chinese language, you’ll need to seek assistance from native speakers.
And this can be challenging since you are never certain of whether or not there is genuinity.
Moreover, it will be an added cost, which can affect your budget.
3) Product Quality Variance
Most vendors on 1688 do not necessarily take the essence of high quality into account.
They can sell a product of any quality, whether good or poor, since the standards herein are not strict.
You can thus end up with poor quality after spending a lot of time and a significant amount of money.
4) Inconsistent INCOTERMS
Buying goods from 1688 exposes you to various risks and unforeseen obstacles.
The incoterms, as well as international formalities, are inconsistent and unknown.
5) Missing Export Licenses
Since most of the companies on this platform are accustomed to domestic customers, they rarely seek export licenses.
As an importer, this can be challenging, especially if you’re ordering a large quantity.
Most sellers would deliberately fail to hassle for an export license when the order is relatively small.
Benefits of Buying from 1688
The advantages of purchasing from 1688 include the following;
· Affordable Rates
The cost of the products on 1688 is relatively affordable.
On average, it becomes cheaper to find a particular item per-piece on this platform.
Most of the sellers on 1688 target local users, thus making it possible for the price to be a bit cheaper.
Even so, you need to consider the quality of the product, depending on the amount you’re spending.
· Faster Responses
1688 uses several tools, which the clients can use to get the relevant service.
It has a top-notch mobile app, which is quite effective.
Most suppliers have staff members who will always respond to any queries raised within a few seconds.
However, the responses are 99% in Chinese.
It thus can be advantageous if you’re dealing with a domestic sourcing agent like Bansar.
6) Variety of Quality
The design for 1688 is to accommodate and promote local manufacturing.
Most manufacturers, therefore, tend to sell a variety of products on this portal.
In the long run, it enables you to sample a wide range of quality products depending on your budget.
And this is essential since it means you can always obtain the right quality, which meets your demands.
7) Ideal for Sub-suppliers and Complex Projects
It is a great option for anyone managing complex sourcing operations.
This is particularly if the operation involves numerous sub-suppliers who send semi-finished items to the same assembly.
When dealing with 1688, the likelihood of most issues tends to diffuse.
The sellers understand ways of circumventing potential issues.
8) Variety of Suppliers
The portal is designed for domestic trade.
Therefore, you can be able to find decent wholesalers, who your competitors cannot necessarily access.
Some of these suppliers often opt to remain somewhat inactive on this platform for several reasons.
In some instances, they could be missing export licenses or have enough business in the mainland.
You may land on such wholesalers and get the best deals and high-quality products than you can ever imagine.
9) Low MOQ
You can order any quantity of your preferred item from this platform.
Most suppliers here do not have stringent measures when it comes to MOQ.
How to Work with 1688 Agent
First is to ensure you are working with a credentialed 1688.com agent.
You can use several ways to confirm certification of the agent before seeking their services.
You have to sign a contract regarding the terms and conditions surrounding the service the agent provides.
The contract is essential since it acts as a back-up document in case of litigation issues.
So you’ll identify all the products you need from 1688.com.
Alternatively, you can let the agent do this upon providing the necessary description, quality, and quantity of the items you need.
It is the responsibility of the agent to source for the items from all the suitable suppliers selling the same.
The agent negotiates places to confirm the samples for quality and places the order.
You can make payment to the agent’s account or still decide to pay directly to the manufacturer or supplier.
At the same time, he makes follow up to confirm each detail of the process is conformed to.
Upon obtaining the goods and verifying the quality, they organize for shipping to your destination.
All this time, the agent is always in contact with you to update the progress of every bit in the process.
Once the goods leave, you’ll wait for delivery at your store or port of destination depending on mode of transport.
Products you can Buy from 1688.com
Products in 1688
You can find all types of products manufactured in China or even abroad.
These products can range from apparel, furniture, jewelry, machines, tools, and equipment, among others.
You can as well find kitchenware, home improvement items, construction materials, electronics, mobile phones, and numerous gadgets, among others.
Ideally, you can find almost all the products you are looking for from this portal. Most of these goods are manufactured locally.
However, you can as well find items, which are imported from foreign countries.
Some suppliers usually order for products from abroad and store them in their warehouses.
Translating the 1688.com Website from Chinese to English
For international importer, it is always advisable to make certain you understand the communication therein.
And since 1688 is coded in Chinese, it becomes ideal to ensure you translate it to English.
The translation process is quite straightforward.
You only need to understand a few tricks to guarantee you do it effortlessly.
While at it, it is recommended to use Google chrome as the ideal web browser when accessing the 1688 website.
This browser can translate the webpage content into English or your preferred language directly.
The process starts with loading the 1688 webpage on the browser.
Look for the option to translate the language and choose the “translate to English” button.
All the information on the website will change into English apart from the images.
Even so, the English may not be as perfect as you’d expect, but it is readable.
How to Navigate 1688.com Website for Foreign Importers
Foreign importers will typically encounter communication challenges when accessing the 1688 website.
Navigating through this website can be tricky since it contains a lot of information.
You need to be familiar with many aspects of this portal to successfully procure different items effectively.
As a foreign importer, the first thing to do is ensuring you translate the default Chinese language into your preferred language.
Translation to English is usually more effective than other languages.
You’ll type the webpage link on the browser to lead you to the homepage.
At the home page, there’s a search dialog box where you need to type specific elements you are looking for.
If you need to get suppliers, you’ll search, and it will take you to the respective directory.
It is the same thing you also need to do with products.
The website is user-friendly since it has all the relevant buttons and icons, which direct you to the ideal action.
Step-to-step to Verifying Authenticity of 1688 Suppliers
1688 has over 50,000 companies, suppliers, and trading entities.
You cannot, therefore, pick any of these and consider it for business.
You must do specific and thorough due diligence to certify you get the right supplier to deal with.
It is a process but worthwhile to undertake.
Here are the step-to-step process of verifying the authenticity of suppliers you come across on 1688;
Open the vendor’s homepage – Ideally, you ought to access this website from a web browser particularly, Google chrome.
It is the first step you need to undertake since it allows you to access all the information you need.
Search for the supplier – You’ll then look for the particularly preferred supplier on the search bar of 1688 webpage. It is the first way of filtering the information since there are tons of suppliers offering similar products.
Click on company profile –There is a button on the vendor’s homepage, which allows you to find all the relevant details of your preferred supplier.
You will see all the relevant information displayed on the window.
It highlights the specialties of the company, history, and whether or not it is approved.
Check on business registration information – Still, at the profile of the supplier, there is a link to confirm other details surrounding its registration.
You’ll be able to see the company name, registered capital, unified social credit code, and registration authority.
Additionally, you’ll see its operating period, business scope, address, establishment date, type of enterprise, and approval logo.
It is also recommended that you go through the policies of the website.
Understand what the policies entail regarding returns, backorders, and damages, among others.
The contact information, as well as the physical address, must as well be available on their website.
Authenticity verification of suppliers on 1688 is fundamental.
It prevents incidents of scam and enhances trust between the two parties.
It also guarantees that as a buyer, you are dealing with reliable, credentialed, and reputable suppliers.
How to Communicate with Suppliers on 1688 Suppliers
Communication in any form of business is a key element of enhancing efficiency.
Many suppliers opt for 1688 since there desire is to sell their products on the domestic market.
Ideally, most of the local manufacturers and wholesalers rarely have employees who can speak or write English to manage their accounts on 1688.
And this makes it difficult to communicate effectively during the procurement process.
You can choose three options to communicate with suppliers on this platform.
The first choice would be to take basic Chinese language lessons to enable you to order from the business directly.
This option, however, can be time-consuming and unsuitable, where urgency is a concern.
It can also be a bit costly since you’ll have to pay for the lessons.
The other option you may choose to consider is hiring a translator.
A translator will link you with the supplier, especially during the procuring process.
This method is only ideal if you get a reliable and reputable translator.
A translator may as well be another costly option since you’ll need to pay for these services.
The best option nevertheless is to find a local procurement agent to assist you in communicating with suppliers.
An agent will handle all aspects of communication with particular suppliers to make sure they obtain the right products.
In this case, a local-based sourcing agent such as Bansar would be a relatively cheaper option.
In essence, the communication between the two parties will be effective and faster.
They understand one another hence making it easy for procuring and sending the items to your address.
Knowing MOQ when Importing from 1688.com
When procuring items from 1688, it is always essential to know the MOQ.
This platform does not have any restrictions as far as MOQ is concerned.
Typically, the vendors on 1688 tend to define MOQ for wholesale business.
In many instances, the MOQ can be subject to the following conditions;
- MOQ for a single product; in this instance, your order for a particular product should be relatively large than the MOQ.
- MOQ for sellers’ orders; apart from MOQ on a single product, you ought to meet the condition of the MOQ for the seller’s orders. Often, the seller tends to define the specific quantity to be the MOQ for the seller’s orders.
However, you need to understand the parameters surrounding the minimum order quantity you are making.
If you are an importer, rarely would you find a supplier on this platform who engages you on other elements of MOQ.
Ordinarily, you may pick many pieces of the same item from this platform from your supplier.
Alternatively, you may select numerous pieces of different items still from the same supplier to meet the MOQ.
It is all based on the terms and conditions guiding the MOQ for a particular seller.
In many instances, though, merchants in 1688 hardly have a specific MOQ on their products.
Depending on the type of product, purchasing small quantities from 1688 would end up being relatively costly.
In most instances, the Chinese customs authority usually change export duty depending on the size of the consignment.
Therefore, where possible, always think of procuring a sizeable quantity when importing from this portal.
It gives you value for money in the long run.
How to Pay for Goods on 1688.com
You can pay suppliers on 1688.com using various means.
The ideal method is dependent on what the seller seems perfect.
Remember, it is a domestic business platform, so most merchants prefer local payment options.
Some of the ideal payment methods you may consider include the following;
Alipay – It is a digital wallet, which allows buyers to carry out transactions directly from mobile devices. However, you need to have a verified Alipay account to use this payment method.
Wechat – It a multipurpose mobile payment application used across different countries around the world. Most Chinese sellers use it as a means of receiving payment for international transactions.
RMB Account – You need to have a standard local account, which you use for receiving USD and then converted to Renminbi. In this case, the transaction counts as a domestic transaction; hence there is no export rebate.
Personal bank account –You can also open a personal account and use it for receiving USD and convert to RMB before paying the supplier.
Use a payment agent – If you have a reliable agent, you can use his or their account to pay for the goods from 1688. You need to send money, and they will find ways of clearing with the merchant on 1688.com.
In any case, the buyer must obtain an export license if the supplier accepts US dollars currency.
And the process is usually hectic, thus the need for an agent to assist you with payment in US dollars.
Verifying Quality of Goods on 1688.com
It is vital to ensure you confirm the quality of the product before you order it.
This can be challenging, especially if you are an importer.
However, an ideal way you can use is by asking for a sample, especially if you are about to make a large order.
This way, you can determine whether or not the specific item meets your demands in terms of quality.
You can also request the vendor to send you the photos of the product you are looking for.
If you’re familiar with it, you’ll be able to tell whether it is of the right quality for your needs or not.
The other option, which is highly recommended, is to work with a trustworthy procurement agent.
It could be an individual or a company.
Whichever the case, they should be able to source for the items and confirm they meet the expected quality standards.
Sourcing agents understand the right quality for your needs based on your description and budget.
Since most of them are local-based, it becomes easy to verify the quality of goods when buying from 1688.com
Sourcing agents also come in handy in this verification, especially if the products are customized.
Custom-made goods require a keen eye to determine whether or not they meet the required quality standards.
The other option, which is also common, entails the 1688.com agents verifying the quality of the goods.
Once the supplier delivers the items to the 1688.com warehouse, they are subjected to quality checks.
If confirmed to meet the recommended quality standards, the goods are then shipped to the buyer.
How to Ship from 1688
There are several shipping options you may want to consider upon purchasing items from 1688.com.
The cost, speed, and efficiency of the shipping options also vary based on a specific one of your choice.
The fastest means you can consider is express shipping.
It is the safest and more convenient method since delivery of your consignment is done on your doorstep.
Express shipping entails using carrier services that pick the item from the vendor and deliver it directly to the buyer.
It is a bit costly and ideal for shipment weighing less than 100kgs.
This method allows you to obtain your product within the shortest time possible.
It can be within hours or a few days, depending on your destination.
You can also opt for air freight.
It involves use of airlines, which offer cargo transportation services.
Once the cargo is cleared at the customs, it transported to the respective destination using the airline carrier.
This method is also safe, fast, and convenient.
However, it can be a bit expensive, thus ideal for a consignment of 500kgs and below.
Trucking is the other ideal means of shipping you may want to consider.
It is relatively fast compared to rail freight.
Even so, it is only limited to countries bordering China.
You can also choose rail freight to ship consignment from 1688.com.
It is comparatively slow compared to trucking and air freight.
And the most commonly used shipping method when buying items from 1688 is sea freight.
This is largely used by importers who purchase large quantities from this B2B online platform.
It is cost-effective but can take significantly more days before you receive your consignment.
Ways to avoid Scam when Buying from 1688
To prevent scam when purchasing from 1688.com, you may want to consider the following aspects;
- Always be skeptical of any branded product retailing at lower rates. It should serve as a red flag until you verify it from reliable sources.
- Ensure you are buying from a verified seller or supplier on this platform. If the merchant has a blue tick on its name, it is verified. Where there is no blue tick, the supplier is unverified; hence you must tread carefully.
- Refrain from making advance payments to an individual account. It does not matter whether or not the person is the owner of the company. Only send money to verified company’s bank account.
- Never buy any form of software or application from 1688.com. It is difficult to find a genuine tech-related product on 1688.
- If a supplier is unwilling to send samples, whether paid for or otherwise, try to be tread carefully. It could be a sign of scam in the offing.
- Never send money to any supplier using Western Union or Money gram. Choose other acceptable payment methods such as Alipay and Wechat, among others.
- If the supplier inflates the cost after issuing the profoma invoice, it could be a sign of a scam. The best approach is to always consider 2-3 suppliers concurrently. So that you can contact other alternatives should the first one inflate the price.
- Ensure you apply for trade assurance when dealing with new merchants on this platform.
- Utilize the services of a reputable and trustworthy agent. It can help you significantly from any form of scam on 1688. You will be dealing directly with the agent, and should any issue arise, they must take full responsibility.
As you can see, you can benefit from importing from 1688.com more so if you don’t speak Chinese.
However, BanSar is here to help you shopping and ship from 1688.com easily.
Contact BanSar today for all your importing needs from 1688.