5 min read

How to Source Products in English from 1688.com (Detailed Guide)

Written by
Vanessa Hung
January 25, 2024

Sourcing products from China can be a daunting task, especially when you are not fluent in the language. However, with the rise of online marketplaces like 1688.com, it has become easier for English-speaking buyers to access a wide range of products at competitive prices. In this article, we will guide you through the process of sourcing products from 1688.com in English, so you can take advantage of the platform's offerings.

While the website is primarily in Chinese, there are ways to navigate the site in English. We will show you how to use translation tools to help you understand the site's interface and product listings. Once you have a better understanding of the site, we will explain how to search for products and evaluate suppliers to ensure you are getting the best deal possible.

Finally, we will provide tips on how to communicate with suppliers and place orders on 1688.com. We will cover the common pitfalls to avoid when dealing with Chinese suppliers, as well as the best practices for negotiating prices and handling payments. By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how to source products from 1688.com in English and be ready to take your business to the next level.

What is 1688.com?

If you're looking to source products from China, you may have heard of 1688.com. This website is one of the largest B2B marketplaces in China, and it's owned by Alibaba Group, the same company that owns Alibaba.com and AliExpress, which are websites that you can also use to source your products.

1688.com is primarily aimed at domestic buyers in China, but it's also possible for international buyers to use the platform to source products. One of the advantages of using 1688.com is that the prices are often lower than on other platforms since the products are sourced directly from Chinese manufacturers.

However, there are some challenges to using 1688.com as an international buyer. The website is entirely in Chinese, which can be a barrier for those who don't speak the language. Additionally, some suppliers may not be willing to work with international buyers, or may not have experience shipping products overseas.

Despite these challenges, 1688.com can be a valuable resource for those looking to source products from China. With a little bit of research and some help from translation tools, it's possible to find high-quality products at competitive prices on the platform.

Setting Up an Account

Registration Process

To start sourcing products from 1688.com, you need to set up an account. The registration process is straightforward and free. Follow these steps to create your account:

  1. Go to 1688.com and click on the "Join Free" button located at the top right corner of the page.
  2. Fill out the registration form with your email address and a password. You can also register with your mobile phone number.
  3. Click on the "Get Verification Code" button to receive a verification code via email or SMS.
  4. Enter the verification code in the designated field and click on the "Register" button.
  5. You will receive a confirmation email from 1688.com. Click on the link provided in the email to activate your account.

Account Verification

After registering, you need to verify your account to start sourcing products. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Log in to your account and click on the "Verification Center" button located at the top right corner of the page.
  2. Click on the "Real Name Authentication" tab and fill out the verification form with your personal information, including your name, ID number, and address.
  3. Upload a scanned copy of your ID card or passport and a recent photo of yourself.
  4. Click on the "Submit" button to send your application for verification.
  5. Wait for 1-3 business days for 1688.com to review your application. Once your account is verified, you will receive a confirmation email.

By setting up an account and verifying it, you can access all the features of 1688.com, including browsing products, contacting suppliers, and placing orders.

Navigating the Website

Language Barrier Solutions

When navigating 1688.com, the language barrier can be a significant obstacle for non-Chinese speakers. Fortunately, there are several solutions to overcome this challenge.

One of the easiest ways to translate the website is to use Google Chrome's built-in translation feature. When you visit the website, you will be prompted to translate the page. Simply click "Translate" to have the website translated into English or your preferred language.

Another solution is to use a browser extension like "Zhongwen: Chinese-English Dictionary" for Chrome or "Perapera Chinese Popup Dictionary" for Firefox. These extensions allow you to hover over Chinese characters to see their English translations.

Searching for Products

To search for products on 1688.com, use the search bar located at the top of the homepage. You can search for products using keywords, product codes, or brand names. It's important to note that some sellers may use different product codes or names, so be sure to try multiple search terms.

You can also browse products by category. Simply hover over the "All Categories" tab at the top of the homepage to see a list of categories. Click on a category to see a list of subcategories and products.

Evaluating Sellers

When sourcing products from 1688.com, it's essential to evaluate the sellers to ensure you are working with a reputable and reliable supplier. One way to do this is to check the seller's ratings and reviews.

To view a seller's ratings and reviews, click on the seller's name on the product page. You will be taken to the seller's profile page, where you can see their ratings and reviews from previous buyers.

It's also a good idea to communicate with the seller before making a purchase. You can use the built-in messaging system on 1688.com to ask questions about the product, shipping, and other details. This can help you gauge the seller's responsiveness and professionalism.

Product Sourcing

Contacting Suppliers

When sourcing products from 1688.com, the first step is to find a supplier that offers the product you are looking for. You can use the search bar on the website to find products and then filter the results by supplier, price, and other criteria.

Once you have found a supplier that you are interested in, you can contact them through the messaging system on 1688.com. Be clear and concise in your message, stating what product you are interested in and any other relevant details. It's important to ask any questions you may have about the product or the supplier's policies at this stage.

Negotiating Deals

When negotiating with suppliers on 1688.com, it's important to be clear about your requirements and expectations. You can negotiate the price, minimum order quantity, and other terms to get the best deal possible.

It's important to keep in mind that suppliers on 1688.com often prefer to communicate in Chinese, so you may need to use a translator or hire a sourcing agent to help with negotiations.

Quality Assurance

Before placing an order with a supplier on 1688.com, it's important to verify the quality of the product. You can request samples from the supplier to evaluate the product before making a purchase.

Once you have received the product, inspect it carefully to ensure that it meets your requirements. If there are any issues with the product, be sure to communicate with the supplier to resolve the issue.

Ordering Process

Placing an Order

To place an order on 1688.com, you first need to find the product you want to purchase. You can use the search bar or browse through categories to find the product you need. Once you've found the product, make sure to check the product details, including the price, quantity, and shipping information.

After confirming the product details, you can add the product to your cart and proceed to checkout. You will be prompted to provide your shipping address and select your preferred shipping method. You can also add any special instructions or requirements for the seller.

Once you've confirmed your order details, you can submit your order. The seller will then review your order and confirm the availability of the product. If the product is available, the seller will send you a payment request.

Payment Methods

1688.com offers various payment methods, including credit cards, bank transfers, and online payment platforms such as Alipay and WeChat Pay. It's important to note that some payment methods may not be available for certain sellers or products.

To make a payment, simply follow the instructions provided by the seller. Once the payment has been processed, the seller will begin processing your order and preparing it for shipment.

Overall, the ordering process on 1688.com is straightforward and easy to navigate. By following these steps, you can confidently source products from 1688.com and have them delivered straight to your doorstep.

Shipping and Logistics

Choosing a Shipping Method

When it comes to shipping products from 1688.com, there are a variety of shipping methods available. The most common shipping methods are air freight, sea freight, and express delivery. Each shipping method has its own advantages and disadvantages, and it is important to choose the method that best suits your needs.

Air Freight

Air freight is the fastest shipping method available. It is ideal for small and lightweight products that need to be delivered quickly. However, air freight can be expensive, and it may not be the best option for heavy or bulky products.

Sea Freight

Sea freight is a slower shipping method, but it is also the most cost-effective. It is ideal for large and heavy products that do not need to be delivered quickly. However, sea freight can take several weeks to arrive, so it may not be the best option for time-sensitive products.

Express Delivery

Express delivery is a fast and reliable shipping method that is ideal for time-sensitive products. It is more expensive than sea freight, but less expensive than air freight. Express delivery is also a good option for small and lightweight products that need to be delivered quickly.

Dealing with Customs

When importing products from 1688.com, you will need to deal with customs. Customs can be a complex and time-consuming process, but it is important to follow the rules and regulations to avoid any legal issues.

Before importing products, you should research the customs regulations in your country. This will help you understand the requirements for importing products and ensure that you comply with all the necessary regulations.

You should also be prepared to pay any customs duties or taxes that may be required. These fees can vary depending on the value and type of products you are importing.

To make the customs process easier, you can work with a customs broker or freight forwarder. These professionals can help you navigate the customs process and ensure that your products are delivered smoothly and efficiently.

After-Sales Support

Handling Disputes

If you have any issues with the products you purchased from 1688.com, you can file a dispute with the seller. To do this, you need to provide evidence of the issue, such as photos or videos. You can also communicate with the seller to try to resolve the issue before filing a dispute.

If the seller agrees to a refund or replacement, make sure to confirm the details in writing. If the seller does not respond or refuses to resolve the issue, you can escalate the dispute to the platform's customer service team for further assistance.

Return Policies

Before making a purchase on 1688.com, it's important to understand the seller's return policy. Some sellers may offer a full refund or replacement for defective or damaged products, while others may only offer a partial refund or no refund at all.

When returning a product, make sure to follow the seller's instructions carefully. This may include providing evidence of the issue, returning the product in its original packaging, and paying for return shipping.

It's also important to note that some sellers may require you to return the product to a specific address or within a certain timeframe. Be sure to check the return policy before making a purchase to avoid any issues later on.


In wrapping up our guide on sourcing products from 1688.com, it's clear that this Chinese e-commerce sourcing platform holds immense potential for English-speaking sellers seeking quality products at competitive prices. By following the strategies and tips outlined in this blog, you can overcome language barriers, connect with reliable suppliers, and make informed decisions.

Remember, perseverance and adaptability are your allies on this sourcing journey. With dedication, you can unlock the vast opportunities that 1688.com offers and elevate your business to new heights.

Start your sourcing adventure today, and embrace the world of possibilities that await you on this dynamic platform. Happy sourcing!

Frequently Asked Questions

1 - Is 1688.com only for Chinese businesses?

No, 1688.com is not exclusively for Chinese businesses. While it primarily caters to the Chinese market, it's open to international buyers and sellers. Many English-speaking businesses use 1688.com to source products directly from Chinese suppliers.

2 - How do I navigate the language barrier on 1688.com?

To overcome the language barrier, you can use browser translation tools or employ third-party services to help you communicate with Chinese suppliers. Many suppliers also understand English to some extent, especially in major trading regions.

3 - Are the products on 1688.com of good quality?

The quality of products on 1688.com can vary. It's essential to do thorough research, read reviews, and establish good communication with suppliers to ensure you're sourcing high-quality products. Consider requesting samples before making bulk orders.

4 - How do I pay for products on 1688.com?

Most transactions on 1688.com are conducted through bank transfers or payment platforms like Alipay. Ensure that you are using secure payment methods and have a clear understanding of the payment process before making any transactions.

5 - What's the difference between 1688.com and Alibaba.com?

While both are platforms under Alibaba Group, Alibaba.com is more internationally focused, while 1688.com primarily serves the Chinese market. The products on 1688.com are often available at lower prices, but it may be more challenging for non-Chinese speakers to navigate.

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