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How to dropship from 1688

1688 is a major B2B marketplace for buying products at wholesale prices. But can you dropship from 1688? Let’s find out. 

Key takeaways

  • 1688 doesn’t offer direct international shipping or dropshipping
  • International buyers can partner with dropshipping agents for procuring, storing, and shipping 1688 products 
  • You can find 1688 dropshipping agents on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google
  • WorldFirst Cross-border Pay allows international buyers to pay 1688 suppliers directly

Introduction is a B2B marketplace that provides a wide variety of products at wholesale prices. However, the marketplace was mainly created for domestic businesses, and it comes with some major challenges for international buyers: 

  • The website is primarily in Chinese 
  • 1688 only accepts domestic payments through local Chinese bank accounts 
  • There is no direct international shipping or dropshipping

But that doesn’t mean international buyers can’t purchase or dropship products from 1688.

Let’s delve into how international buyers can dropship 1688 products without losing out on profit margins.

Table of Contents

What does 1688 dropshipping involve?

1688 dropshipping involves finding products to sell on the B2B marketplace and then using dropshipping agents to manage procurement, storage, and shipment of products directly to the customers. 

The dropshipping fulfillment model can appeal to businesses wanting low overheads and high efficiency. 

You build an online storefront and market the products to your prospective customers. When a customer places the order, you send the order information to the dropshipping agent, and when the products have been shipped, you share the shipment tracking information with the customer.

Is it possible to dropship directly from 1688?

No. 1688 doesn’t offer dropshipping to overseas buyers. 1688 suppliers majorly sell products to inland businesses, which is why many suppliers also don’t have export licenses (since they need them.)  

If you are buying products from as a foreign buyer, you must partner with a reliable dropshipping agent to manage the shipment. 

Take a look at our complete 1688 guide to learn how to buy from 1688 suppliers directly.

How do 1688 dropshipping agents work?

Dropshipping from China can become quite a challenging experience without experts by your side. The language barrier on platforms like 1688, where most suppliers understand Chinese only, can make things even more challenging. 

A good dropshipping agent in China can help you overcome these language and cultural barriers by effectively communicating with suppliers on your behalf, negotiating the best prices, and dropshipping orders directly to your customers across the world. 

When you start working with a new dropshipping agent, they will first research suppliers based on your desired product type. The agent will then provide you with product quotes and when you agree, they will begin fulfilling the orders for your customers. You can share each order detail with the agent. They will be responsible for sourcing products from suppliers, performing end-to-end quality checks, and shipping them directly to the customer.

Here are some of the benefits of working with a dropshipping agent:

  • Less stress: When you partner with a 1688 dropshipping agent, they can connect you with the right suppliers with high-quality products at competitive prices. They also manage all the supplier communication on your behalf, ensuring products are delivered from the factories on time to maintain shipping timelines. 
  • Improved quality control: Your dropshipping agent can inspect products the supplier sends before shipping to your customers to ensure the products align with your quality expectations and requirements. You can also ask your dropshipping agents to take videos or photos of the products before shipping them. Any returns or quality issues are handled by the agent on your behalf. 
  • No communication barrier: The biggest challenge businesses face when sourcing products from China is the language barrier. Most suppliers in 1688 speak Chinese and only have a basic understanding of English. Your dropshipping agents can communicate with the supplier on your behalf in their native language and avoid any chances of miscommunication. 
  • Better scalability: While you work with one dropshipping agent who remains your main point of contact, they can help you source a wide range of products from different suppliers. You don’t have to manage payments, shipments, and relationships with multiple suppliers, as all that is handled by your dropshipping agent. Instead, you can focus on scaling your dropshipping business quickly and meeting the market demand.

How to find a 1688 dropshipping agent?

You can find dropshipping agents to source products from 1688 in several ways. Some of them include:

Google: You can always search for dropshipping agents with experience working with businesses in your area.

LinkedIn: You can search for dropshipping agents directly on LinkedIn, review their professional experience, and connect with them to see if they are a good fit for you.

Facebook groups: There are also many dedicated dropshipping and e-commerce groups on Facebook that you can join to connect with 1688 dropshipping agents.

How to ensure the reliability of 1688 dropshipping agents?

It’s important to verify the experience and reliability of dropshipping agents before you decide to partner with them. Here are some factors you should consider:

  • Does the agent have experience sourcing products from 1688?
  • Have they dropshipped for a business based in Australia?
  • Is the communication with the agent clear? How much time does it normally take them to respond to you?
  • What is their current quality control process? Can they readily provide photos and videos of the supplier warehouses and products?
  • What is the average shipping time? What kind of shipping partners do they have? Do they also provide shipment tracking?

Managing payment to 1688 dropshipping agents

When your dropshipping agents are based in China, and you have customers across the globe, it can be a big hassle to manage multiple payments and collections coming in different currencies from different countries.

With a dropshipping business model, you already work on tight profit margins, and excessive forex costs can easily chip away from your margins.

WorldFirst offers cross-border payment solutions for global businesses, allowing them to send payments to suppliers and collect payments from customers through a centralised account. With WorldFirst, you can protect your profit margins with competitive foreign exchang costs and zero monthly payment fees. 

In case you are dealing with 1688 suppliers directly, you will have to manage two different cross-border payment processes:

  • Payment to 1688 suppliers
  • Payment to dropshipping agents only accepts payments through domestic bank accounts, which can prove to be a big challenge for international buyers.

WorldFirst Cross-border Pay is the one-stop cross-border solution for international 1688 buyers outside of mainland China to pay suppliers directly.

Here are the steps to use Cross-border Pay:

  1. Register for a account
  2. Register for a World Account by WorldFirst
  3. Convert funds to CNH in your World Account
  4. Authorise your World Account to link your payments to via Cross-border Pay

*This payment solution is available to users in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and British Virgin Islands only.

Alternative to 1688: Dropshipping through AliExpress

AliExpress is an online global marketplace that connects B2B and B2C buyers worldwide with Chinese sellers. Since AliExpress is a global version of 1688 (Both are under the Alibaba group), it supports international shipping and dropshipping. 

You should compare product pricing and shipping fees before ordering from AliExpress to ensure you can maintain optimum profit margins.

Take a look at how to dropship from AliExpress.

Start your dropshipping business today

Set up your 1688 dropshipping business to take advantage of wholesale product prices and streamline payments with WorldFirst to further decrease payment fees. 

Disclaimer: The information contained is general only and largely our views.  Before acting on the information you should consider whether it is appropriate for you, in light of your objectives, financial situation or needs. Although information has been obtained from and is based upon multiple sources the author believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy and it may be incomplete or condensed. All opinions, estimates, mentioned products/services and referenced material constitute the author’s own judgement as of the date of the briefing and are subject to change without notice. WorldFirst shall not be responsible for any losses or damages arising from your reliance of such information.  Information on 1688 and its products/services are sourced from and can be found at

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