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Websites for sourcing products from China

1688.com

General information about 1688
A wholesale website for Chinese sellers who sell both in China and sell to other countries. It is an Alibaba company, many say it is a Chinese version Aliexpress, but it is not. It is a B2B platform. And mostly, the seller on 1688 are factories or wholesale companies. The products in 1688 are not branded product most of the time.

Pros

· Cut the trading companies tier off
· More likely to get in touch with the factory directly, there are also many trading companies in 1688, they just wholesale domestically.
· More products than Alibaba, since it is in China, and list it in 1688 is much cheaper than Alibaba. Alibaba cost 29,000 RMB,and 30,000 RMB deposit. On the contrary, 1688 only cost 3,000 RMB and requires no English skill. So there are more products in 1688.
· Earlier access to products, since most of the products, will be sold in China first.

Cons

· Language. No English available. However, with Google translate extension, it can address the language issue bit, but many details may be missed.
· Can not be purchased directly, so you still have to either open up the Alipay account in China with quite a lot of efforts.
· Communication may be a headache, even if there is a translating app.

Sourcing product comparison

Let’s take armband for example

Link on Aliexpress
Link on 1688
Link on Alibaba

PlatformStarting PricePrice for Bulk OrderMOQ Comment
Aliexpress8.54USDNot mentioned1So more expensive, not sure they have the B2B capacity.
168823.9RMB=3.47USD10RMB=1.45USD1Lower price, but communication is hard, and low MOQ
Alibaba5USD2.5USD10MOQ is high, and the price is higher than in 1688

My conclusion, if you want to find something cheaper, and want to cut the trading company off, it is better than AliExpress in general. But the communication cost will be high. You should either understand Chinese or have a company\agent helping you. If you currently source from Alibaba, it is quite good if you can have someone to help on buying from 1688, even certain percentage commission, it is still cheaper than Alibaba.

Taobao

Taobao is the biggest e-commerce website, basically, it sells everything, and it is much bigger than Amazon. It is not for sourcing directly, but you can find trendy products and new product release. There are so many Taobao products which are not available to other countries. However, when you use a non-China IP address to visit the website, you will be directed to Taobao International to so it will be wise to use App find new products.

Down below pictures show how Taobao looks after translated by Google.

I will also use Armband as keywords to show how products vary on both Taobao and Amazon

Search term on Taobao 跑步臂包

Search term on Amazon  Armband for running

So you will see the difference is obvious, there are products on Taobao are never seen on Amazon. This both reflects the buyer preference and opportunity.

Then I tried the terms on Taobao 办公桌风扇=office desk fan, and search office desk fan on Amazon, let see the difference.

Results on Taobao

Results on Amazon

Conclusion on Taobao.
There are so many products on Taobao, basically everything. So if you ever want to find some quite different from other seller in the US, Taobao may work as a platform for you to find something different.

Other platform Chinese buyer buy premium products

1.   JD.COM which is actually the Chinese equivalent of Amazon.
 Here is the armband link  
People in China think JD is more high quality on JD than Taobao
2.  https://www.xiaomiyoupin.com/  This is a very premium selected platform. This website is founded by China leading smartphone company Xiaomi. Products on this platform are mostly branded products, even though not big names. And most of the are start-up companies. So the way work with the companies on this platform is quite different from 1688.

Conclusion on sourcing from platforms which are in Chinese and less tapped by US sellers.

1.     Make sure you have good Chinese contact, in the following forms

· Ideally Chinese employee, and a Chinese company registered in China. Actually, the Chinese government welcomes foreign investment. (This may take a long time to proceed. )
· Trading company. Let them do all the work. Trading companies may be different, some focus purely on B2B, some may do B2C fulfillment.
· Sourcing agent. There are some companies are now transforming from traditional B2B to specialized in helping Amazon seller. From private labeling to Amazon FBA service.

2.    Be patient with Chinese websites.  if possible get a Chinese IP address to access the Chinese platform, Because the IP address may affect the results of your search.   

3.     You may find some very innovative and high-quality products in China, and those products are even not available in the US or other countries, if you have early access to them, it might be a very good chance to create some great opportunity.