Before we dive in, here are 2 posts that you should have a look. After reading them, you will have a clear picture about Yiwu international wholesale market and 1688.com. And it will be much easier for us to further compare those 2 places.
Post 1: A Complete Guide of Sourcing from Yiwu Market.
Post 2: How to buy from 1688.com full tutorial.
1. Target Market
Yiwu market is recognized as the largest wholesale market for small commodities in the world. It has customers from both in country and abroad. Statistically, products from Yiwu wholesale trade city are exported to over 200 countries worldwide.
And under the leadership of our president Xi jingping, Yiwu is also the starting point of “One Belt, One Road”. From 2017, Yiwu started to buy and sell globally. Here you cannot only have one stop wholesale sourcing of millions of Chinese products, but also enjoy the products from over 100 foreign countries.
However, 1688.com is not designed for oversea customers. It is a branch of Alibaba Group Company. And usually it is regarded as alibaba.CN. So, 1688.com mainly supplies domestic clients. But more and more customers, especially small and medium sized buyers from abroad found this magic platform and start buying from it by themselves or agents.
2. Market Type
Yiwu market is a physical wholesale marketplace. It has over 75,000 shops. And the total coverage is about 5.2 million square meters. You can only reach to it by visiting it in person.
1688.com is an online platform. Similar to Alibaba.com or other wholesale web places. You can visit the site at any time.
A visit to Yiwu market may cost 3k-5k USD more or less. And visiting 1688.com only requires a few clicks. But visiting Yiwu market can have a visual contact with the suppliers and the products, as well as build relationships face to face in long run.
3. Product Category
In Yiwu wholesale market, each shop is displaying thousands of product samples every day. Even it is a physical wholesale market, it only closes in the Chinese New Year for around 20 days. The product category covers from toys, artificial flowers, jewelry, holiday decorations, glassware, bags & suitcases, hardware tools & fittings, home appliances, kitchenware, stationery items, office supplies, sports products, outdoor gears, etc. Official says, there are over 2,000 categories.
1688.com is the online domestic wholesale market with the most comprehensive categories.
We have no exact numbers. It is said that there are 5 million suppliers. And its business department never stops expanding. Products can be sourced from any industry from small pin to huge machines, from raw material to finished products.
4. Supplier Types
Both Yiwu market and 1688.com have factories, wholesalers, trading companies. From years of experience working in Yiwu market, it can be said that there are only 20% of the suppliers are real factories. Most of them are wholesalers. Some of them are showroom from the trading company. The percentage of real factories goes up to 40%-50% on 1688.com.
If you are new to them, it’s hard to distinguish them. But have a look of their company name, enterprise type, even the products they are selling (factories mainly focus on one certain material or category of products), you could have a better idea if they are real factories.
Communication barrier is the common problem buying from Yiwu market and 1688.com. Yiwu market started from 1980s, most suppliers could not speak any English. Things are getting better as they start recruiting English spoken staffs in the shop. For a better communication and to be serious in business, it’s still necessary to hire a Yiwu Market Guide.
Same problem occurs on 1688.com. As not yet many foreign customers buying from there, seldom store representative can speak English. If you wish to source products from 1688.com, we suggest you download WeChat for communication. WeChat is ubiquitous in China and its built-in translation/voice & video call function is quite impressive.
6. Suppliers’ Response
Doing business is about choosing the right partner. And a cooperative partner of quick response and positive attitude is the key to success.
Suppliers from Yiwu wholesale market are always willing to do business. Most of them are more than happy to get you tea and coffee when you are visiting their shop, even it’s your first meeting with them. After a gratified talking, they will be pleased to invite you for dinner.
However, it’s also been said that some suppliers are a bit of unwilling to act. Sitting down there 8-hour a day makes them numb and lazy.
We normally get quick reply from 1688.com suppliers. And they know all the products details like material, size, weight, carton measurement, etc. But as an oversea buyer, sourcing from 1688.com is just like buying from all other platforms. Time difference makes you get a delayed reply. And the language barrier makes the suppliers unwilling to reply. But you will be benefited if you overcome those problem.
7. Product Price
You can get a better price on 1688.com with same quality item. Maybe because Yiwu market has a comparatively high rent cost. Some shops from yiwu market district one or two cost over 30,000 USD per square meter per year. While 1688.com only has a 1,000 USD yearly cost.
The difference is that 1688.com is flooded with products. Suppliers may have to burn a lot of money on advertisement. And many suppliers from Yiwu market only make a living on the reputation of the market. To get a better price from either of the market, always remember to shop around.
8. Product Quality
All kinds of quality are available from Yiwu market and 1688.com. And we’ve heard complaints from both places. “No sale, no complaints”. You should have a clear mind of the quality levels you want before you make a purchase. As Chinese suppliers are really capable of making different levels of quality.
There is an old saying in China, “The wool comes out of the sheep”. It literally means that you get what you pay for. And in Chinese culture, ‘NO’ is not a frequently used word. If a client pushes too much on the price, the supplier will agree, but he/she will also compromise on the quality at last.
And keep sample of what you ordered. 1688.com can buy a quantity as low as 1-3 pcs. While Yiwu market suppliers normally would not sell samples. They claim that those will be samples on shelves. If they sell to one client, them they will lose another one.
9. Product Package
Package is playing a vital role, whether you sell online or own a bricks and mortar store. While most buyers are buying readymade stock items from yiwu market or 1688.com. Package of stock items are not always good. Sometimes the stock items come from the remaining orders from other clients. Sometimes they are not made for your country. It could be with a different language of description.
From the experience of buying from both places, product package from 1688.com will be slightly better. Customized orders are exceptions. So, take the product package into consideration when you check the price and quality. And double check the package with the buying agent or the supplier when you place an order. Repack Your Products Before Shipping!
10. Wholesale MOQ
MOQ refers to Minimum Ordering Quantity. (By the way, here we have another post about few frequently used incoterms and abbreviations.) MOQ is the main concern for most new importers. Put all eggs in one basket is not a wise choice. But if you cannot meet a supplier’s MOQ, you could also miss the opportunity.
Suppliers from Yiwu market require MOQ from 1 carton to 2 cartons if they have stock. Depending on different products, one carton will be around 50-200pcs. But in a specific shop, they will ask you to order at least 10 cartons. Those 10 cartons could be of different product. If the order quantity is less than 10 cartons, they may overcharge transportation cost of 10-20 USD from their warehouse to your buying agent.
Suppliers on 1688.com sell products from 1-3 pcs to full cartons. You can always buy samples before placing an order. And the transportation cost is calculated based on the quantity you order. Even so, it’s worth a try to source wholesale products from 1688.com.
11. Delivery time
There is no much difference on delivery time from both places. For order of stock items, it takes around 5-7 days to prepare and deliver. About customized orders, the delivery time depends on the size of the factory.
By the way, the delivery is slightly different, even this is not always the case. Some suppliers from Yiwu market normally use day labors to deliver. They don’t know the products very well. It happens that the package is not well protected. Suppliers on 1688.com normally use the third-party logistics which is more professional.
OEM, also known as Original Equipment Manufacturer. When you start a brand, you wish to have the products manufactured in your brand name. OEM service is requested then. There are several ways to brand your products. For example, brand the product itself or design your own package. Either way requires the cooperation from the suppliers.
In fact, all the suppliers are glad to receive OEM orders as normally it will ask for higher MOQ. But not all the suppliers are capable of taking care of OEM orders. As some yiwu suppliers are middlemen, if you cannot make sure that they can undertake the order themselves, then probably they are going to transfer the order to someone else. More process means more trouble. This is the general issue. No one can promise that suppliers on 1688.com are better for OEM orders.
13. Payment Term
Payment term is very important to all the international buyers. Without down payment, suppliers are not willing to start out. Paying too much deposit, customers may have more concern. That’s why the general case is to make 30% deposit and 70% before shipping according to golden section ratio.
This term applies to yiwu market suppliers as well. If you have a steady relationship with them, payment term is negotiable step by step. But if the order value is not much, for example, 200USD, they would prefer 100% before shipping.
Suppliers on 1688.com will not accept deposit and balance model. For stock orders, suppliers request 100% paid to the platform. If there is a customized order with longer delivery time, it’s possible to negotiate with them and pay deposit first. They also prefer to deal online directly.
Wholesale sourcing from a different country, guarantee means everything. How can you be protected and guaranteed? No matter you are buying from yiwu market or 1688.com, probably you will end with hiring a buying agent. Let’s put aside the guarantee from the agent yet.
The general way to get guarantee from yiwu market suppliers is to have a written contract. And you have to be careful when you choose a supplier, and count on them that they will follow their words. If there is something wrong, the best scenario is that your buying agent can fix it.
Buying from 1688.com, your payment will be paid to the platform first, and then released to the supplier after your confirmation of receipt of goods. When you receive the goods, do check the quality, quantity and so on. If there is wrong delivery, ask for replace ASAP. Suppliers are concern about the reviews from clients and they will change or make it up.
15. Yiwu Market APP VS 1688 APP
Both Yiwu market and 1688.com have their own mobile applications. Yiwu Market APP is called YiwuGO. It is mainly for a quick research of yiwu market suppliers or products from Yiwu market. And not all the suppliers and products are covered. It’s a good tool to locate the shops if you are visiting the market. To be honest, there are not many people buying though the APP.
1688 APP, however, covers all functions same as its webpage. Quick search, image search, communication and payment all are included.
Yiwu market is a physical wholesale market, while 1688.com is an online platform. And there are a lot of problems of buying from 1688.com like communication, payment, etc. Maybe it’s not proper to compare them. But not every oversea buyer can come over to China factories or wholesale markets. Save the trip when you just starting out and invest the money into the products.