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Did you know that the global dropshipping market is expected to reach a whopping $476.1 billion by 2026? That’s more than 3.5 times its value in 2020! If you’re looking for a way to tap into this lucrative opportunity, you might want to consider 1688 dropshipping as your next venture.
We’ve created this article to help you navigate the intricacies of 1688 dropshipping and show you how to succeed in this competitive market. Throughout this guide, you will learn:
- The unique advantages and challenges of 1688 dropshipping
- How 1688 compares to Alibaba, another popular Chinese wholesale platform
- How to start dropshipping with 1688.com
- How to buy from 1688 using an agent service or directly from the website
By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how 1688 dropshipping works and how you can use it to grow your online business.
So, let’s get started!
| KEY TAKEAWAYS
What is 1688?
1688.com is a Chinese online wholesale platform that connects domestic buyers with local suppliers of various products, such as apparel, electronics, home decoration, and more.
1688.com is a trusted platform among Chinese business professionals who want to find reliable suppliers and quality products. It is also a valuable resource for dropshippers who want to diversify their product offerings and tap into the huge Chinese market.
Unlike Alibaba, which caters to international buyers and sellers, 1688.com focuses on the Chinese market only. It covers various sectors such as B2B, B2C, wholesale, and manufacturing.
One of the main advantages of 1688.com is its low prices, which attract buyers who want to get the best value for their money. Many dropshippers source products from 1688.com and resell them on other platforms like Shopify or AliExpress at higher prices. This way, they can increase their profit margins and reduce their inventory risks.
1688 vs. Alibaba: What Are the Differences?
You might have wondered what sets 1688 apart from Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce platform and even one of the world’s largest ones. Is it like an internal competition among ‘brothers’ from the same parent company?
Here are some main differences between 1688 and Alibaba so that 1688 can thrive in such a fast-paced and continuously evolving marketplace.
1. Business model
1688 is a B2B (business-to-business) platform with a strong focus on wholesale and bulk transactions within China. It connects Chinese manufacturers and wholesalers with local businesses.
Although Alibaba also includes B2B transactions, it has a broader spectrum of services, including B2C (business-to-consumer) and various e-commerce models. It connects businesses across the globe with each other and with consumers.
The information on the 1688 platform is in Chinese, which can be challenging for non-Chinese speakers to navigate effectively.
Alibaba offers a more diverse range of languages, including English, making it accessible to a global audience.
1688 mainly operates as a Chinese-language online marketplace for desktop usage. Its platform is tailored for businesses within China.
In the meantime, Alibaba offers a more diverse set of platforms and tools, including:
- Alibaba.com: The global B2B platform accessible in multiple languages.
- AliExpress: Geared towards international consumers and small businesses, it provides an English-friendly interface.
- Tmall: Focuses on brand-name products and B2C e-commerce in China.
- Taobao: A popular C2C and B2C e-commerce platform within China.
- Alibaba Cloud: A cloud computing platform.
- Alipay: A digital payment and financial services platform.
- Aliyun: Alibaba Cloud’s international brand.
- Cainiao: Alibaba’s logistics platform.
4. Target audience
1688 primarily targets Chinese businesses and serves as a wholesale marketplace within China. It is the choice of the businesses looking to source products, especially in bulk, within the domestic Chinese market.
Meanwhile, Alibaba connects businesses worldwide, facilitating trade within China and between China and the rest of the world. So, it has a broader international reach.
1688 offers various products, including industrial equipment, consumer goods, and more, primarily for bulk buyers and wholesalers.
Alibaba provides a vast range of products and services, catering to businesses and individual consumers. Its product categories are diverse, covering almost every imaginable industry.
6. Price range
The products on 1688 have competitive pricing as it aims to attract businesses within China looking for cost-effective sourcing options. It often provides access to wholesale prices, allowing businesses to buy products in bulk at lower rates.
Alibaba offers a range of pricing options depending on the product type and the supplier. While it also provides competitive pricing, it extends to a global market, allowing for varied pricing structures.
What is 1688 Dropshipping?
1688 dropshipping is a business model that allows you to source products from a prominent Chinese wholesale marketplace called 1688.com.
Dropshipping has become increasingly competitive, with profit margins often squeezed to their limits. 1688 emerges as a compelling option.
1688 has an enormous amount of suppliers, factory owners, and wholesalers ready to cater to your dropshipping needs. Success in 1688 dropshipping hinges on effective communication with these product-sourcing agents.
But why would dropshippers choose 1688 over Alibaba’s huge opportunities to reach global and drive more profits? The answer lies in 1688’s advantages that we’ll show you right below.
1688 Dropshipping: Pros & Cons Breakdown
There are multiple aspects of 1688 before making it an ultimate choice for your dropshipping business.
The following content will walk you through the details of why 1688 has gained popularity and the room for 1688 to improve itself in the fast-evolving dropshipping market.
1. Pros of 1688 dropshipping
1.1. Low Prices
One of the main reasons why dropshippers choose 1688 over other platforms like AliExpress or Alibaba is the lower prices they can get for their products. 1688 connects dropshippers directly with factories and wholesalers in China, offering them the best deals and quality for their products.
For example, let’s say you want to dropship LED headphones. On AliExpress, the average price for this product can range from a minimum of $8.
While on 1688, you can find the same product for as low as ¥18.00 (~$2.45)! Thus, it leads to higher profit margins for dropshippers.
1.2. Low MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity)
Unlike other wholesale platforms, 1688 does not impose minimum order quantity requirements.
The flexibility allows dropshippers to purchase the exact quantity of products they need, whether a small test order or a larger volume. It is particularly beneficial for those starting a business with limited capital.
1.3. Swift Response
1688 is famous for its responsive customer service. Hence, you can easily communicate with suppliers, get quick answers to your questions, and efficiently resolve any issues that may arise during the dropshipping process. Effective communication is crucial in ensuring a smooth operation.
1.4. Direct Access to Factories and Wholesalers
1688 direct access is different from major dropshipping platforms because it allows dropshippers to buy products directly from factories and wholesalers in China, without any middlemen or commissions. This can help dropshippers save money and increase profit margin, as well as offer more variety and customization options for dropshipping products.
Major dropshipping platforms like AliExpress, eBay, or Amazon, on the other hand, charge higher prices and commissions for their products, as they source them from resellers or intermediaries. They also have more competition and saturation, as many dropshippers use the same products and suppliers.
|💡Dive into other major dropshipping platforms:
1.5. Wide Product Selection
1688 offers a vast range of products catering to various industries and niches. It offers a vast range of products catering to various industries and niches, such as clothing, electronics, home appliances, toys, jewelry, and more.
Such an extensive selection allows dropshippers to explore different product categories and adapt to changing market trends.
2. Cons of 1688 dropshipping
2.1. Shipping Cost and Delivery Time
1688 primarily caters to the Chinese market and only ships to Chinese addresses.
If you are dropshipping internationally, you will likely need to engage a third-party shipping service with additional fees and longer delivery times. These added costs and delays can profoundly impact your profit margins and customer satisfaction.
2.2. Language Barrier
Many suppliers in 1688 primarily communicated in Mandarin Chinese.
For dropshippers who do not know Mandarin, understanding product descriptions, negotiations, and supplier communication can be challenging and time-consuming. It can even lead to misunderstandings and may require additional translation efforts.
2.3. Payment Issues
1688 primarily operates within the Chinese market, so it does not accept PayPal, a popular transaction method internationally.
Dropshippers have to use alternative payment methods, which may not be familiar and convenient for international dropshippers. Consequently, using alternative payment methods may complicate the process of refunds and returns.
Resolving payment-related issues or disputes may take longer and be less straightforward than platforms that accept widely used international payment options like PayPal.
How to Start 1688 Dropshipping?
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to buy from 1688 so that you can navigate the process successfully. It can be applicable regardless of the platform. For example, the process is the same if you want to set up a Shopify store for 1688 dropshipping.
While it may require some initial effort, it can be a rewarding strategy for sourcing products at competitive prices and expanding your dropshipping business.
Step 1. Create an account on 1688.com
Start by registering an account on 1688.com, similar to what you would do on AliExpress. While the website is primarily in Chinese, you can use tools like Google Translate to assist you in understanding and completing the registration process.
Depending on the device you’re using, 1688 provides two default options.
- If you are accessing the platform via a PC, you will be directed to the desktop version for registration.
- If you’re using a mobile phone, you will register through Taobao, as Taobao and 1688 collaborate due to their common ownership by Alibaba.
When registering, provide the following details from top to bottom:
- 会员名 (Member’s Surname): This is your username, and it should not contain spaces.
- 登录密码 (Login Password): Create a secure login password.
- 密码确认 (Password Confirmation): Re-enter your chosen password for confirmation.
- 手机号码 (Phone Number): Provide your phone number.
- Drag the Arrow to the Right: Complete the puzzle by dragging the arrow to the right.
- 验证码 (Verification Code): Enter the verification code sent to your phone number.
You need to complete any required security confirmations and proceed by clicking the confirmation box at the end.
Step 2. Research dropshipping products on 1688.com
1688 provides a wide range of products, similar to what you can find on AliExpress, but at more budget-friendly prices. You will discover product categories conveniently listed on the left side of the website.
Searching for specific items on 1688 is a relatively simple process, provided you have a basic understanding of Chinese or use Google Translate. For instance, you can enter a keyword into the search bar, yielding numerous product options.
Besides, there are two other methods for product research on 1688:
- Employ a freelancer familiar with the Chinese language to conduct product research on your behalf.
- Use reverse image search to find products you have seen elsewhere.
To optimize your search experience, you should use broader and more concise keywords. This approach enhances your chances of finding the desired products efficiently.
Smart dropshippers often have specific products in mind and use 1688 to find them at lower prices, enhancing their revenue and profit margins.
|💡 Here are some product inspirations exclusively for you:
Step 3 . Adding details to your store
You can manually add product details to your store. Yet, you can save time and effort with Google extensions like 1688 Data Scraper, the Importify app for Shopify, or using a CSV file to import product details.
The following notes can help you create a better shopping experience through insightful product information.
3.1. Product information
Collect all the essential information about the chosen products, including product names, descriptions, prices, images, and any relevant specifications such as size, color, or material.
3.2. Images and descriptions
Images and descriptions are crucial for your store, as they show and sell your products. Use these tips to optimize them:
- Use clear, sharp, and well-lit images that show the product from different angles.
- Match the size and resolution of your store’s layout.
- Avoid images that are too large or too small.
- Write catchy product descriptions that highlight the features and benefits of your product.
- Use clear, concise, and persuasive language that appeals to your target audience.
- Use keywords that are relevant to your product and niche.
3.3. SEO optimization
You can optimize your product listings for search engine rankings through relevant product titles and description keywords to improve their visibility in search results. It ensures your brand name and store are in the sight of potential customers, increasing the conversion rates.
|💡 Save your time and effort! Click here to use our checklist for search engine optimization on the Shopify store.
3.4. Categorization and organization
You should properly categorize and organize your products within your online store, making it easier for customers to navigate and find what they want. Hence, the smooth experience of browsing products in your store can enhance your customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Step 4. Adjust prices to meet desired profit margin
Setting the correct prices for the products you source from 1688 is a crucial step in dropshipping. Unlike other platforms, 1688 may require more manual intervention when adjusting prices to ensure your desired profit margins.
Here are some recommended actions for timely and accurate price adjustments:
4.1. Calculate profit margins
Before you list products in your store, determine the profit margin you want to achieve. This margin should cover all your expenses, including the product, shipping, advertising, and other operational costs.
4.2. Consider all costs
You should consider all costs associated with dropshipping from 1688. These costs may include:
- Product Cost
- Shipping Costs
- Currency Conversion and Transaction Fees
- Platform Fees
- Advertising Costs
- Returns and Refunds
4.3. Competitive analysis
Research your competitors to understand the pricing landscape for similar products. While you want to maintain healthy profit margins, your prices should also be competitive within your niche.
4.4. Pricing strategy
Will you offer lower prices to attract more customers or position your products as premium and charge higher prices? Your strategy can impact your profit margins and market positioning.
4.5. Regular review
Prices should not be set in stone; hence, you should continuously monitor your sales and adjust prices as needed. If a product sells well, consider raising the price slightly to increase your profit margin. Otherwise, you should lower the price to encourage sales.
4.6. Automation tools
While 1688 may not offer automated pricing adjustments like some other platforms, you can use third-party apps or tools to help you automate price updates based on your desired profit margins.
Step 5. Place an Order from 1688.com
This step is closely tied to your product and supplier research. You can place orders directly for products, similar to other e-commerce websites.
Some notes help you find reliable suppliers on 1688 for your dropshipping store, including:
- Effective Communication: A supplier who promptly responds to your inquiries and offers valuable information can greatly contribute to a smoother working relationship.
- Experience and Reputation: You should look for suppliers with a substantial track record, ideally having been in business for at least three years. Also, they should have a general rating of four stars or higher, indicating a level of trustworthiness.
- Competitive Pricing: It does not only help you save money but also ensures that you are not overpaying for products compared to market rates.
- Product Quality and Customer Feedback: Assess product ratings as they reflect the quality of items and customer satisfaction. Higher ratings generally indicate good product quality.
If you have already completed your product research and selected suppliers, you can easily communicate with suppliers to manage bulk orders. 1688 accepts order placement methods, including Direct order, CSV files, Google Sheets, and Excel.
You should discuss shipping methods and cross-border destinations with your 1688 suppliers, as they typically provide local shipping services within China. If you want to do business outside China, you should determine and communicate with a dropshipper interested in international shipping.
In general, here are some tips to start a successful 1688 dropshipping business:
- Conduct thorough market research to identify profitable niches and products.
- Build a professional and user-friendly e-commerce website or store.
- Maintain transparent and open communication with suppliers.
- Regularly update product listings and monitor inventory levels.
- Develop a marketing strategy to drive traffic and conversions to your store.
- Continuously assess and adapt your pricing strategy to remain competitive.
How to Work With 1688 Dropshipping Agent?
A 1688 dropshipping agent acts as an intermediary between you and 1688 suppliers. They assist in sourcing products, negotiating prices, handling payments, and managing logistics.
While not mandatory, partnering with a trustworthy 1688 dropshipping agent can simplify the process and help you avoid potential pitfalls, especially if you’re new to the platform or face language barriers.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on effectively working with a 1688 dropshipping agent:
Step 1. Contact your 1688 dropshipping agent
Firstly, you need to find and contact a reliable 1688 dropshipping agent who can help you buy products from 1688.com, a wholesale marketplace that connects you directly with factories and wholesalers in China.
1.1. How to find a 1688 dropshipping agent?
To find a reliable 1688 dropshipping agent, you can follow these tips:
- Conduct online research: Use search engines to find 1688 dropshipping agents with positive reviews and testimonials from other buyers. Check their websites and profiles on platforms like Alibaba, Global Sources, or Made-in-China.
- Seek recommendations: Reach out to your business network or industry peers who have experience with 1688 dropshipping agents. They may be able to recommend trustworthy professionals.
- Verify credentials: Ensure that the 1688 dropshipping agent is legitimate and possesses a valid business license. Ask for references and conduct background checks to validate their credibility.
- Ask questions: Communicate with the 1688 dropshipping agent and ask them questions about their communication and language skills, experience and expertise, services offered, request samples, contract and agreement, and more.
1.2. Contact your desired 1688 dropshipping agents
To contact your 1688 dropshipping agent, you need to follow these tips:
First of all, contact your 1688 dropshipping agent to be clear and polite. You should use simple and respectful language when communicating with your agent. You should avoid slang or jargon that may cause confusion or misunderstanding. You should also be courteous and appreciative of their service.
Next is to provide details. You should give your agent all the information they need to source your products from 1688.com. This includes product specifications, quantities, special instructions, delivery time, budget, and more. You should also provide any relevant links or images of the products you want.
Don’t forget to use multiple channels. You should contact your agent through different platforms that they prefer. You can use email, phone calls, Skype, WhatsApp, WeChat, or other platforms to communicate with them. You should also use the same channel for the same order to avoid confusion.
Lastly is to follow up regularly. You should keep track of your order and ask for updates and feedback from your agent. You should check the product quality, shipping status, tracking number, and more. You should also report any issues or problems as soon as possible.
1.3. Dropshipping agent recommendations
Here are some examples of reliable 1688 dropshipping agents that you can consider:
- Bestfulfill: Bestfulfill is a professional dropshipping sourcing and fulfillment agent with over 6 years of 1688 sourcing experience. They can provide you with the most reliable service on 1688 sourcing. They have different special lines that can ship to over 100+ countries all over the world.
- Supplyia: A 1688 dropshipping agent that offers order fulfillment services, including sourcing, shipping, branding, and packaging. They have a guide on how to select, communicate, and pay 1688 suppliers for dropshipping.
- ShipAnt: ShipAnt is a dropshipping sourcing agent that mainly sources Aliexpress Amazon and Shopify seller products from China 1688 Taobao and filters quality dropshipping suppliers at lower cost. They also offer quality inspection services.
- Sourcingbro: Sourcingbro is an experienced dropshipping agent in China that aims to bring personalized attention to the business. They offer sourcing, private labeling, fulfillment, and more services for dropshippers.
- LeeLine Sourcing: A top dropshipping agent with over 10 years of 1688 sourcing experience. They offer the best quality and price on 1688 products, and ship to over 200+ countries. They help you find and buy products from 1688, simplifying your dropshipping business.
Step 2. Product sourcing and negotiation
Your dropshipping agent will leverage their expertise and network to find the best-suited supplier for your product. They will negotiate with the supplier on your behalf to secure favorable terms and pricing.
Step 3. Purchase and storage
Once the agent has identified a suitable dropshipping supplier on 1688, they will purchase the products from the supplier. These products will be stored in the agent’s warehouse, so you do not have to manage inventory.
Step 4. Service fee calculation
Dropshipping agents typically charge service fees. There are two common types that many agents charge for their service.
- Per Link Fee: Some agents charge a fee for each product link. For example, if you purchase ten products, each with a corresponding link, and the agent charges $3 per link, your total service fee would be $30.
- Percentage of Goods’ Value: Agents may charge a percentage of the total value of the goods. For instance, if your product is valued at $1000 and the agent’s fee is 5%-10%, your service fee would range from $50 to $100.
Step 5. Streamlined shipping process
Your 1688 dropshipping agent manages the entire shipping process. It includes collecting the suppliers’ products, conducting quality checks, consolidating and repackaging items if necessary, and arranging shipping to your customer’s doorstep.
Step 6. Calculate total costs
There are several components to determine your total costs when working with a 1688 dropshipping agent.
- Product Cost: The price you pay for the products on 1688.
- Service Fee: The agent charges fees based on their chosen calculation method.
- Freight from Agent’s Warehouse to Customer: The cost of shipping from the agent’s warehouse to your customer’s location.
1688 dropshipping holds a world of opportunity for savvy entrepreneurs. From its extensive product catalog to competitive pricing, 1688 offers a gateway to global markets that are difficult to match. However, as with any venture, success hinges on a strategic approach.
The key to winning in such a highly competitive and fast-paced market as e-commerce is adaptability. Embrace the unique advantages of 1688, such as lower prices and access to a wealth of suppliers, while overcoming challenges like language barriers and international shipping complexities.
Hopefully, some insights into 1688 dropshipping, its differences from Alibaba, and the guidelines we share can help you unlock your full potential!