Which one is better in 1688 vs Alibaba?

Many Chinese online platforms provide so many options that making a choice can be tricky. There is not a simple answer, but it needs a detailed comparison. Our Alibaba expert has compiled this comparison to understand Alibaba alternatives. You get a backup outsourcing option as a business owner.

Alibaba has more international suppliers and better English support. Yet 1688 has low prices with local suppliers, and most don’t understand English. You need to hire a local sourcing agent for quality inspection and negotiation for 1688.

What is 1688.com

Founded in 1999, 1688.Com is an online marketplace for B2B companies in China. This seller’s 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. The store itself focuses on the China’s domestic market. Chinese businessmen with export licenses work here. The site 1688.com is one of the official services of the Alibaba Group. The concept was to help Chinese businesspeople wholesale their products within the country. 1688 is a fantastic procurement site that provides some of the lowest local Chinese prices. It is China’s most comprehensive 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

Only a tiny percentage of registered businesses are listed on alibaba.com. If you have access to 1688, you’ll be able to find 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 worldwide 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 shopping or purchasing costs will see the benefits of shopping on 1688. com. And now everyone can do it without knowing the Chinese language. Wholesale on site 1688 is almost 30% cheaper than other Chinese trading platforms, such as the same Alibaba. The products by 1688 have cheaper price. That is because more factories direct supply their products instead of trading companies.

Fast Responses

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

Great for Sub-suppliers and Complex Projects

1688.com might be the best 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. 1688.com can resolve problems by taking orders from a fellow domestic manufacturer or domestic market.

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 decent suppliers speak very little English, and it can be hard to locate them. It is preferable to have a native speaker who interprets 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. If you don’t speak Chinese, then better not use a translation app.


Domestic suppliers deal with domestic payment methods for overseas buyers. It includes domestic bank transfers, cash, Alipay, or WeChat. Receiving foreign currency from outside may be difficult for Chinese vendors. Using local payment as an overseas buyer is inconvenient for global domestic buyers. And there is no Paypal support!

Missing Export Licenses

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

Lack of International Client experience

Suppliers face many unavoidable obstacles in dealing with foreign customers. 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 high and very low-quality items.

What is Alibaba.com

Alibaba.com is one of the most famous online Chinese market and the largest wholesale website. 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 international business trade website. 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 hot-selling products on 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 Alibaba 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 dealing with foreign customers understands what quality is acceptable and not. On average, the rate on Alibaba.com is a couple of notches greater than on the local market. 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. For Example, labeling methods and packaging guidelines.

2. Cons of alibaba.com

Poor Transaction Protection

An online bulletin board is a transaction protection mechanism. It seems to be present at Alibaba. The buyer becomes convinced that this protection exists only. 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 most sellers represented are intermediaries. There are practically no manufacturers there.

Intransparent Pricing

Minimum order quantities (MOQs) provided in the search results are for foreign clients’ attention. You will get a proper quotation only after contacting the provider. When comparing costs, this may be inconvenient and time-consuming.

High Minimum Order Quantities(MOQs)

Suppliers may want extra MOQs since selling overseas isn’t worth it. Only 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, are not set in stone. Many suppliers can prepare to reduce them if lower prices are offered.

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 “trading” in their account name. Others may be the authentic producers of “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

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

Similarities Between 1688.com and Alibaba.com

These platforms are based on distinct business strategies. 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. On both platforms, I have not faced major quality issues to this date.
  • Both systems offer easy-to-use interfaces, and the entire purchasing procedure is straightforward.
  • Both local sites provide buyer security for payment methods made directly on their platforms. So I feel safe on both sites without any tension.

Different Features of Alibaba vs. 1688

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

Multilingual Support

When using the Alibaba platform, you may navigate it in English from the Chinese language. The homepage may also be translated into French, German, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Hindi, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Turkish, Indonesian, Portuguese, Japanese, Dutch, Arabic, and Hebrew. Only the Chinese language is available on 1688.com international market. It adds extra trouble for me. But my local agent manages all of these things, so not much hassle.

International Payment Methods

VISA, Mastercard, Western Union, and bank transfer are foreign payment methods available on Alibaba. The 1688.com speaks only Chinese language since it caters to domestic clients and domestic market. You can pay with WeChat Pay, Alipay, and credit cards from Chinese banks. Bank transfer provides a facility on company address.

Affordable/ Cost-Effective

1688.com agents provide Chinese local prices to international buyers. Alibaba’s prices rise for global consumers. That’s why my sourcing from 1688 is always cheaper than Alibaba. To undercut domestic market prices, you must source your business items where the locals are sourcing. That is the primary edge of 1688.com versus Alibaba group because of its very affordable price.

The Differences in Shipping Method

Alibaba Shiping Methods

Alibaba is considered to have extensive international shipping options, including Express and Packet and Air and Ocean freight. Most suppliers prefer UPS, FedEx, TNT, or DHL methods. Courier service is the most expensive, but sea freight is the cheapest. In my opinion, You should add protective layers for sensitive products for sea shipping. My whole shipment faced some minor damages due to rough sea freight.

1688 Shipping Methods

1688 offers the possibility for the seller to choose his shipping method (Usually, it is EMS, FCL, LCL, Postal Services, or DHL). Most commonly, sea freight is the standard option for 1688 clients. 1688 offers domestic shipping only, which mainly utilizes state-run China Post services. My clients prefer private shipment on bulk purchasing due to low cost & shipping time. 1688.com is different in that it accepts only the Chinese Yuan. International customers must hire sourcing agents for international trade via 1688.

Dropshipping Reviews Between Alibaba vs. 1688

China was the birthplace of dropshipping. Alibaba operates four leading websites for those new to the industry. In terms of dropshipping, we’ll compare Alibaba vs 1688. Alibaba International Station, 1688, Aliexpress, and Taobao are all part of it. Alibaba is like 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 meet specific most minor order quantities. Because production time is required, this is best suited for large enterprises with large inventories. It is not ideal for dropshipping. In my experience, Alibaba is only ideal for bulk or small business sourcing.

Reviews in Dropshipping from 1688

It might be a challenge for you to browse and read products on 1688 due to no English support. For dropshipping specifics, communication with suppliers may take some time. For your dropshipping business, you get the lower prices. You may compare the texture and quality to ensure a decent supplier. You will need to pay for the products through a sourcing agent. Yet, the advantage of 1688 dropshipping is the wholesale pricing of higher-quality items. You must pay for the agency fee, interests, and local and international shipping. It is because the cost of dropshipping is higher. My dropshipping stores use Aliexpress suppliers which are cheaper and more versatile.

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FAQs about Alibaba vs. 1688

1. Which platform is better for international buyers, Alibaba or 1688?

It depends on your specific needs. Alibaba is more international-friendly with its English support and a wider range of payment methods. However, 1688 offers lower prices and access to suppliers not found on Alibaba, making it a great choice for those willing to navigate language barriers.

2. Are there any hidden costs when using 1688 for sourcing products?

When using 1688, international buyers may need to consider additional costs such as agency fees, currency conversion, and potentially higher shipping costs. It’s essential to factor these into your sourcing budget.

3. Can I find dropshipping opportunities on both Alibaba and 1688?

Yes, you can find dropshipping opportunities on both platforms. However, Alibaba is better suited for bulk or small business sourcing, while 1688 offers wholesale pricing for higher-quality items, making it a good choice for dropshipping if you can navigate the language barrier.

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