What is 1688.com?
1688.com is just like Alibaba.com, but all in Chinese language because 1688.com is created for the domestic market in China, so you will need to use a Google chrome browser and switch on the translator function to English to be able to translate the product page to English.
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.
1688.com is a B2B supplier directory owned by Alibaba Group. Just like Alibaba.com, 1688.com is a 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?
1688.com is not limited to wholesalers or factories. Instead, you can find the same types of suppliers on 1688 as you can find on Alibaba.com.
Many suppliers our clients deal with sometimes have company pages on both Alibaba.com and 1688.com; one for international buyers, and one for domestic buyers in China.
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 like Mimi Logistics, or learn mandarin (native Chinese language).
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, that is why sellers on 1688 cannot ship any goods you ordered from them outside China, and the reason you need China sourcing and shipping agents like Mimi Logistics. 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’, and Mimi Logistics is one of the most reputable and reliable 1688.com buying agent. Mimi Logistics will help you with the following:
Communicate with 1688 sellers
Manage payments (from USD or Naira to RMB)
Manage export procedures
And Mimi Logistics will charge you a commission of 4% of total purchase cost.
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.
Steps to order on 1688.com
Open the website with a Google chrome browser, enter the name of the product you want to order, example: “women handbags”, “sneakers”, “power bank” and then press the search button. From the images that show up on the search result with prices (in Chinese currency Yuan also known as RMB), click on the image that you like and it will open, then click on “translate” button at the topmost right hand corner of your browser to translate the product page to English.
Then copy the link and select size, color and quantity and paste in a note pad or MS word in this format:
QTY = 10: 2 blue color, 3 black color, 5 white
...and after searching and selecting products you want, compile them and send them and download Mimilogs Mobile App to enable you place order on 1688, taobao, tmall, etc on your own. To do this, CLICK HERE