How can foreigners buy from

We found that many foreign buyers are very interested in the Chinese wholesale website 1688, because they heard that the products on 1688 are vey cheap.

There are many blog on the Internet telling buyers the benefits and methods of purchasing from 1688, but no one tells buyers whether 1688 is really suitable for them.

So we want to give you a deep understanding of 1688 and be able to judge whether 1688 is really useful for you.

What is 1688?

1688 is a B2B wholesale and direct sales website for the Chinese market founded by Jack Ma in 1999.

Like Alibaba, 1688 is a B2B e-commerce platform under the Alibaba Group. You can find any products and manufacturers you want to purchase on

It’s currently the largest B2B wholesale website in China. All suppliers need to obtain a government business license to sell their products on All suppliers also need to pay an annual membership fee of 6,888 yuan. is legitimate and the sellers are real, not scammers.

Why buy from 1688?

The reason most people buy from 1688 is nothing more than the low price. And most of the suppliers on 1688 are factories, unlike most suppliers on Alibaba are traders.

So buying from 1688 means that you can bypass agents and trading companies and purchase goods directly from the factory.

What’s better is that the price of the products on 1688 is relatively transparent, and the prices of products from 1 to 10,000 units are clearly marked.

But the price of the product is related to the quantity purchased. The more you purchase, the lower the price.

This price is usually the ex-factory price and does not include any shipping costs.


  • When your purchase quantity is 2-79 units, the price is 2.07 yuan;
  • When your purchase quantity is 80-49999 units, the price is 1.98 yuan;
  • When your purchase quantity exceeds 50,000 units, the price drops to 1.53 yuan.

Therefore, 1688 is friendly to small sellers and start-ups.

If you are an entrepreneur, buying too much will result in a backlog of inventory, and the backlog of inventory is risky. The minimum order quantity from 1688 is low, which is very convenient.

But these prices are based on the existing products of the factory. If you need customized products or guarantees, you still need to send an inquiry to the supplier to get a quote.

What is the difference between 1688 and Alibaba?

MarketAlmost all countries except ChinaMainly Russia
Target usersWholesalerConsumer
PricingRelatively low and negotiable

 (B2B-only wholesale rates)

Slightly higher & non-negotiable

 (low B2C-friendly rates)

MOQHigh, usually at least 100 unitsNo MOQ
Buyer ProtectionLimitedYes
Private labelYesNo

Alibaba can be said to be the international version of 1688. They are all B2B platforms, but 1688’s suppliers and sellers are basically Chinese, and its business is conducted in China.

The main difference between 1688 and Alibaba is that the buyers of 1688 are all Chinese, so the information is relatively more transparent.

Buyers can quickly find the specific address and company registration information of the supplier on 1688, making it easier to identify the supplier on 1688. This also led to the fact that most of the suppliers on 1688 were manufacturers.

This is the biggest difference between 1688 and Alibaba. 80% of suppliers on Alibaba are traders, and 80% of suppliers on 1688 are manufacturers. This is why many overseas buyers want to buy from 1688.


4 problems for foreigners to use 1688

1. 1688 Language

As we said before, 1688 is for the Chinese market, so international buyers will find that the website only supports Chinese when they visit 1688.

This is also the reason why most international buyers seek agents when purchasing in 1688. If you do not speak Chinese, you can browse the 1688 website with the help of translation tools.

Use the translation function that comes with the Chrome browser.

C:运营Blog1688压缩1688 translation.png1688 translation

② Google plugin. Search for Google translate extension, and then add it. You can use the translation extension to translate Chinese into English online. This makes it more convenient for you to visit.

Installation tutorial:

Go to extensions and search for google translate. As shown below.

Then click “translate plugin” on the page to directly translate the entire page into English.

Using translation tools can help you understand the website, but it will still be troublesome when you communicate with customers who do not speak English.

When you need to customize the product, language barriers may cause understanding problems between you and the supplier.

2. 1688 Payment method

In addition to language, the biggest problem for international buyers to purchase in 1688 is payment, because the suppliers on 1688 generally support payment methods such as Alipay, WeChat, and domestic bank transfers in China.

As an international buyer, if you want to buy in 1688, you need to have a Chinese bank card, because most suppliers do not support PayPal and overseas payment methods. This is a huge obstacle for most people.

However, recently 1688 has introduced a payment method suitable for foreign buyers. The picture below is the checkout page of 1688.

On the left side of the Alipay option, there is another payment option called cross-border Pay(跨境宝/Kuajingbao/KJB).

C:运营Blog1688压缩1688 payment method.png1688 payment method

This is a new payment solution launched by 1688 and Alipay for some foreign companies. I will introduce this payment solution in Part 10 of this article.

3. 1688 mode of transport

Most 1688 suppliers can only ship goods in China and it is difficult for them to provide express air freight services and invoices, packing lists and customs documents to ship goods abroad.

If you do not have friends in China to help you to receive the package locally. You must use a freight forwarder in China.

But also has some suppliers have international trade department, if your supplier is also doing foreign trade, then you do not have to worry about the problem of transportation.

4. 1688 Quality control/inspection

This is probably the biggest concern for customers. If you can overcome all the above problems, how do you control the quality before shipping?

In fact, this is the same as purchasing on other platforms. You can check the quality of the product through third-party quality inspection companies or purchasing agents before delivery.

But please note that not all quality inspection companies are reliable.

Some quality inspectors or quality inspection companies will not allow the supplier’s product or factory to pass even if the product or factory is qualified if the supplier does not pay the inspector commission.

Conversely, if the product is non-conforming, the inspector may write “pass” on the inspection report if the supplier pays the inspector a commission.

This sort of thing is not the exception; it happens all the time.

Usually, the inspection fee maybe $600 a time, which is paid by the buyer himself.

If the goods fail to pass the inspection on the same day, the quality inspector will continue to go to the factory for inspection until the goods pass the inspection. The cost is still $600 per time, but the cost shall be borne by the supplier himself.

If the product does not pass the inspection, the buyer will not accept the goods and arrange to pay the balance payment.

Therefore, in order to allow the customer to accept the goods and make payment as soon as possible, the supplier would rather directly pay 1000 USD to the quality inspector, so that the quality inspector will write “passed” on the quality inspection report directly.

As buyers are far away from home, buyer cannot inspect the goods by themselves, so buyers have to rely on a quality inspection company.

In the end, even if there are some problems with the goods they receive, they will have to accept them.

Can foreigners buy from 1688 directly?

The answer is yes, but only if you have a Chinese bank account.

You can easily register an account on, find products and add them to your shopping cart. But the biggest problem is in the last step-payment to the supplier.

How to register and use 1688?

To purchase products from 1688, registering on is the first step to start purchasing products. Below I will show you how to register a 1688 account in detail.

As of 2021, 1688 supports registered accounts in 136 countries and regions around the world.

If you have Taobao or Alipay, you do not need to register for a 1688 account, you can log in to 1688 directly with your Taobao account. Just like you have a Facebook account, you can use it to log in to Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

If there is no Taobao or Alipay. Please refer to the following registration steps:

Step 1: Enter in the browser to the 1688 homepage, and translate the page into English through Google Translate. And click to register for free.

1688 register

Here you can see that there are two registered identities.

  • The first is business account registration, for users with business licenses, including self-employed individuals.
  • The second is personal account registration.

Personal account registration requires a mobile phone number, which currently supports account registration in 136 countries and regions around the world.

After confirming that you are a business or individual registration form, click the agree button of the user registration agreement. (Foreign buyers usually choose personal account registration)

At this time, formally enter the information filling part. Below I will mark each option with a red label, as shown in the figure below:

① Fill in the member name

  • The length of the name is 5-25 characters, and it needs to contain letters or Chinese characters.
  • The login name can only be set once and cannot be changed after the setting is successful.

②Login password

  • 6-20 characters, the password cannot be the same as the user name.
  • It can only contain letters, numbers, and punctuation (except spaces).
  • At least 2 types of letters, numbers and punctuation marks are included.

③ Password confirmation

Enter the same password again

④ Choose your country and mobile phone number

⑤ Slide the verification code

Like Google’s robot verification, the main purpose is to verify whether you are a robot. You just swipe to the right.

⑥ After you click agree and register, it will verify whether your phone is available.

You only need to fill in the verification code received on your phone into the box and click Submit.

If the mobile phone number verification is no problem, the registration is successful.

If you encounter any problems during registration, you can leave a message in the comment area and we will assist you in registering an account.

How to choose quality suppliers on 1688?

After registering an account, the next step is to search for the products you want on 1688. 1688 supports keyword search and image search.

If you have a product picture, you can directly upload the product picture to search.

If there is no picture, you have to use a keyword search (only Chinese is supported).

search products on 1688

When I entered the keyword “马克杯”, a variety of cups appeared. Remember to search in Chinese.

Then you can browse the pictures, prices, specifications and other information of each product.

How to select 1688 suppliers?

1688 is similar to the hierarchical system of Alibaba and Taobao. 1688 also has some signs to judge the strength of the merchants.

As the first importer of 1688, we can judge the seller’s level from the following points:

1688 Power suppliers—bull head symbol

1688 Power suppliers

The bull head symbol shown above is the power suppliers. This is a valid proof of business class. Because the businessman wants to obtain the title of power suppliers, must satisfy 3 qualifications at the same time. They are:

  1. Source manufacturer: Enterprise registered capital ≥500,000 yuan RMB(or equivalent foreign currency) or plant area ≥500 M2;
  2. Official flagship store: Enterprise registered capital ≥300,000 yuan RMB(or equivalent foreign currency) or operating/factory area ≥500 M2;
  3. Brand franchise stores: registered capital of enterprises ≥300,000 yuan RMB (or equivalent foreign currency) .

The different management category also has the corresponding request to the actual power supplier’s qualification.

We can use the symbol to screen out a few relatively reliable businesses before making a more detailed selection.

1688 suppliers years of operation

supplier 1688 operation years

The bottom right corner of every product usually has a year of operation. Its year represents the business history of this online store.

We can judge how long this shop has been open by the year of integrity and trust. 8 years means the store has been open for eight years.

But this can not guarantee the quality of the product, it can be used as an auxiliary standard.

1688 Super factory

In September 2020, 1688 launched the “Super Factory” membership type. The cost of the super factory is 106,800 yuan/year, and the deposit is 16,000 yuan (it can be unfrozen and withdrawn after the end of the service period). The threshold for entering a super factory is also quite high.

Such as:

1. The annual sales are required to be greater than 1000w

2. The plant area is required to be greater than 1000 square meters

3. It is required that the business scope of the member’s business entity must include production/processing qualifications

4. Members are required to accumulate points deductions for violations of less than 36 points this year, and there is no serious infringement of intellectual property rights

5. It is required that the number of seller disputes in the past 90 days by members is <=1, or the online transaction dispute rate in the past 90 days is <=0.03%

However, most of the factories on 1688 are basic suppliers and powerful sellers, and there are very few super factories.

1688 In-depth factory inspection or in-depth trademark inspection


As can be seen from the figure above, companies with such logos have passed the 1688 deep certification.

It is a proprietary certification service launched by the 1688 platform for production enterprises and non-production enterprise users, and is verified on-site by a third-party authoritative organization.

This is a test report commissioned by a third party by 1688. You can see all the information about the company through the report, even down to the panoramic view of the warehouse and office.

C:运营Blog1688压缩1688 in-depth factory inspection report.png1688 in-depth factory inspection report

How to view the 1688 test report?

Step 1: Enter the seller’s homepage

Step 2: Click on the company file

Step 3: Under the basic information, you can see the in-depth certification mark in the comprehensive overview column.

Step 4: Click and enter to view the factory’s actual scene and inspection report.

The factory audit report contains a lot of information, but we focus on the company’s size and the number of employees. The larger the two figures, the stronger the supplier.

For example, comparing the in-depth factory inspection reports of the following two suppliers.

  • You can see that the number of employees and office area of A are 5 and 160 square meters respectively.
  • The number of employees in B is 17, and the plant area is 400 square meters.

After comparison, we know that B is more powerful. If the price is similar, we would definitely choose the B factory.

C:运营Blog1688压缩1688 factory inspection report.png1688 factory inspection report
C:运营Blog1688压缩1688 factory inspection.png1688 factory inspection

You can make a preliminary selection of suppliers through the above points, but more importantly, the products and prices meet your requirements.

How to communicate with Chinese sellers?

Most of the products on can be purchased directly. But for some products, you need to contact the merchant before placing an order to communicate your requirements, such as price negotiation, quantity negotiation, delivery time, transportation method, etc.

Why communicate with suppliers?

① Bargain with suppliers and negotiate the quantity.

Although the seller has marked the price on the page, it does not mean that this is the final price.

If your order is large, you can try to seek a discount from the supplier.

In addition, you can also ask the seller to reduce or waive domestic shipping costs, which can also save you some money.

② Confirm product details, delivery time, etc.

Usually the pictures on the product page are modified, you can ask them for more real product pictures.

In addition, many products are not in stock in the seller’s warehouse. If your order is urgent, please be sure to confirm the delivery time with the supplier.

③Inquiry about product certification

On Alibaba, many suppliers will indicate which certifications their products have passed, such as CE, FDA, and RoHS.

However, many sellers on will not indicate these. If your imported products require these certificates, you need to communicate with the seller in advance.

3 common tools for communicating with 1688?

① Ali Wangwang

Ali Wangwang is the official chat tool between Taobao and 1688. You can click the small blue icon on the product page or merchant page to communicate directly, or you can download Ali Wangwang on the computer or mobile phone.

After downloading, you can log in directly with your 1688 account. After logging in, you can start chatting after adding a supplier.

② WeChat

WeChat is a chat tool similar to WhatsApp. In China, almost everyone has a WeChat account.

And Chinese people use WeChat all day long, even if the time is bad, they can quickly reply to you with WeChat.

You can download and register a WeChat account, and then search for the supplier’s mobile phone number on the 1688 page to add supplier as a WeChat friend.

Because everyone in China is accustomed to binding mobile phone numbers to WeChat, WeChat can be searched by mobile phone number.

How to find the supplier’s mobile phone number:

Enter the homepage of a product in 1688, click on the contact information, and there will be a related phone number.

C:运营Blog1688压缩1688 supplier contact information.png1688 supplier contact information

③ QQ

QQ is a communication tool like WeChat, and it is a product of the same company.

It can be said that almost every Chinese has a QQ, but since the rise of WeChat, fewer and fewer people use QQ, but it does not mean that Chinese people do not use it. It’s just that everyone is more accustomed to using WeChat.

It’s easy to get in touch with the supplier, but the biggest challenge is the language.If you need help, you can also contact us.

How to pay on 1688?

1688 has 4 payment methods in total

① Alipay

To purchase products on 1688, Alipay is nothing more than the easiest and fastest way to pay. However, to register for Alipay, you also need to bind a Chinese bank card before you can pay.

② Bank transfer

Almost all suppliers in China support bank transfers. You can transfer the purchase cost directly to the other party’s account through online banking. However, most of the 1688 suppliers currently only accept RMB.

Find someone to pay

There is a function on Alipay called Find someone to pay on your behalf. You can share the link with your friends and let them pay for you. This function is generally at the top right of the payment page.

④ Alipay Business Account With 1688 Cross-Border Pay

1688 cross-border Pay(跨境宝/Kuajingbao/KJB) is a payment solution offered by 1688 and alipay for companies registered in certain overseas countries and regions.

This solution allows foreign companies to pay their suppliers on 1688 directly through their own alipay and 1688 accounts.

Because this is the official solution provided by 1688 and Alipay, so your account security is totally guaranteed. you no longer have to worry about your 1688 or Alipay account is frozen or restricted.

How to ship the goods after placing an order in 1688?

There are two situations for transportation

① Transport to China

If your delivery address is in China, it will generally be shipped within 24 hours after you place the order.

But if your order is large, you need to confirm with the seller through Aliwangwang. Most sellers work from Monday to Saturday.

After delivery, you can usually check the order number in the background to track the logistics.

If you are looking for an agent to purchase, you can ask your agent. Generally, if you are in China, you can receive the goods within 1-3 days after delivery.

② Transport to foreign countries

If your 1688 supplier has an international trade department, you can ask the supplier to arrange cross-border shipments for you.

If the factory is not involved in international trade, you need to find a freight forwarder in China to help you handle the shipment.

Recommended Reading: A complete guide to shipping from China (2021 Update) to learn more about shipping from China.

Are there any benefits for foreign buyers to buy from 1688?

For custom products

If you don’t need customized products, 1688 is a good choice. You can clearly see the price of the product, and this price is usually lower than that of Alibaba, and you can even bargain over the original price.

The trouble is payment and shipping issues.

For direct payment in 1688, you need a Chinese bank card or use Alipay business account 1688 for cross-border payment.

As for transportation, you have two options.

  • One is to directly ask the supplier to send the goods to your country, which requires you to communicate with the supplier.

This requires your supplier to speak English or you to speak Chinese. And some suppliers who do not do international trade may reject you because they don’t know anything about international transportation.

  • The second is that you can hire a freight forwarder in China and ask the supplier to send the goods to your forwarder, and then the forwarder is responsible for transporting your goods from China to your country.

Many buyers now find a 1688 agent in China to help you buy them from 1688. Usually these agents can accept multiple cross-border payment methods such as PayPal, TT, West Union, etc., and they understand international shipping. T

These agents can help buyers solve all a series of problems. Moreover, the price on 1688 is relatively transparent, so buyers don’t need to worry that they will make a huge price difference, but only need to pay them a purchase commission.

If you need customized products or packaging, the biggest benefit of 1688 for you is that you have a greater chance of finding a real product manufacturer.

How do I say this?

First of all, if you have custom requirements, you must communicate with the supplier.

  • If the 1688 supplier you find does not speak English, you will not be able to communicate on product requirements and other terms.
  • If your supplier speaks English, things will be easier. But usually suppliers who good at English have their own international trade department, and they also have their own shops in Alibaba.

And only suppliers with an international trade department can handle the issues of customization, payment and international shipping for you.

This is similar to finding a supplier from Alibaba. The only difference is that the supplier you find through 1688 is more likely to be a manufacturer.

Final thoughts

In short, when you have no custom requirements, it is feasible to purchase from 1688 by yourself or hire an agent.

When you have customized requirements for products or packaging, we do not recommend that you look for suppliers from 1688.

This will cost you a lot of time, and the supplier you eventually find is actually also on Alibaba.

If you want to find a real product manufacturer, there are many ways to help you.

If you want to find a China sourcing agent, you can contact us, With SourcingArts, You Don’t Have to Be an Sourcing Pro to Price Better And Genuine Manufacturer From China

Give me a shout in the comments below or on Facebook Group if you have any questions!

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