1688 vs. Taobao: A Comparison Guide


In the field of e-commerce, there are two giants in the Chinese market: 1688 and Taobao. Both platforms offer a wide range of products and services to meet the diverse needs of consumers and businesses. Both e-commerce platforms belong to Alibaba Group and have different advantages and different target groups. In this article, we will analyze the differences between 1688 and Taobao and how to choose to buy.

What is 1688?

1688.com is a wholesale market mainly for businesses who want to purchase products in bulk. With a large number of suppliers of different commodities, the website is China’s largest B2B marketplace and has quickly become popular among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) for its competitive prices.

Similar to Alibaba, most of the products on the website need to be purchased in bulk and you can negotiate with the merchants if you buy in large quantities. 1688’s prices are targeted at locals, so they tend to be cheaper than Alibaba’s prices.


How to purchase on 1688 website

We know that 1688’s prices are usually cheaper than Alibaba, so wholesale from 1688 means you can buy at a lower cost to get better profits. The best way to wholesale goods from the 1688 website is to work with a purchasing agent in China, as you will need a Chinese bank account and address.

1. Register an account
First you need to register and create a 1688 account, you can do this using your email address.
2. Product search
After registering an account, you can search for the products you need on the website. You can search in the category or search bar on the homepage, or by uploading an image.
The initial website of 1688 is in Chinese, you can use website translation to solve language problems, but it may not be accurate sometimes.
3. Communicate with merchants
Find the merchants you want to work with and ask them about prices, minimum order quantities, shipping terms, supplier details, and more.
Most of the sellers on 1688 do not speak English because this is a platform for the Chinese market. Therefore, choose a good purchasing dialing, they can help you communicate with the seller, you only need to inform the agent of your requirements.
4. Place an order
After the supplier agrees on the terms, it confirms the order details, including quantity, specifications and shipping method. After payment is made, the supplier will confirm receipt and process your order. Here, we remind you that you can order samples from merchants to check the quality of the goods before making large purchases.
1688 sellers only accept Alipay and domestic cards. This means you need a Chinese bank account. And a purchasing agent can help you solve this problem.
5. Organize international shipping and delivery
1688 sellers may not have an export license as they only ship within China. Therefore you will need to organize international shipping yourself. If you have an agent then you won’t need to think about this issue, they can sort out the shipping issues for you.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 1688

Here are the pros and cons you’ll encounter when purchasing 1688:


  • Product price is low
  • Low MOQ
  • Product customization, OEM and ODM services


  • The language of the website is Chinese
  • Most sellers don’t speak English
  • Only Alipay and domestic card payments are supported

What is Taobao?

Taobao, also part of Alibaba Group, is China’s largest online marketplace, serving consumers and businesses. Unlike 1688, it is not a B2B, but a C2C and B2C retail platform.
Taobao sellers often purchase goods in bulk from 1688, so its selling price will be higher.

The difference between 1688 and Taobao

  • Business model: 1688 is usually a B2B shopping website, suitable for bulk purchases, while Taobao is a C2C and B2C retail platform, targeting end consumers.
  • Purchase process: Taobao’s purchase process is similar to 1688, but they can use overseas credit cards or e-wallets as payment methods. But Taobao lacks customization options for 1688 products.
  • Product price: 1688 usually has lower prices than Taobao.

Looking for purchasing agent

Need a purchasing agent from China to purchase products for you? Contact twinswin, we will serve you attentively.

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