The Comprehensive Guide to 1688: China’s Wholesale Marketplace

Photo of author
Written By Sharline

Sharline is an expert on Chinese export trade. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, she is familiar with all relevant regulations and laws about China's exporting. She loves to share her experiences with people and has written many helpful articles.

If you’re in the business of sourcing products for resale or simply looking for unique items at wholesale prices, you’ve likely heard of 1688. Often described as “Alibaba’s little sister,” is China’s largest wholesale marketplace, offering a vast array of products at competitive prices. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about 1688, from what it is and how it works to tips for successful sourcing and navigating potential challenges.

Introduction to 1688 is a prominent online wholesale marketplace, part of the Alibaba Group, primarily serving the Chinese market. Launched in 2003, it has become a go-to platform for individuals and businesses looking to source products directly from Chinese manufacturers, wholesalers, and suppliers. Unlike, which primarily caters to international buyers and sellers, 1688 focuses on domestic and international businesses sourcing products within China.

The name “1688” is derived from the Chinese word for “business” (生意, shēngyì), signifying prosperity and wealth.

How Does 1688 Work?

Understanding how 1688 operates is essential for successful sourcing. Here’s a simplified overview of the platform’s functioning:

  • Suppliers: 1688 hosts a diverse array of suppliers, including manufacturers, wholesalers, and trading companies, offering a wide range of products.
  • Buyers: Buyers on 1688 can be individuals or businesses seeking to purchase products in bulk or at wholesale prices.
  • Product Listings: Suppliers create detailed listings for their products, including product descriptions, images, prices, and minimum order quantities (MOQs).
  • Search and Discovery: Buyers utilize 1688’s search and filtering tools to explore products matching their requirements and interests.
  • Communication: The platform facilitates direct communication between buyers and suppliers, enabling inquiries about products, negotiations, and clarification of terms.
  • Orders: When a buyer decides to make a purchase, they place an order through the platform.
  • Payment: Payments are typically made directly to the supplier, although some transactions may involve Alibaba’s secure payment system, Alipay.
  • Logistics: Shipping and delivery arrangements are agreed upon between the buyer and the supplier, with various shipping options available.

Why Choose 1688?

Several compelling reasons make 1688 an attractive choice for sourcing products:

Competitive Pricing:

1688 is renowned for offering highly competitive prices. As a wholesale marketplace catering to the Chinese market, you often find products at lower prices compared to other platforms.

Extensive Product Range:

The platform boasts a vast and diverse array of products across numerous categories. Whether you’re searching for consumer goods, industrial equipment, electronics, fashion items, or raw materials, 1688 is likely to have it all.

Direct Access to Manufacturers:

Many suppliers on 1688 are manufacturers themselves. This direct access can translate into cost savings, improved quality control, and the potential for customizing products to meet your specific needs.

Bulk Purchasing Opportunities:

For businesses looking to buy in bulk, 1688 is an ideal choice. Suppliers often set minimum order quantities (MOQs), which can be advantageous for stocking inventory.

Potential for Unique Products:

One of 1688’s strengths is the potential to discover unique and innovative products that might not be as readily available on other platforms.

Searching for Products

1688 offers robust search capabilities to help you find the products you need. Here’s how to effectively search for products on the platform:

  • Keyword Search: Use the search bar at the top of the page to enter relevant keywords related to the product you’re looking for. For example, if you’re interested in “smartphones,” enter that term and hit “搜索” (search).
  • Category Filters: On the homepage, you’ll find various product categories. Clicking on a category will take you to a page where you can further refine your search.
  • Product Attributes: To narrow down your search, use filters such as product attributes (e.g., brand, model, size, color), price range, and minimum order quantity (MOQ).
  • Sorting Options: Sort search results by factors like price, supplier rating, or transaction level to find the most suitable listings.
  • Advanced Search: If you have specific requirements, use the advanced search option for more precise filtering.
  • Saved Searches: You can save your favorite searches for quick access in the future.

Evaluating Suppliers

Selecting the right supplier is critical to a successful sourcing experience in 1688. Consider the following factors when evaluating suppliers:

  • Supplier Information: Review the supplier’s profile, including their company information, contact details, and certifications.
  • Transaction History: Check the supplier’s transaction history to gauge their experience and reliability.
  • Ratings and Reviews: Suppliers are often rated by previous buyers. Read reviews and ratings to get insights into their performance and customer satisfaction.
  • Response Time: Send inquiries to suppliers and assess their response time and willingness to address your questions.
  • Communication: Effective communication is key. Ensure you can communicate with the supplier in a language you’re comfortable with.
  • MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity): Verify the supplier’s MOQ to ensure it aligns with your purchasing needs.

Communicating with Suppliers

Clear and effective communication with suppliers is crucial. Here are some tips for successful communication:

  • Use a Professional Tone: Maintain a professional and courteous tone in your messages.
  • Ask Detailed Questions: Be specific about your requirements and expectations.
  • Request Samples: If feasible, ask for product samples to assess quality before placing bulk orders.
  • Negotiate Terms: Don’t hesitate to negotiate terms, including pricing, MOQ, and payment options.
  • Clarify Payment Methods: Confirm the accepted payment methods and terms with the supplier.
  • Discuss Shipping: Address shipping and delivery details, including shipping methods, costs, and timelines.
  • Keep Records: Maintain records of all communications for future reference.

Payment Methods

Payment methods on 1688 can vary depending on the supplier and the terms you negotiate. Common payment methods include:

  • Bank Transfer: Suppliers may provide you with their bank account details for a direct bank transfer. Ensure the bank information is accurate and reliable.
  • Alipay: Alipay is a secure online payment platform commonly used for transactions in 1688. It offers buyer protection and can be a convenient way to make payments.
  • Escrow Services: Some transactions may use an escrow service where your payment is held securely until you receive the products and confirm they meet your expectations.
  • Letter of Credit (LC): LC is a financial instrument that can be used for larger transactions, providing security for both the buyer and the supplier.

It’s essential to discuss payment methods and terms with the supplier and choose a method that aligns with your preferences and provides adequate security.

Shipping and Logistics

Shipping and logistics are critical aspects of the sourcing process. Here’s what you need to consider:

  • Shipping Methods: Discuss shipping methods with the supplier. Options may include air freight, sea freight, courier services, or land transport, depending on the nature of the products and your location.
  • Shipping Costs: Clarify shipping costs, including any import duties or taxes, and ensure they align with your budget.
  • Shipping Timelines: Discuss delivery timelines and any potential delays that may arise.
  • Packaging: Confirm packaging methods to ensure products are protected during transit.
  • Customs Clearance: Understand the customs clearance process and requirements in your country.
  • Tracking: Obtain a tracking number to monitor the shipment’s progress and delivery.


Whether you’re a seasoned importer or new to the world of international sourcing, 1688 can be a gateway to a world of business opportunities and unique products, all at wholesale prices.