You’ll find almost everything that you want to buy on 1688.com. Learn how to buy wholesale products from the Chinese central mall that is also known as the Chinese Alibaba.
If you’re familiar with how to buy on Alibaba.com, then Meet its Chinese counterpart: 1688.com.
It works as Alibaba, but everything on the site is in Chinese as it caters to China’s domestic market. Many people visit the site as they believe that 1688 offers better deals compared to Alibaba.
In this article, we’ll go into detail to see if that is the case.
Read on to learn more about 1688.com and see whether the suppliers on the site do offer cheap prices, the common payment method, and how to buy wholesale products for them for your business.
What is 1688.com?
Owned by the Alibaba group, 1688 is another popular B2B supplier directory where you can find wholesalers, factories, manufacturers, and trading companies, in almost every type of industry.
It is one of the biggest go-to sourcing and wholesale websites that is famous among Chinese people. 1688.com requires all of their sellers or suppliers to provide Government business license before they can list their items on the site.
To see whether their sellers or suppliers are committed and serious about their partnership, they also charge them with an annual membership fee of 6888 CNY. This makes 1688 one of the best sites to find legit sellers that are real and not scammers.
The reason why the Chinese version of Alibaba is not called Alibaba.cn is that substituting words for similar-sounding numbers is common in China and some areas in Asia.
When you read 1688 in Chinese, it sounds like “Yao Liu Ba Ba,” which is close to the pronunciation of Alibaba.
It easily attracted the Chinese market due to its wide array of relatively low prices. A lot of trading companies also buy wholesale products on 1688.com and sell them globally.
At the moment, there are over 50,000 legitimate sellers listed on 1688.com. With that number, it’s almost always sure that you’ll find what you’re looking for in the site.
In this article, we will answer users’ most commonly asked questions about 1688.com for a smooth shopping experience.
How is 1688.com different from Alibaba.com?
Alibaba was designed to be export-focused for international business trade whereas 1688.com caters exclusively for domestic trade. This is why Alibaba is available in major languages such as English, French, Spanish, German, Korean, Russian, Japanese, and more.
1688.com, on the other hand, is all in Chinese. However, if you’re using Google Chrome to navigate the site, you can translate the words on the site to make sense of it all.
You can find various factories and wholesalers on 1688.com similar to Alibaba. Some companies even sell on both platforms to cater to the international and domestic market.
Are The Products Listed on 1688.com Cheaper?
It is often true that Chinese suppliers sell their products to domestic buyers at lower prices. However, the reason is not because they are patronizing their compatriot. It is mainly because of issues in quality.
Suppliers from China are aware that they can’t offer international buyers the same quality of products that they offer to their local customers.
When they sell to European or American customers, they mostly provide great quality products, which is why they tend to quote higher prices.
It is not wise to assume that you’ll get wholesale products for a lower cost when you shop on 1688.com suppliers instead of Alibaba as this is not the usual case.
Things to Consider Before Buying from 1688.com
1688.com is indeed one of the best sites to do small wholesale orders from China. However, just like any other B2B platforms in China, it is important to be extra wary and consider the following pointers for a satisfying purchase.
Not all stock information is accurate.
After placing an order, the FSC or “FreeShoppingChina.com” system will still need to confirm with the seller if the items you wish to purchase is in stock.
While the stock information on the site is accurate 90 percent of the time, there are still sellers who offer extremely cheap prices who usually run out of stock but still keeps listing the items as if it is in stock.
To avoid confusion, always shop with a store that has bullhead beside its name. This means that it is certificated by Alibaba Group and is a better company to shop on.
Invalid Order and Purchase Failure
When you experience purchase failure after placing an order, you will be notified by the FSC purchasers that the order is out of stock and will be moved to invalid list waiting for your cancellation. Otherwise, it will proceed forward successfully.
It's a bit distinct from the Tmall.com or Amazon.com retail inventory. Because it's wholesale, you generally have to get used to it. If it is invalid, you can find another store and send a fresh order for the comparable product.
This is not a large issue as there are so many vendors on the site.
However, do take note that it takes a few days for users to cancel the orders after a purchase failure on 1688.com. Getting your money back from the seller can not be done immediately, and you’ll have to wait until the money is refunded to 1688 first.
Apart from the waiting time, there is not much to worry about as the deal is protected by 1688.com. Meanwhile, you can start submitting a new order for your canceled purchases to other sellers. 1688 will be tracking the refund process with the seller as you work on this.
Cost Adjustment of Domestic Shipping
Domestic shipping is simply shipping to the FSC warehouse from the provider. Domestic transport costs for wholesale orders will usually be adjusted on 1688.com depending on the complete weight of the parcel.
The FSC system automatically fills domestic shipping with the default 15CNY amount as the minimum domestic shipping cost for each order on 1688.com. This is because the FSC system does not know the detailed weight of the parcel or the final domestic shipping when placing the order.
However, this does not imply that 15CNY is the final national shipment. FSC purchasers will confirm the final national shipping manually when FSC purchasers place the orders to 1688.com providers after you have submitted the first payment instructions.
After the domestic shipping cost has been confirmed to exceed 15CNY, the FSC buyer will adjust the cost by deducting the difference from your account balance, along with a message sent to you that the domestic shipping cost is adjusted and a charge record was added to your account history.
If you want to assess the total price better, you can estimate the complete price with your estimated weight by adding approximately 8-15CNY / kg national shipping.
Usually, the detailed final price and cost rely on the shipping partner of the supplier. So here you can estimate it. Usually, however, you don't have to worry about national shipping except that your products are heavy and large.
Don't Purchase Products That Are Too Big Or Too Heavy.
If you want to purchase very large products such as dining tables or large weight or volume machines, you need to consider the elevated national shipping costs and global shipping costs.
We don't recommend you purchase them except when you have an inexpensive forwarder ready.
Timing and Delays
As a wholesale site, you can’t expect your retail order from 1688.com to be on schedule. Wholesale order typically needs a lead time, meaning that the item may not be shipped out immediately. Based on the experience of most customers, the lead times of most orders are in 1-5 days.
A few orders may take 5-7 days to complete while a very few might even take up to 2-4 weeks to complete.
The lead time may be at most 1-3 days longer during busy seasons. It may also take another 3-5 days for national shipping. It usually takes more than a week for the goods to arrive in FSC warehouse after placing the order.
Therefore, make your buy plan smooth by considering the lead time and setting suitable timing standards.
If you discover that the order has been held as "Ordered" status (which implies the order has already been put on 1688.com to providers) for more than a week, you can email our buyer to attempt to cancel the order if you are no longer waiting.
If the vendor has not shipped out, 1688’s buyer will assist you to cancel the order.
In cases when the order was already shipped out by the seller, it is not recommended that you cancel it as it will result in losses under the terms of the cancelation of the order.
Storage at the FSC(FreeShoppingChina.com) Warehouse
As most orders on 1688.com take more than a week to complete, FSC provides 3 months of free warehouse to keep your products, which is enough for most orders.
Instead of keeping the products in the warehouse for too long, 1688 recommends that customers ship the products ASAP once all arrive.
If the items are kept for more than 3 months in FSC warehouse, 5 percent of the item value will be charged for warehouse fees each month starting at the 4th month.
If the user's account balance for the warehouse fee and commission is not sufficient, the items / parcels will no longer be kept in FSC warehouse but will be disposed of after FSC deducts the commission from the account balance.
Communicating with Suppliers
Most vendors on 1688.com are not English speaking. But Google Translator can be used to translate English to Chinese and then send your translations to your providers.
It is recommended to hire a buying agent who will act as your interpreter. You may also opt to take some fast Chinese lessons to order straight from the company. To assist you in purchasing the products, it's better to find an agent and have them send the goods to your address.
Since 1688.com caters mostly to the domestic market, the stores or wholesalers rarely operate their 1688 account with English speaking staff.
In order to become a 1688 vendor, all providers of the products on the website must obtain government company permits. This means that all 1688.com vendors of companies and products are real and authentic.
You can inspect the registration data of the company in the shop of the seller. The website obviously presented details such as date of incorporation, registered assets, company address, and business scope of the company.
Checking the Supplier’s Information
To check the supplier’s information, you can open the vendor’s home page, click on “Company” and click on “View Business Registration Information”.
In there, you can inspect the registration data of the company in the shop of the seller. The website obviously presented details such as date of incorporation, registered assets, company address, and business scope of the company.
One might say that the financial system of China is still in' beta mode.' The normal corporate bank account in China is only Renminbi (RMB) for keeping the local currency.
RMB accounts may earn USD, but this makes it a "national transaction." Therefore, there is no export rebate that can deduct 17% to the factory cost.
Instead, businesses focused on exporting must open a distinct bank account to receive US dollars. This is the bank account that you pay when you send your provider cash.
But what if the products have never been exported before by the provider?
If that’s the case, they probably don't even have a USD bank account, so they can't get USD.
1688.com Export Licenses
In China, before they can ship products abroad, a business must receive an export permit. The permit shall not be acquired on an order basis, but shall be valid for several years.
Many providers, particularly the bigger ones, tend to function on China's national market as well as export to other nations. Of course, these providers have export permits.
These vendors, however, are also usually listed on Alibaba.com. 1688.com providers concentrated solely on the national market need not apply for and retain export permits.
Good thing, there are methods to address the need for export licenses.
The sellers of 1688, for instance, can use an export agent. Not all local providers, however, are willing to be bothered by one client with all of these additional documentations.
If you really want to purchase 1688 products, you can hire a buying agent yourself for assistance.
A good 1688.com sourcing agent can help you coordinate shipments, manage payments, and take care of export procedures.
Many importers have the feeling that vendors from 1688.com offer reduced rates than anybody else.
And they do sometimes, but not for the same value or quality.
In addition, 1688.com vendors are seldom prepared to export. The products will not leave the nation without a USD bank account and an export permit. There are workarounds, but that doesn't bother most “local vendors.”
When 1688.com makes sense to importers outside of China, there are very few scenarios.
Maybe if you need to supply your export provider with certain products and parts, but that's about it.
Fortunately, for exporting companies, there are Alibaba.com and other provider directories.
Import from China actually is not a simple task. If you are working with a sourcing agent like me, then you’re already way ahead of the game. But what if you’re one of the 99% of small business owners or Amazon sellers who are not familiar with importing from China. I want to share my sourcing expertise with you to help you grow business.