1688 vs Alibaba , Which is better for importing from china


Many Chinese online platforms provide so many options that making a choice can be tricky.

There are many interesting marketplaces in China where you can order electronics, clothing, and other 3rd party goods.

During this article, we’ll take a closer look at buy from Alibaba and buying from 1688 site.

We will also figure out what is profitable to buy on Alibaba and in what cases it is better to choose 1688.

1688 vs Alibaba

What is 1688.com

Founded in 1999, 1688.Com is an online marketplace for B2B companies in China. This store is not familiar to most of our fellow citizens for this single reason. Most of the suppliers and sellers of the site are Chinese, and the store itself is focused on the domestic market.

The site 1688.com is one of the official services of the Alibaba Group. The concept was to help Chinese businessmen to wholesale their products within the country. Yes, the main feature of the store is wholesale purchases of everything in the world at very low prices. 1688 is a fantastic procurement site that provides some of the lowest prices around. It is China’s biggest shopping portal and most comprehensive business platform. The manufacturer’s site is closer and covers an array of topics, including:

  • Industrial equipment
  • Supplies of raw materials
  • Department shops for home
  • Apparel
  • Smallgoods
  • Supply services

1.Pros of 1688.com

The Hidden Gems

An only a small percentage of registered businesses are listed on alibaba.com. If you have access to 1688, you’ll be able to get good suppliers that your competitors don’t have. There are a variety of reasons why these suppliers choosing not to be on the world’s largest B2B platform:

1) They have factories on the mainland that they don’t need to look for clients elsewhere.

2) They do not have any English-speaking employees.

3) They don’t have an export license. This does not imply that all providers use only these platforms. Some do not use either and are doing perfectly.

Lower prices

Anyone looking to cut down on their shopping or purchasing costs will directly see the benefits of shopping on 1688.com. And now everyone can do it without knowing the Chinese language. Wholesale on the site 1688 is available almost 30% cheaper than other Chinese trading platforms, for example, the same Alibaba.

Fast Responses 

The 1688.com mobile app is a fantastic responsive software that is far superior to its international equivalent. There is no English assistance, which is the main drawback. The reason is that the labour costs are low. Still, most suppliers have a group of salespeople on high alert and ready to reply in seconds. If you are planning to buy from 1688, then you can expect a fast response.

Great for Sub-suppliers and Complex Projects

1688.com might be a fantastic alternative if you’re in charge of a more sophisticated sourcing process with several sub-suppliers shipping semi-finished items to the same assembly address.

In most cases, 1688.com can resolve problems by taking orders from a fellow domestic manufacturer.

Transaction Protection 

There are various transaction protection systems available on the site. So, when ordering goods here, you do not have to worry about the security of the transferred funds.

2.Cons of 1688.com

No English Support

Some suppliers speak very little English, and it can be hard to locate them. It is preferable to have a native speaker who interprets for you if you don’t know the language. The ideal solution is to have a Mandarin-speaking person in your team, but you may also hire a translator or a sourcing agency. Using translation applications is the worst.


Domestic suppliers deal with domestic payment methods. It includes domestic bank transfers, cash, Alipay, or WeChat. Whether in USD, EUR, or any other currency, receiving money from outside may be difficult for Chinese vendors. Using local payment as an overseas buyer, on the other hand, is inconvenient for global buyers. And there is no Paypal support!

Missing Export License

Most of the domestic suppliers hesitate to deal with international buyers. They don’t ready to acquire an export license. If some sellers agree to supply to the international buyer, then still some obstacles occur. Mostly they refuse to deal with small orders.

Lack of International Client experience

To deal with global customers, Chinese suppliers face many unavoidable obstacles and unknown risks. Among them, INCOTERMS and the formalities of international contracts are generally unknown.

Lower Quality

International suppliers are aware that quality demands are greater when exporting overseas. The situation is different in the local market, where you may get both extremely high and very low-quality items.

What is Alibaba.com?

Alibaba.com is one of the most famous Chinese online marketplaces. For the most part, on Alibaba, you can buy retail or wholesale goods from manufacturers from China. But there are also offers from companies from Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and India.

Alibaba is the world’s largest marketplace. The vendors in this area are reliable. It is a supplier verification program that secures payments through its payment platform. One of its main advantages is the convenience of Trade Assurance’s payment choices. Payment options include PayPal, credit cards, and financing options for US residents.


1.Pros of Alibaba.com 


It is simple to choose and buy the products you like through Alibaba. The site interface is adapted for English, so the search for goods does not cause any particular difficulties. The quality of the translation is not always at the highest level. You can understand the essence of product descriptions and their characteristics.


You can pay for your sale using one of the available payment systems. The specific list of possible payment options depends on the seller. However, Visa, MasterCard, TT, e-Checking, Western Union, MoneyGram are available as a rule. You can use Alipay to make secure payments.

Customer Support

Alibaba.com offers exceptional customer service in comparison to local sites. A vendor must pay several thousand dollars a year to become a registered vendor. Only authentic suppliers’ information can be posted when a vendor registers with us. Most accounts employ English-speaking personnel who frequently work in shifts to cover many time zones.


A provider with considerable experience dealing with foreign customers understands what quality is acceptable and what is not. On average, the quality on Alibaba.com is a couple of notches greater than on local marketplaces. Naturally, the manufacturing cost and sales price reflect this.

Amazon Experience

Many Alibaba dealers have most of their customers selling their products under a private label on Amazon’s FBA service. These producers are familiar with Amazon’s unique shipping needs, such as labeling methods and packaging guidelines.

2.Cons of alibaba.com

Poor Transaction Protection

One of the features that differentiate a marketplace from an online bulletin board is a transaction protection mechanism. It seems to be present at Alibaba. But as soon as a disputable situation arises, the buyer quickly becomes convinced that this protection exists only formally. In reality, getting your way there is almost unrealistic.


Alibaba focused on foreigners. Therefore, the prices for it are overpriced in comparison with others. Another reason why prices are higher on Alibaba is that the vast majority of sellers represented there are intermediaries. There are practically no manufacturers there.

Intransparent Pricing

The majority of the prices and minimum order quantities (MOQs) provided in the search results are merely tricks to catch a client’s attention. You will get a true quotation only after contacting the provider and exchanging many messages. When comparing costs, this may be inconvenient and time-consuming.

High Minimum Order Quantities(MOQs)

Frequently, suppliers may want additional MOQs since selling overseas isn’t worth it if the order quantity doesn’t cover the startup expenditures. It’s also possible that Chinese suppliers would charge international customers greater MOQs than domestic customers. MOQs, on the other hand, are not set in stone; most suppliers are prepared to reduce them significantly if the price is lowered.

Trading Companies

Many trading companies may disguise themselves as suppliers and expose their actual identity only after a thorough inquiry. Trade firms are easily identified by the name “trading” in their account name. Others may be the true producers of, say, “Item A,” but will sell you “Item B” without informing you that it is made by someone else. In any scenario, a factory is the only option.

Bad User Interface

In comparison to 1688.com, Alibaba.com’s desktop and mobile versions are both disorganized. And its messaging app is quite bad and obsolete.

Similarities Between 1688.com and Alibaba.com

While these platforms are built on distinct business strategies and have significant differences, they also have many common things. They combine to become the world’s most effective eCommerce conglomerate. There are some similarities between the two platforms listed below

  • The Alibaba Group owns both of these platforms.
  • On both sites, you may discover high-quality items at reasonable prices.
  • Both systems offer easy-to-use interfaces, and the entire purchasing procedure is straightforward.
  • Both sites provide buyer security for payments made directly on their platforms.

Different Features of Alibaba vs 1688

Alibaba serves customers worldwide, whereas 1688 is primarily focused on the local Chinese market.

  • When you utilize the Alibaba platform, you may navigate it in English. The homepage may also be translated into French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Hindi, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, Arabic, and Hebrew.
  • VISA, Mastercard, Western Union, and bank transfer are foreign payment options available on Alibaba. 1688.com, on the other hand, speaks Chinese since it caters to domestic clients. You can pay with WeChat Pay, Alipay, and credit cards from Chinese banks.
  • While 1688 agents provides local Chinese pricing, Alibaba’s prices rise for international consumers. If you want to undercut market prices, you must source your business items where the locals are sourcing. That is 1688’s primary edge versus Alibaba.

The Difference in Shipping Method Between 1688 and Alibaba

China was the birthplace of dropshipping. For those new to the industry, there are four main websites operated by Alibaba. Alibaba International Station, 1688, Aliexpress, and Taobao are all part of it. In terms of dropshipping, we’ll compare Alibaba and 1688.

Reviews in Dropshipping from Alibaba

Alibaba is similar to 1688, and it caters to a global audience. The Chinese manufacturers account for half of the total, while foreign trade services account for the other half. The price is likewise low, but you must satisfy specific minimum order quantities. Because production time is required, this is best suited for large enterprises with a large inventory, but it is not ideal for dropshipping.

Reviews in Dropshipping from 1688

Because 1688 does not support English, it may be difficult to browse for products and read product reviews. For dropshipping specifics, communication with suppliers may take some time. With more options to choose from, you’ll be able to find what you’re looking for. For your dropshipping business, the prices are lower. You may compare the texture and quality. In this manner, you can save time in the event of a return or a quality disagreement.

Because foreign payment methods such as MasterCard, Visa Card, or international bank transfer are not supported, you will need to pay for the products through an agent. Your agent can also assist you in combining numerous goods from different vendors into a single order. Because you must pay for the agency fee, goods, and local and international shipping, the cost of dropshipping is greater.

The advantage of 1688 dropshipping, however, is the wholesale pricing of higher-quality items. With your improved shopping experience in 1688, you may expand your business over time. Overall, 1688 dropshipping is better for a company that wishes to have a private label marketing plan.

How to find the best Chinese Sourcing Agents

It’s critical to seek out and engage with the proper sourcing agency or firm. They have a lot of expertise assisting you with the sourcing process. A reputable sourcing firm can help you avoid unnecessary stress. You can delegate product procurement to your sourcing agent so that you can focus on growing your business. It is his responsibility to give you a list of the top vendors.

You don’t have to be concerned about the cultural and language barrier, as well as the hassles of vetting suppliers, factory audits, quality control, shipping, and logistics. From product sourcing to delivery, sourcing agencies are in charge of international sales and can provide you with the best pricing for your important items.


Here are some traits to look for while looking for the finest sourcing agents in China:

Trustworthy in Business

The best sourcing agency works for a long-established company that knows what it is doing. You should only consider those with experience, expertise, trade knowledge, etc.

Provides Good Customer Rating and Review 

If the sourcing agent has prior expertise in sourcing items, consumer ratings and reviews must be provided. Hence, sourcing agents with good ratings and reviews possess a great professionalism.

Communicates Well and Responds in Timely Manner

To begin, you should determine whether or not the sourcing agent was in communication with you. To avoid communication lapses in the middle of a transaction, he must be conversant in Chinese and English. Unless you have plenty of time, it is impossible to wait for a response from the sourcing agent. You expect him to handle all communications between you and the supplier.

Complete in Business Registration

If you don’t want your business to be at risk, be sure your sourcing agent is authorized to conduct business. Verify the sourcing agent’s legitimacy by looking at their business registration, license, and other required paperwork.

Can Filter the Best Supplier for Your Business

If the sourcing agent has previously worked with several customers, he will give you a list of the top suppliers in no time. He should have a big network of reliable suppliers that can provide the best items for your company’s requirements.

How does Leeline Sourcing help you import from China?

Leeline Sourcing Company has ten years of experience in the Chinese sourcing market. Leeline Company can’t charge a fee until the client chooses a supplier. Leeline sourcing keeps everything under control, which is yet another incredible feature. It eliminates all supplier problems. The company offers excellent services that are hard to find these days. All imports are observed, including large, medium, and small ones.

When it comes to sourcing problems, Leeline is the best solution. Their response time is instant, and their product conditions are highly regarded. Leeline Sourcing offers comprehensive solutions to all kinds of problems. They will help you fix any issues during your order using their communication. You can find the best Chinese suppliers by using the Leeline sourcing service. They offer Amazon FBA services to their customers. So it is not an unusual company because it supports all types of business imports with its open motive.

FAQs about Alibaba vs 1688

1.1688 vs Alibaba: which is a more recommended platform?

Which platform is better, Alibaba or 1688? It all relies on how well-equipped you are for trade. As you may be aware, Alibaba caters to foreign consumers and is capable of handling international trades. If you’re looking for a bargain, 1688 may be the greatest option.

Many 1688 goods are available at manufacturer-direct prices. There are about 50,000 small and medium-size businesses selling through Amazon, eBay, AliExpress, etc. More first-hand materials are available, but if you don’t speak Chinese and don’t have an agent working for you, it will be difficult. Only Chinese banks account holders, and Alipay account holders can purchase from 1688.

2.Which platform is safer to use to buy products from China: 1688 or Alibaba?

In terms of being a secure platform, Alibaba and 1688 are both secure. All of the providers of the goods have been vetted and are eligible to sell. The following items are included in the risk and safety section:

  • Your relationship with the suppliers
  • The quality of your research
  • Comparison of best suppliers from the list provided
  • how effectively you understand from sourcing products to shipment process
  • how well you work with a reliable sourcing agent, etc.

3.Alibaba vs 1688: Which has less complicated shipping?

Alibaba is the less difficult option in terms of shipping when compared to 1688. This is especially true if you do not use a sourcing agency because 1688 requires a Chinese address or warehouse. You only need to fill out the shipping information for Alibaba, and the supplier will ship your products to your location. FedEx, DHL, or UPS are the shipping options. No duty fee is charged on shipments worth less than $800.

Alibaba air shipments might take anywhere from 3 to 10 business days. If you choose sea freight, delivery might take anywhere from 30 to 45 days.

4.Is there an option similar to Alibaba Trade Assurance offered by 1688?

Unlike Alibaba, where you may use Trade Assurance to avoid being cheated, the best method to purchase from 1688 is to find a sourcing agent. It is highly suggested if you are looking for reliable providers.

5.Is there a 1688 website in English?

There is no English version of 1688 agent. However, to translate the web page, you must use the Google Chrome browser. You may either add the Google Translate plugin to your Google Chrome browser or click the right button and select “translate to English.”

Please notice that there is a vacant middle section when translating the website into English. Don’t worry; you can still follow along with the instructions. If you’re still having trouble understanding the website, it’s best to get it translated by someone who speaks Chinese well.

6.Is an import license required to buy goods from China?

Importing products does not usually necessitate the acquisition of a license. Your Licensed Customs Broker can assist you in navigating the procedure and ensuring compliance. Import and export rules and regulations in the United States are among the things to be aware of.

7.Is Alibaba safe to buy from?

Buying from Alibaba is a completely secure online site to use when looking for items to sell online, as long as you know which suppliers to trust and which to avoid.

8.How much is customs duty from China?

The VAT rate is 20%. You must pay 20% VAT if you purchase products from an internet shop in another country. Customs charge, for example, 10% -12% on bags and shoes. Furthermore, products priced at £135 or higher are subject to customs tax.

Final Thoughts on 1688 vs Alibaba

There is no clear winner here because both platforms serve a different purpose and cater to unique types of customers. Alibaba is clearly the best option for novices with lower order amounts and less expertise. The availability of English support and a friendly atmosphere for international trade will greatly improve the sourcing process.

The 1688 program is intended for people who have experience with Chinese sourcing and wish to make their products more competitive. Small and medium-sized businesses can also find dependable Chinese suppliers and save time and money by sourcing from China. In contrast, Bying from Alibaba is a great choice for novices with modest order amounts. The English support and expertise in dealing with foreign clientele will help transactions go more smoothly.

To get the best items for your company, you need to make sure you are dealing with the right vendors. For effective product sourcing from China, you’ll need adequate expertise, tools, resources, and the finest sourcing agents. Leeline is one of the best sources of goods at reasonable prices in China. Leeline provides quality control services and product inspections to companies. Therefore, don’t wait to source your high-quality products with Leeline Sourcing.

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Article by:

Sharline Shaw

Hey I'm Sharline, the founder of Leeline Sourcing. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, we help 2000+ clients import from China,Alibaba,1688 to Amazon FBA or shopify. If you have any questions about sourcing , pls feel free to contact us.

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