1. Introduction to 1688.com
What is 1688.com?
1688.com is China's premier wholesale B2B and dropshipping website, serving as the Chinese equivalent of Alibaba.com and Aliexpress.com.
Similar to Alibaba.com, 1688.com allows you to discover products, manufacturers, and various service providers, enabling you to establish connections with them.
This platform follows the traditional method of importing from China. However, in recent years, it has enhanced its online wholesale capabilities in response to the growing number of online store owners.
This enhancement enables small and medium-sized online businesses to directly place orders with suppliers, mirroring the shopping experience on AliExpress or Amazon.com.
Why Choose 1688.com?
Lower and Transparent Prices:
This is the primary reason why many people choose to buy from 1688.com. The platform hosts numerous factory and top wholesale suppliers, allowing you to directly source products from Chinese factories.
By bypassing export agents or trade companies, you can purchase goods at a more affordable price. Moreover, the product prices on 1688.com are transparent and vary based on your purchase volume.
The more you buy, the cheaper the unit price becomes. Consider the following example:
For a purchase volume of 2-5 pieces, the price is 18.5 RMB.
When the purchase volume increases to 6-23 pieces, the price drops to 15.5 RMB.
With a purchase volume exceeding 24 pieces, the price further decreases to 14.5 RMB.
Access to a Wide Range of Products and High-Quality Suppliers:
While Alibaba.com and trade shows provide access to only a fraction of suppliers, 1688.com encompasses almost all suppliers in China. This comprehensive platform offers an extensive selection of products and suppliers.
Keep in mind that certain products and suppliers on 1688.com cater exclusively to domestic buyers and export companies. However, you can directly connect with suppliers on the platform using their Aliwangwang or WeChat accounts, facilitating seamless communication.
Ideal for Small Sellers and Startups
The minimum order quantity (MOQ) required by suppliers on Alibaba.com is often very high, forcing you to wholesale hundreds or even thousands of products at once to get started.
For small sellers, this poses a considerable risk, as purchasing such a large inventory all at once can be daunting.
Fortunately, 1688.com offers a significantly lower threshold for purchasing. In fact, for certain products, the minimum order quantity can be as low as 1 or 2 pieces.
As a small seller, you can establish a store with ten or more product categories for a mere $100 or $200.
Moreover, some suppliers on 1688.com provide dropshipping services, eliminating the need for you to hold inventory. Simply provide the recipient information, and they will ship the products directly to your customers worldwide.
This approach allows you to start a business with virtually zero initial costs.
Ways to Profit from 1688.com
As mentioned earlier, 1688.com boasts numerous vendors offering a wide array of products and services, presenting ample opportunities for making money.
If you're interested in earning from 1688.com but unsure where to begin, here are some of the most effective and realistic approaches to consider:
A. Wholesale from 1688.com
At 1688.com, you can make bulk purchases and have them sent to your freight forwarder's address.
Your freight forwarder will then consolidate the items into one or several packages and ship them to you.
Once you receive the products, you can resell them either through your local store or online.
B. Buy from 1688.com and ship to Amazon FBA
Many individuals currently engage in this practice. They buy products from 1688.com and have their suppliers or freight forwarders label the items and boxes with Amazon labels before shipping them directly to Amazon's warehouses.
Note that this refers not to American sellers sending goods to Amazon warehouses in the United States, but rather to American sellers shipping products to their Amazon warehouses in North America, Europe, Japan, or other locations.
You can ship your 1688.com purchases from China to an Amazon warehouse worldwide at the lowest cost.
C. Dropshipping with 1688.com
To begin, you need to secure a dropshipping-friendly supplier on 1688.com (there are many available).
Next, you receive orders through your own online store.
Finally, you request your 1688.com supplier to fulfill the orders and ship them directly to your buyers.
D. Sell Custom Products to Your Fans
If you have a popular blog or social media account, such as YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram, with a substantial number of subscribers, you can collaborate with a merchant on 1688.com to customize products and sell them to your followers.
E. Become a 1688.com agent
While you may be familiar with 1688.com, many people or businesses in your country may not be aware of this site.
Once you are well-versed in the purchasing process on 1688.com, you can establish a virtual trading company.
Create a website in your local language to assist individuals or small businesses in your country with their purchases on 1688.com.
2. Can Foreigners Buy Directly from 1688.Com?
Can Foreigners Purchase Directly from 1688.com as Individuals?
Yes, but only if they have a China bank account.
Registering an account with 1688.com and adding products to your cart is easy, but the main challenge lies in the payment step when dealing with the supplier.
Take a look at the image below:
This is the payment page for ordering on 1688.com (it redirects to the Alipay page). I've switched to the overseas version.
Here, it states that as a foreigner, you can only pay with your Alipay balance or a mainland China bank card.
To activate the Alipay balance feature, you need to verify your Alipay account with a mainland China bank card. Therefore, a mainland China bank card is crucial.
However, you must personally come to China to open a bank account; it cannot be done online or at a Chinese bank branch in your local area.
This presents a significant barrier for most individuals.
Can Foreigners Buy Directly from 1688.com as Companies?
Yes, they can. In the screenshot below, you can see the checkout page of 1688.com. On the left side of the Alipay option (支付宝), there is another payment option called cross-border pay (跨境宝).
This is a new payment solution launched by 1688.com and Alipay for certain foreign companies. I will provide more information about this payment solution in part 7 of this article.
3 Models for Buying from 1688.com through an Agent
Now that you understand how challenging it is for most people to buy and pay directly on 1688.com, similar to Alibaba.com, it's no wonder that most foreigners don't utilize this site for their purchases.
Feeling frustrated? Considering giving up?
No, please don't!
Because I know there are many individuals who have overcome these obstacles and are currently making significant profits by leveraging 1688.com!
And you can do it too.
Let me share with you some of the approaches people are using today to make purchases from 1688.com.
A. Contact the Supplier on 1688.com Directly
Once you have registered your 1688.com account, you can log in to your AliWangWang account and directly communicate with the supplier.
Alternatively, you can find the supplier's mobile number or WeChat ID on the product page and contact them through WeChat.
The rest is similar to purchasing from Alibaba: discuss product details, samples, order quantities, discounts, payment methods, etc., with the suppliers.
You can bypass intermediaries and communicate directly with the manufacturer.
Most sellers on 1688.com cater exclusively to domestic buyers, so the prices they offer are usually lower than on Alibaba.
Many suppliers don't speak English, so patience and simple English are required.
Many 1688.com suppliers don't have PayPal accounts, and their bank cards only accept RMB. You need to find a payment method they can accept.
B. Buy from 1688.com with a Shopping Proxy Website (Agent)
Numerous China buying agent websites offer a service for purchasing from popular Chinese online stores like Taobao, 1688.com, JD.com.
All you need to do is submit the product link on their website, and they will assist you in buying the product from the supplier.
Once all your orders reach their warehouse, they will consolidate and repack them before sending them to you using different shipping methods.
For those agents, you can try with doesbuy.com, one of reliable sourcing agents that i recommend.
These websites provide a simple and user-friendly procedure. The shopping experience is excellent, and the entire process is similar to shopping on AliExpress.
They also offer payment methods such as PayPal or credit cards.
Usually, the services offered by these sites are limited. They won't help you source products or suppliers or check the quantity and quality of your orders.
You have to find your target products and suppliers on 1688.com yourself!
Their shipping methods are only suitable for small orders. They don't offer options like air cargo, railroad, LCL, or sea freight for large orders.
C. 1688.com Sourcing and Purchasing Agent
If you search on Google or Alibaba.com, you'll find many 1688.com sourcing or purchasing agents.
They offer more professional and comprehensive services. You usually only need to provide your needs or product images, and they will take care of the rest.
They usually provide additional services such as product and manufacturer sourcing, samples, product customization, customs clearance, and more transportation methods.
Their service follows a one-on-one model, ensuring prompt and personalized assistance.
Many agents are fluent in foreign languages, allowing you to communicate in your local language.
They prefer big customers and big orders. If your order is small, they may charge a high commission or respond less positively.
They make money from hidden commissions or discounts. They often negotiate with suppliers without informing you about any discounts.
To secure your order, they claim on their website that they can fulfill all your needs, even though it's not always feasible.
3. Registering on 1688.Com
In a separate piece, I provide a comprehensive explanation of why it's beneficial to create a 1688.com account and the precise steps to follow.
I am confident that article will address any inquiries you have regarding the 1688.com account.
4. Discovering Products on 1688.Com
Once you have successfully created your 1688.com account, you can dive into the purchasing process by searching for the desired product.
Prepare Product Images and Keywords
Utilize the image search feature on 1688.com, as it is the quickest way to locate your desired product.
Make sure to have several product images readily available.
For products where images might not yield relevant results, prepare 3 to 5 keywords for the product and translate them into Chinese.
Here's a useful trick: Use these keywords to search for the product on platforms like Taobao, Amazon, or AliExpress. Take a screenshot of the product and use these screenshots to search on 1688.com.
Enter Keywords or Upload Pictures
Now, simply input the prepared keywords into the search bar (Label.1) or click the camera icon (Label.2) to upload the image.
If all goes well, you'll be presented with numerous similar products like this:
5. Selecting High-Quality Suppliers on 1688.Com
The next step involves choosing the most suitable supplier from the extensive list of similar product providers on 1688.com.
Fortunately, 1688.com offers various search filtering options to help you narrow down your selection. I have labeled and will explain each option in detail:
Indicates that the seller can ship your order within 48 hours.
This option is crucial because not all suppliers have the item in stock, and some may begin production only after receiving your order.
If you are dissatisfied with the received goods and wish to return them, this option holds the seller responsible for domestic return shipping fees.
If you or your agent can conduct quality control while the product is in your China warehouse, selecting this option allows you to purchase the product risk-free.
7+ days replacement: The seller guarantees replacement service for defective goods within 7 days of the buyer signing for the delivery.
If the seller fails to fulfill this commitment, the buyer can initiate rights protection within the specified period and apply for compensation.
Similar to Alibaba's Gold Membership, this label indicates the selection of certain quality manufacturers and distributors. Generally, this signifies good product quality and timely delivery.
This option implies that the supplier can provide customization services based on the product. For example, you can request design changes, additional materials, or your own logo.
Personalizes your selection based on your browsing and shopping history.
Used to filter products based on price. Enter a price range, such as 10-20.
Filters products based on the minimum order quantity (MOQ).
Filters suppliers based on their location.
You can choose the same province as your logistics provider. For instance, if your logistics provider is in Shenzhen or Guangzhou, select Guangdong Province (广东省). This saves on shipping costs and time for domestic shipping.
Filters products based on shipping time, with three options:
- Same day
- Next day
- Within 3 days
Filters suppliers based on their business type, with four options:
- Business services
Allows you to choose a supplier that has undergone in-depth inspection.
"In-depth inspection" is a service provided by 1688.com to certify the comprehensive capabilities of their supplier members. It involves an audit conducted by a reputable international certification company, resulting in a credible certification report.
If you are seeking a factory, choose "In-depth Manufacturer inspection" (深度验厂). For trading companies, select "In-depth Wholesale/distribution inspection" (深度验商).
This logo indicates that the supplier is a large manufacturer and has successfully passed the in-depth manufacturer inspection.
Displays the product's sales in the most recent month. This data provides insights into the product's popularity.
This symbol signifies that the supplier has been a paid seller on 1688.com for two years.
Generally, the longer a supplier has been a paid member, the more stable and reliable they are.
6. Communication with Sellers
Placing an order directly is possible for most products on 1688.com. However, some sellers may have certain restrictions or require communication before placing an order. Thus, it is crucial to engage with suppliers on 1688.com during your purchasing process.
While agents can handle this task for you, they may not always provide accurate information about prices and other details. If you aim to establish a long-term relationship and build your supply chain on 1688.com, learning to communicate with sellers using common tools used by Chinese suppliers becomes a necessary skill.
What to Communicate with Suppliers
1. Negotiating with the supplier:
Although the seller displays tiered pricing on the page, it does not necessarily represent the final price. If your order volume is substantial, you can attempt to negotiate a discount with the supplier. Additionally, you can inquire about reducing or waiving domestic shipping costs, which can save you money.
2. Confirming product details and delivery time:
Product images on the page are often modified, so you can request more authentic product pictures from the seller. Moreover, many products are not readily available in the seller's warehouse. If your order is time-sensitive, confirming the delivery time with your supplier is of utmost importance.
3. Inquiring about product certifications:
While Alibaba suppliers often specify which certifications their products have obtained, many 1688.com sellers do not provide such information. If your imported products require specific certifications like CE, FDA, or RoHS, it is essential to communicate with the seller in advance.
Two Tools for Communicating with 1688.com Suppliers
1. Aliwangwang (阿里旺旺):
Aliwangwang is the official chat tool used in Taobao and 1688.com. You can download it through the provided link. Note that Trademanager is the international version of AliWangWang, exclusively for use on Alibaba.com and AliExpress, not on Taobao or 1688.com.
Simply click on the blue icon, and the chat interface will appear.
WeChat is a chat tool similar to WhatsApp, widely used in China. Suppliers on 1688.com place significant emphasis on WeChat marketing and often share new promotions or products through this platform. If you intend to establish a long-term relationship with a supplier, it is recommended to add them as a friend on WeChat. Typically, a supplier's cell phone number serves as their WeChat ID, which can be found in the upper right or lower-left corner of the product page.
7. Payment and Placing an Order
If you're purchasing from 1688.com through an agent, payment is straightforward. They usually offer convenient methods like credit card or PayPal. However, if you want to bypass the middleman and establish a direct relationship with the supplier or avoid high exchange rates and commissions, you need to explore other payment options.
Most suppliers on 1688.com do not support PayPal, bitcoin, international credit cards, or accept US dollars in their bank accounts. Here are some payment methods you can use:
Paying through Alipay is the most affordable and convenient option. However, as mentioned earlier, to make Alipay payments to 1688.com suppliers, you must verify your Alipay account with a Chinese bank card. Online or remote account opening for a Chinese bank account is not supported, so you'll need to visit a Chinese bank in person to open an account.
B. Alipay Business Account with 1688 Cross-border Pay:
1688 Cross-border Pay (跨境宝/Kuajingbao/KJB) is a payment solution provided by 1688 and Alipay for companies registered in certain overseas countries and regions. This solution allows foreign companies to directly pay their 1688 suppliers using their own Alipay and 1688 accounts. It guarantees the security of your accounts, and the fees charged are much lower compared to using a 1688 agent. The exchange rate is also more competitive than the bank's live rate. If your company is interested, you can learn more about it by clicking here and here.
C. Alipay's "Pay for You" Feature:
Alipay has a feature called "Pay for You" that enables you to invite your friends in China to make payments on your behalf. If you have friends there, you can ask them to assist you with the payment.
D. Bank Deposit via Online Transfer:
Most suppliers support bank transfers, but they can only accept payments in RMB. Companies like Transferwise or Paysend allow you to transfer RMB directly to the supplier's private bank account.
E. Western Union:
Western Union is a relatively simple method where you only need to know the recipient's name and address. This option is more suitable for small payments.
F. Chinese Individuals in Your Country:
With many Chinese people studying or doing business abroad, you can establish connections with them and ask them to make payments on your behalf. In return, you can pay them in the local currency.
8. Domestic Shipping
Typically, the seller can ship your order within 24 hours of receiving payment. Suppliers usually operate from Monday to Saturday and even ship on Saturdays.
They will ship your order using express or courier services, and it will take approximately 1-3 days for the package to reach your address within China.
Once shipped, the supplier will provide you with a tracking number. You can track your package on the order page or ask your agent for the tracking number.
The shipping price listed by the supplier on the product page is usually on the higher side. Intra-provincial transport generally costs around 1 RMB per kilogram, while inter-provincial transportation ranges from 2-3 RMB per kilogram.
If you find the supplier's shipping fee too high, you can directly negotiate or ask your agent to communicate with the supplier regarding a modification. Most suppliers are willing to accommodate such requests.
Typically, the goods will arrive at your China warehouse within 2-4 days after the seller ships them.
It is advisable to conduct product quality inspection at this stage. If any issues are found, you can contact the seller for returns or exchanges.
Discovering problems after receiving the product can be troublesome, and returning it to China can incur significant expenses.
You can request your freight forwarder or agent to assist with basic quality control tasks such as taking detailed product and packaging photos, checking quantities, and so on.
I understand that some importers require additional labels, such as Amazon tags or product logos.
Beforehand, it's important to discuss with your forwarder if they provide similar services, as not all forwarders are willing to offer them.
If you purchase goods from multiple suppliers, you can have them sent to the same address and consolidate them into a single package. This can help reduce shipping costs.
10. International Shipping
In my view, if you aim to achieve significant profits from importing goods from China, it is essential to have complete control over the logistics process from China to your country.
This aspect is of utmost importance!
Logistics profoundly impacts your overall costs, customs clearance, inventory management, and more.
Without control over logistics, your import business will never reach its full potential.
By "complete control," I mean the following:
1. Familiarize yourself with 4-5 major shipping methods used for transporting goods from China to your country.
2. Develop the ability to select the most suitable shipping method for your specific goods.
3. Establish relationships with 2-3 reliable freight forwarders who can offer these shipping methods at competitive prices while ensuring stable and reliable services.
In a separate article, I have shared essential knowledge about international logistics that you must acquaint yourself with. I highly recommend giving it a read.
11. Customs and Tax
Typically, your freight forwarder or agent will assist you with the customs clearance process.
They will handle the preparation of various documents required for both the export declaration in China (country of origin) and the import declaration in the destination country.
You or your supplier only need to provide the necessary invoices, packing lists, and other product information required for the export declaration.
For certain products, it may be necessary to include relevant test reports from the destination country's market for the import declaration.
For instance, electronic products intended for the EU market often require CE certification, while rechargeable products may necessitate an MSDS battery safety test report, and so on.
12. Closing Remarks
This post concludes here, although I believe there are still several topics that require further clarification.
I intend to write more articles on 1688.com to assist those interested in importing from the platform.
Furthermore, if you wish to be the first to receive updates or/and have any uncertainties regarding this article or any inquiries about 1688.com, please feel free to leave a message below.
I appreciate your messages and will gladly respond to your queries.
Can I buy from 1688.com from Nigeria and Worldwide?
Yes, you can buy from 1688.com from Nigeria. However, shipping to some Africa countries, say,Nigeria, you may need to use a third-party shipping service to get your products.
How can I ensure the quality of products on 1688.com?
To ensure the quality of products, it's essential to research the supplier and read product reviews. You can also chat with the supplier on 1688 to ask specific questions about the product.
What should I do if I encounter a problem with my order?
If you encounter a problem with your order, you should contact the supplier directly. If that doesn't resolve the issue, you can file a complaint with 1688.com.
How can I return or exchange items bought from 1688.com?
The return and exchange policy can vary depending on the supplier. It's essential to understand the policy before making a purchase.
Can I buy wholesale from 1688.com and Ship to Amazon FBA warehouse?
Yes, 1688.com is a popular platform for buying wholesale products and able to ship to worldwide destination, including Amazon worldwide warehouse, with FNSKU and shipping label are prepared by supplier/agent in advance. However, you should ensure that you're dealing with a reputable supplier to avoid fake products.