How to buy on 1688

In 2022, China exported goods valued at over 3.5 trillion dollars. For importers from the West, the most known websites to find Chinese suppliers are Alibaba and Made in China. However, there is another portal that may create lots of business opportunities – 1688. The biggest issue with this website? It is dedicated to Chinese buyers, so foreigners may encounter difficulties using it.

What is 1688?

1688 is a part of Alibaba Group. It is a B2B portal oriented toward wholesale and local trade between Chinese suppliers and buyers. As many Chinese source from 1688 to later sell products on websites such as AliExpress and Alibaba, the prices on 1688 are very competitive.

1688 logo

What difficulties you may encounter while using 1688?

  • One of the main issues is the language barrier. 1688 website is only in Chinese, so browsing the website can be difficult if you do not know the language. Also, as its primary aim is to connect Chinese businesses, the suppliers you can find here often do not speak English, so it is more difficult to negotiate product specifications with a potential supplier.
  • Payment can be a hassle. On 1688, you can only make payments using RMB. You also need to have a Chinese bank account.
  • You must have a Chinese phone number and delivery address to buy from 1688.
  • Because 1688 is oriented towards local buyers, the manufacturers are not prepared to export their products abroad. Therefore, they often do not have the necessary certifications and documents.

How to buy on 1688?

If you are not a Chinese wholesaler, you cannot place an order on 1688 by yourself. However, you may use the services of special agents who can communicate with Chinese suppliers, have a Chinese phone number, and can pick up your order. They will act as your middleman. It may seem like it solves a problem, but by using such services, you have to be ready for additional costs.

You can also try to get in touch with a Chinese supplier by using a different platform, for example, WeChat, but the language barrier may make it very difficult to make a deal.

How to register on 1688?

If you want to look through offers on 1688 anyway, here is a short guide on how to register on 1688 and how to browse its contents.

1. First, open the 1688 website:

2. On top of the page, you will find 免费注册 meaning “free registration.”

Registration on 1688

3. If you do not have a Chinese business license, you cannot open a business account. You should choose 个人账户注册 “individual account registration.” Fill in the necessary information.

How to buy on 1688

4. You will receive a message with a code that you need to write in a pop-up window.

How to register on 1688

5. Now, you need to fill in your account information.

Register on 1688 com

How to use 1688?

When you register on 1688, you can start looking for the products you want. For each product, you can find information about the price (which usually gets lower the larger amount of product you buy), specifications, payment methods, and pictures.

Product search on 1688

If you find a supplier that you want to get in touch with, you need to fill in your contact information.

Should you buy on 1688?

The prospect of buying a product for a lower price may be tempting. With thousands and thousands of suppliers in any product category, 1688 has a lot to offer. However, it is not a platform made for importers from abroad. Looking through the offers and communicating with manufacturers is hard if you do not speak Chinese. Also, if you do not live in China, you will need to use a middleman, which will generate further costs that may raise the cumulated expenses to the point where the price from 1688 is no longer advantageous. It is good to know that such a platform exists, but we recommend using other e-commerce websites that connect you with Chinese suppliers.

How to buy on 1688 – summary

  • 1688 is a B2B platform that connects Chinese manufacturers with buyers and suppliers.
  • When buying from 1688, you may need to use the services of an agent who will communicate with your Chinese supplier and pick up your order in China.
  • While 1688 has the advantage of lower prices, there are many problems: the language barrier, no certification necessary for export, and having to hire a trade agent.