Yes, 1688.com is a pretty useful website for sourcing products from China. It's in many ways the Chinese Version of Alibaba and is owned by Alibaba. Alibaba is focused on the international market and hence is branded to suit the international market which makes it popular. It's more expensive for a company to register and have a presence on the Alibaba Platform (at times nearly USD5000 for a year).
Hence sometimes the pricing on Alibaba can be on the higher side because manufactures and trading companies also have to invest more in hiring a Local English-speaking sales team and be a more export-focused business.
However, the Alibaba suppliers do have a presence on 1688.com. While focusing on the Chinese local market to find suppliers with lower pricing and lower MOQs they also want to do business with sourcing and trading companies who often use 1688.com.
Sometimes the same supplier on Alibaba selling a product for say $2 to the international market lists that same product for $1.5 or lower on the 1688.com website.
On 1688.com a lot of the smaller and even bigger manufactures based in China have some sort of presence and the cost of having a presence on 1688.com is very low and at times close to Zero. Yes, there are still quite a few trading companies doing business on 1688.com but compared to Alibaba there are fewer.
The whole 1688.com website is in Chinese, so a lot of sellers have to use tools like Google Translate to navigate through the website to get some more ideas on the Actual China market price. So, they try to add a suppliers WeChat App and communicate through it as it has an inbuilt translation software in it.
However, it takes some time, is tedious, and can be frustrating at times due to language issues, different time zones, etc. Also, there’s always a risk of things getting lost in translation and the chances of screwing up the whole project become high.
Many times the supplier on 1688.com happens to have an English speaking staff and some factory owners take help from a friend in translations/communications for certain projects so that they don't lose business!
Using a local sourcing company or trading company to help you source from 1688.com for better pricing, lower MOQs without compromising on the quality can also be a good idea.
However, you should never depend on these companies a lot but involve in the process from the beginning and keep things transparent as much as possible. This way you can be aware of the pricing, supplier contact information, shipping costs, production process, and will understand how things work in the supply chain.
While these were our opinions which we've come to form over the years, we also want to hear your experience and are eagerly waiting to hear that. Kindly email us on email@example.com
We are bringing here together years of experience in dealing with Chinese market.
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