Unveiling the Differences Between 1688 and Alibaba

Alibaba caters to an international market, and their suppliers are experienced with exporting. Conversely, 1688’s primary focus is domestic Chinese market sales where product quality may vary drastically.

Alibaba supports more payment methods than 1688, such as credit cards, bank transfers and e-wallets like Alipay. Furthermore, they provide Trade Assurance as an extra safeguard for customers.


1688 is an online platform used by Chinese suppliers to sell domestically. Launched alongside Alibaba in 1999, 1688 quickly gained more traction due to being cheaper for sellers to use; consequently buyers can often find wider variety of goods even for similar product categories on 1688.

1688 has one major drawback, however: as it caters mainly to local markets, its suppliers lack foreign trade experience and may not meet international standards – this makes the selection on 1688 both hit-or-miss, with you potentially receiving premium quality items or cheaper knockoffs of what you desired.

Conversely, Alibaba merchants are used to dealing with customers from around the globe and are more likely to adhere to international standards; consequently, products on their sites tend to be of higher quality than those found on 1688.

One possible explanation for the variation in quality may be related to Chinese manufacturers lacking the capability or knowhow of exporting their products internationally, so they prefer using 1688 for local promotion and sales instead. This allows them to keep prices low while still realizing a significant return on their investments.

If you want to buy cheap products from China, AliExpress may be your better option, as you’ll avoid middleman fees that could add up quickly over time. Plus, communication between yourself and the supplier should be easier; something which would otherwise be impossible due to Alibaba’s language barrier and absence of English-speaking staff.

Local Expertise

1688 caters to domestic Chinese market sellers who can offer more cost-effective prices compared to Alibaba due to the absence of additional costs such as international shipping expenses for international buyers. This can be especially useful for smaller businesses searching for products on a tight budget.

Utilizing 1688 is also beneficial because it enables direct cooperation between US businesses and Chinese factories, making product development and testing simpler. Furthermore, many sellers on 1688 are factories themselves rather than wholesalers or trading companies; making this platform ideal for businesses interested in OEM services. To make sure they’re dealing with legit manufacturers it’s advisable to work with a sourcing agent who can help vet suppliers before engaging them directly.

Local sellers offer international buyers more insight into local business practices and customs, which is especially useful when visiting unfamiliar countries. Although 1688 does provide these advantages to buyers, some may experience challenges due to its local focus – quality variations or limited language support may arise, as could seller unfamiliarity with international shipping practices that could hamper cross-border transactions.

Both Alibaba and 1688 are cornerstones of e-commerce sourcing, each providing distinct advantages for global and local buyers alike. Which platform you ultimately select ultimately comes down to your individual needs and requirements; understanding their strengths, weaknesses and distinct offerings will enable you to make an informed decision that aligns with your sourcing objectives and business goals. With the insight provided herein this blog, it should help you better navigate these two platforms and make an effective choice.

Low Minimum Order Quantity (MOQ)

Alibaba is an international platform with access to numerous suppliers that serve international buyers, yet communicating with Chinese sellers may be challenging due to language and cultural differences. Furthermore, certain suppliers require minimum order quantities that may not suit small eCommerce sellers who may not meet them; 1688, on the other hand, provides significantly lower MOQs which allow small sellers to test out different products without making large financial commitments upfront.

Though 1688 does not boast as many sellers as Alibaba, it still provides an abundance of products at highly competitive prices for bulk orders – something many sellers find more convenient. Therefore, many prefer 1688 over Alibaba when sourcing goods.

1688 provides a wide variety of products, along with convenient payment methods like Alipay and online banking (for China-based bank accounts). Furthermore, multiple shipping options are also provided; however since 1688 is a local wholesale platform it does not support international shipments. If your goal is to ship them overseas you would require the assistance of a sourcing agent.

Importers face an important decision when selecting 1688 and Alibaba platforms as import suppliers. While each has unique strengths and weaknesses, ultimately it is up to you to decide which platform best meets your sourcing needs. No matter if your business is an established one looking to increase e-commerce sales or a start-up with limited experience in this arena; choosing an ideal supplier can have a dramatic effect on its success; carefully consider your requirements so that an informed decision can be made that will ultimately benefit both sides of your organization.

Easy to Use

Regarding user interface, both platforms are fairly intuitive to navigate and use; however, 1688’s primary language interface – Mandarin – may present difficulty for buyers unfamiliar with Chinese. Alibaba, by contrast, was designed with international audiences in mind and offers multiple language interfaces, including English to help break down language barriers and facilitate smooth communication between sellers and buyers.

Alibaba stands out from 1688 by having an established international shipping infrastructure, enabling buyers to source products directly from suppliers in China and have them shipped directly to their warehouse or store worldwide. In contrast, shipping options on 1688 can be limited and confusing for international businesses.

Both platforms provide excellent resources to small to medium-sized businesses looking for products from China, with Alibaba particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs new to sourcing requiring assistance in navigating the Chinese market and clearing customs. Alibaba also has more resources dedicated to importation and clearing customs duties – making it the better choice for novice business owners.

1688 can also provide experienced importers and business owners with cost-effective sourcing solutions, though its minimum order quantity may be slightly higher than Alibaba; prices can still be negotiated and its focus lies more within local markets.

Customer Service

Alibaba was designed for international customer bases, so it features systems to verify sellers and offer services like Trade Assurance. 1688’s domestic Chinese market focus means it doesn’t provide those same safeguards and may make it more difficult to gain an accurate picture of what you’re purchasing; increasing the chance that a product might look different than it did online or contain significant quality issues.

Furthermore, the website is solely in Chinese and may be difficult to navigate for those without fluency in that language. While translation tools exist for the platform, these may not accurately translate product details or descriptions and may not provide as complete of an experience as human translators would do.

Another challenge faced by small businesses or individuals shopping on Alibaba is their requirement of a minimum order quantity for products sold there, which may make purchasing from 1688 more attractive for buyers wishing to maximize profit margins.

Both platforms are safe to use and feature systems designed to detect fraudulent or dishonest sellers; however, Alibaba’s verification process may reduce your risk of purchasing low-quality or counterfeit products.

Both platforms accept payments via international methods such as Alipay, although 1688 lacks Alibaba’s Trade Assurance service. That can present challenges for international buyers; EJET Sourcing can assist by acting as your buying agent on both platforms while helping navigate through any legalities associated with doing business in China.