WorldFirst and all you need for wholesale sourcing

WorldFirst and all you need for wholesale sourcing

From highly-competitive prices to low minimum orders, it’s not hard to see why 1688 is fast becoming a goods-sourcing favourite outside of China.


You might have heard of – the global marketplace for people who want to buy and sell across the world. But have you heard of Both are owned by the Alibaba Group but, where Alibaba focuses on international trade, 1688 was originally created for the Chinese market.

Launched in 1999, 1688 is China’s leading B2B marketplace for wholesale, sourcing and dropshipping. According to Analysys, it was China’s largest integrated domestic wholesale marketplace in 2021 by net revenue. It’s not as widely known outside of China because of its target market and the difficulty in paying suppliers. Here’s why.

China has a two currency system, one for domestic transactions within mainland China and another for international trade coming in and out of the country. Both are known as renminbi (or RMB, literally ‘the people’s money’) but they have two ISO currency codes: CNY for domestic transactions and CNH for international trade.

Both use the same bank notes and, in China, are equivalent in value when exchanging the two. However, there are restrictions on transactions in CNY and its value is dictated by the People’s Bank of China. Because of the restrictions on CNY, it was incredibly difficult for cross-border businesses to buy from 1688, which catered to the domestic market.

Until now. WorldFirst is the exclusive payments provider that allows you to pay your 1688 suppliers in CNH. This means that when you source your goods on 1688, you can now pay suppliers faster and avoid the extra currency exchange fees of paying in USD. That’s big news for small and micro businesses because of the low minimum order quantities, range of choice and highly-competitive prices.

Why you should source from

Save money

Make savings of anywhere from 4% to 40% when sourcing goods

Search 50+ industries

Find raw materials, apparel, household goods, electronics, food, and more

Discover 1,700+ subcategories

Browse a huge amount of products, all from licensed Chinese suppliers

Go direct

With 1688, you cut out the middleman and deal directly with the manufacturer or supplier

Order minimal amounts

Many sellers allow you to buy as little as one or two items at a time, helping with cash flow and letting you try before you buy a larger amount

Meet 10+ million suppliers

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to who you want to do business with


All of the benefits of sourcing from 1688 come with the knowledge of a name that’s backed by an internationally-recognised brand. It’s also good to know that 1688 has over 120 million registered users and over 31 million monthly visitors to their site. So, it’s far from a small player.

By opening a World Account with WorldFirst, you’re taking the first step to connecting your business to all the benefits of sourcing on But that’s not all you get from your World Account.

Perks of a World Account

Pay like a local

Open local currency  accounts in 10+ currencies for free

Fast and easy payments to China

Pay suppliers in China in CNH, or those in Hong Kong in USD or HKD on the same day

Manage currency risk

Convert at today’s rate, a targeted one, or lock it in for up to 24 months

Team up but stay in charge

Add unlimited team members and customise the level of access for each person

A world of opportunity

Connect to 100+ global marketplaces and payment gateways

More time, less work

Integrate your World Account with Xero or Netsuite and let them do the accounting and reports for you

Open a World Account for free

  • Open 10+ local currency accounts with local account details
  • Direct CNH payments to
  • Pay suppliers, partners and staff in 40+ currencies and 130+ destinations
  • Collect secure payments from 100+ marketplaces and payment gateways, including Amazon, AliExpress, Paypal and Shopify
  • Lock in currency conversion rates for up to 24 months
Get started

How to shop on

In order to start sourcing from, you need to create an account with:



To verify your identity when registering for a account


 To source from manufacturers and suppliers



To pay suppliers instantly

You can open a World Account here.

Then there are two ways to set up an Alipay account:

  On your mobile:

  1. Open Alipay mobile app (iOS and Android) and click 'Register'
  2. Select your country code and your mobile number
  3. Enter the verification code sent to your mobile number

  On your desktop:

  1. Log into and select 'Register'
  2.  Next, click 'Personal Account' and select your nationality/region
  3.  Fill in your mobile number and enter the verification code sent to your mobile number

How to open a account

All users must register for an account on in order to begin purchasing.

Go to and click on the highlighted tab (in the diagram, below) which translates to ‘Sign up for free’.

Or, if you already have a Taobao account, you can use those details to log into Both Taobao and 1688 are subsidiaries of Alibaba Group, so they share the same details.


Top tip: If you can’t read Mandarin, use Google Translate to convert the page into English. Make sure you’re using Chrome as your browser, right click and select ‘Translate into English’.

A pop-up will appear with a User Agreement. Select to register as an individual. (Again, Google Translate is your friend here if you can’t read Mandarin.)

Important: Registering for a company account on is for Chinese suppliers and sellers only. Foreign companies or non-local individuals need to register as an individual, even if doing so on behalf of a company.

Fill in your information on the registration page and click the highlighted button (in the diagram, below) and click on the button which translates to ‘Agree and register’.

You’ll receive a one-time verification code on the mobile number you gave on the form. Enter the code and click the button to submit.

To activate your 1688 account, tick the check box to accept the agreement and click ‘Confirm’.

On the following page, will request that you complete your account profile, but this is optional.

How to verify your account                                                  

After registering for your 1688 account, you can choose to verify your account. While it’s not mandatory, if you’d like to use the 1688 Cross-border Pay solution, a verified 1688 account is necessary.

Other benefits of a verified 1688 account include the ability to unfreeze or restore your account in the event it is frozen or restricted.

What’s the 1688 or Cross-border Pay solution?

Cross-border Pay is the official payment method provided by WorldFirst and that lets foreign companies pay suppliers instantly and directly.

For 1688 accounts opened by individuals based outside of China, the verification process requires you to connect with a verified personal Alipay account.

On your 1688 account, click on your account name and navigate to ‘account management’. Then, under ‘my verification’ go to ‘verify using personal details’.

You’ll be redirected to the quick verification page. Enter your Alipay login ID and password, then click the orange button ‘link to Alipay account’.

Congratulations, you’re now verified and your Alipay account is connected to your account!

Setting these accounts up doesn’t take too long and it’s time well spent in the long run. In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning more about how to grow your e-commerce business, check out the rest of our guides here.                     



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