How to Source Products from 1688?

One advantage of sourcing products from a China-based marketplace is direct access to manufacturers. This allows you to buy products at very low prices and expand your profit margin. It's no surprise that platforms like Alibaba, AliExpress, and DHGate are popular sources for many successful sellers on Amazon, eBay, and other Western marketplaces.


In this guide, we'll cover yet another platform worth exploring if you're a reseller or wholesaler: Unlike other China-based platforms, however, 1688 focuses on the domestic market. It caters to local manufacturers, traders, and consumers. 


Does that mean you can't buy products from 1688 if you're not in China? 


Of course, you can, but unlike Alibaba or AliExpress, which cater to international buyers, you'll face some unique challenges. One such challenge is the sellers' capability to ship internationally. Because they primarily serve local customers, they may lack the necessary licenses and logistics to ship to your location and may require a substantial minimum order quantity (MOQ).


Additionally, there is a language barrier. The website's content is predominantly in Chinese. Although it provides partial English translations, navigating essential pages remains tricky for non-Chinese speakers. Key elements like product listings and categories are translated into English, but for the rest, you'll need to use tools such as Google Translate, DeepL, or Microsoft Translator.


Tip: Use translation tools with caution, as they are not always 100% accurate. You may need a human translator's help to ensure you're not mistranslating crucial terms on the platform.


Is 1688 safe? is part of the globally recognized Alibaba Group. One thing we know about this conglomerate is that it takes buyer safety seriously. Thus, it's safe to say that 1688 is safe for buyers, especially those in China. However, as with any large online marketplace, there are risks, particularly for international buyers and those new to the platform. Here are some tips to ensure safety when using


  • While does verify suppliers to a certain extent, the standards and processes are primarily tailored for the domestic Chinese market. Users should conduct their own due diligence by reviewing supplier profiles, checking reviews, and verifying business licenses.


  • Since the platform and most of its support services are in Chinese, non-Chinese speakers face a higher risk of miscommunication or misunderstanding. Hiring a reliable translator or agent can help mitigate these risks.


  • Payments made through the platform are generally secure, particularly when using Alibaba's integrated payment systems. However, users should exercise caution when using direct bank transfers or other less secure payment methods.


  • Product quality can vary significantly among suppliers. It is advisable to request samples before placing large orders and, if possible, to employ quality control services to inspect the goods before shipment.


  • For international buyers, ensuring that products comply with export and import regulations, as well as international standards, can be challenging. Working with experienced import/export agents can help navigate these complexities.


  • Handling shipping from China can be complex, especially for international orders. Buyers should either familiarize themselves with the logistics involved or work with a logistics provider that can manage international shipping and customs clearance.


How to Source Products from 1688


Here's a step-by-step guide to buying products on 1688 from outside China.


Step 1: Translate 1688 to English.


Visit Google and search for "Google Translate Chrome Extension." Select the most relevant result and click "Add to Chrome." This extension can only be added if you are using Google Chrome. Once added, a popup message will appear in the top right corner of your screen confirming the installation.


Open The website's text should now be translated into English. If it remains in Chinese, click the Google Translate Extension icon and select "Translate this page." Alternatively, you can right-click anywhere on the page and choose "Translate to English."


Tip: To toggle easily between Chinese and English, click the Google Translate Extension again. If you prefer to have 1688 always translated into English, check the option that says "Always Translate Chinese (Simplified)."


Step 2: Create an account.


Until recently, international buyers could not create an account on 1688 unless they had a passport or valid ID issued in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Taiwan, or South Korea. Now, the platform accommodates users from 136 countries.


To create an account, visit and navigate to the registration page. Make sure your Google Translate Extension is activated. Fill in all the required information and verify your account. Although account verification is optional, we recommend completing it to enjoy several benefits, including the ability to unfreeze your account without contacting customer support if it becomes frozen due to a violation.


Additionally, 1688 is linked with, another China-based e-commerce platform. If you have an account on Taobao, you can access 1688 and vice versa.


Step 3: Search for the product you want to buy.


Suppose you already know what you want to buy. There are three ways to search for it on 1688. The first method involves uploading an image of the product to the platform. However, this approach can yield many irrelevant results, as the system searches for products with a similar shape or design. For example, if you upload an image of bottled water, the system might display all items in bottles of similar dimensions.


Another method is to simply type the product name into the search bar and press "Search." Here's a helpful tip for keyword searches: instead of using the English version of your keyword, translate it into Chinese first. This will produce more relevant results, as the system is optimized to recognize Chinese characters.


Step 4: Evaluate matching listings.


Once you've found listings that match your criteria, begin evaluating them to narrow your choices further. Remember that the prices shown are not final; they can change based on your negotiations with the seller. 


The displayed price is typically the lowest offer, based on a specific minimum order quantity (MOQ). If you plan to buy less than the MOQ, expect the price to increase. Essentially, the best way to secure a lower price is to order quantities above the MOQ.


Another important consideration is that the products listed may not always be in stock. Unless sellers update their listings regularly, 1688 will continue to display them. Therefore, it's crucial to contact the suppliers before placing an order. When reaching out, inquire about everything you need to know, including the actual price, payment methods, logistics, and more.


Step 5: Evaluate the supplier. 


You'll encounter three types of suppliers on 1688: manufacturers, traders, and scammers. Manufacturers produce the products and sell them directly to you. Traders purchase products from manufacturers and then sell them to you. Scammers, on the other hand, neither make nor sell quality products.


Clearly, you should avoid scams. Unfortunately, they exist even on secure platforms like 1688. Here are some signs that indicate you might be dealing with a scammer:


  • Unusually low prices
  • Lack of business information
  • Poor communication
  • No or fake customer reviews
  • Requests for unusual payment methods
  • No samples or high fees for samples
  • Pressure tactics
  • Changes in agreed terms


Traders, while legitimate, are not the ideal partners for businesses seeking the best deals. Remember, you turned to 1688 to connect directly with manufacturers and secure excellent prices. If you're considering working with a middleman, you might as well stick to platforms like eBay or AliExpress.


Focus exclusively on listings from manufacturers and engage only with those who have been in business for over three years. Manufacturers with only one or two years in operation might lack the capacity to meet your supply needs or could potentially be fraudulent. Here are some indicators that you are dealing with a genuine manufacturer:


  • A detailed company profile, including their machinery, staff numbers, and factory size
  • Specializing in a particular product type rather than offering a wide variety of unrelated items
  • Industry-specific certifications that indicate they operate a manufacturing facility
  • Competitive pricing due to the absence of middlemen
  • High minimum order quantities
  • Images or videos of their production facilities, not an office with a few workers
  • Ability to customize products according to the buyer's specifications
  • Longer lead times, encompassing production scheduling, manufacturing, and packaging 
  • Direct communication about product capabilities, modifications, and production processes
  • Participation in trade shows, whether they showcase their products


Step 6: Contact the seller and buy the product.


Return to the product page and scroll until you find the supplier's details. On the left, you'll find a box that contains the supplier's basic information. You'll also find a "contact seller" button, indicated by a blue bouncing icon next to the supplier's name. Only buyers with a registered account can use this button to contact a seller.


When you contact a seller, provide as many details about your order as possible. Specify the color, dimensions, material, style, and quantity. Always assume that the seller doesn't have a translation tool to translate your message into Mandarin, so take the initiative and translate your message for them.


Ask the supplier if they offer Trade Assurance for payment. This feature, which allows 1688 to hold onto your payment until you're satisfied with the product quality, is built into the platform, similar to Alibaba. You can ask them to send you samples, or you can hire an inspection company to inspect the products for you. Once you're satisfied, you can release the payment.


After paying, all you need to do is wait for your products to be shipped to your location. Unless the supplier offers to handle the logistics, you must make all the arrangements yourself. Remember that you're working with a manufacturer primarily catering to local consumers. Many of them aren't geared for import-export.


Expand Your Product Line and Profitability with Products from 1688


Sourcing products from 1688 offers many benefits, including access to lower prices and direct connections with manufacturers. While the platform may present challenges, such as language barriers and the need for meticulous supplier verification, the potential for expanding your product offerings and increasing profit margins is significant.


Equip yourself with the right tools and knowledge, perhaps even by partnering with a local agent, to navigate the complexities of effectively. With thoughtful preparation and strategic planning, 1688 can become a vital resource for diversifying your sourcing strategy and securing competitive advantages in your market.