Whether dropship from Aliexpress, 1688 or Taobao might be one of the most frequently asked questions for Shopify sellers who already started dropshipping business from China for a while. It’s like being on a crossroad for the dropshipping business, following the same way or turn left or right. No matter choose which platform the nature is the suppliers there offers more competitive price and better experience for dropshipping business, thus it isnt hard to choose the best one to dropship once we figured out difference, advantages, disadvantages between Aliexpress, 1688 and Taobao.

Aliexpress 1688 Taobao Wiki

Aliexpress, 1688 and Taobao all belongs Alip group, Aliexpress used to be a C2C mode, but now it gradually change to B2C mode with higher entry barriers for new suppliers, it is a cross-border e-commerce platform for the international market and is called international Taobao by the majority of sellers. AliExpress faces overseas buyers, uses Alipay international accounts for secured transactions, and uses international logistics channels to transport and deliver goods. It is the third largest English online shopping site in the world. AliExpress covers 30 first-level industry categories including 3C, clothing, home furnishings, accessories, etc. Among them, the dominant industries are: clothing and apparel, mobile communications, shoes and bags, beauty and health, jewelry and watches, consumer electronics, computer networks, Home furnishings, auto and motorcycle accessories, lamps, etc.

1688 is China’s leading small business e-commerce platform for domestic trade, it focuses on China market with wholesale and dropshipping business, through professional operations, better customer experience and fully optimize the business model of corporate e-commerce. 1688 has covered 16 major industries including raw materials, industrial products, clothing and accessories, household goods, small commodities. The 1688 cross-border market platform has get together 500,000 small and medium-sized enterprises to provide products for AliExpress, Amazon, Wish, eBay, lazada and other platforms all over the world, it is Alibaba CN site in the past.

Taobao was founded in 2003, it is one of the most popular online shopping and retail platform in China, with nearly 500 million registered users and more than 60 million regular visitors every day. At the same time, the number of online products has exceeded 1 billion, with an average of 48,000 items sold per minute.

Pros and Cons Dropshipping from Aliexpress 1688 Taobao


Aliexpress supports multi languages for keywords search and filter, dropshippers could easily source the trending products for dropshipping, while 1688 and Taobao are in Chinese but both of them supports photo search, which means we can easily find the same product we want to sell, when we use keywords search on Taobao 1688, it takes time as there are millions of product available, it takes longer time to source on 1688 Taobao if we do not know Chinese well.

The communication language on Aliexpress is mainly English while 1688 Taobao dropshipping suppliers mainly speak Chinese, even we use google translate to communicate it sometimes has ambiguity.

Thus Dropshipping from Aliexpress has the language advantage versus 1688 Taobao when sourcing products and communicate with dropshipping suppliers.

Products and dropshipping suppliers

Compared to Aliexpress and Taobao, 1688 has the most dropshipping suppliers and manufacturers available as it is a B2B platform and focuses on wholesale and dropshipping suppliers, while Aliexpress and Taobao mainly for retail. Taobao product skus already exceeded 1 billion, no matter product sku or sellers quantities 1688 and Taobao are far more than Aliexpress.

However, Aliexpress sellers know more about the overseas market and release products to satisfy the overseas market or get trending products from overseas market then manufacture in China and sell to overseas market with competitive prices. Along with the competition on the online business, more and more Aliexpress and Taobao sellers focus on personalized and unique products with exquisite design, good material and quality workmanship which can be hardly find on 1688, for example, streetwear, jewelry accessories, toys, 3C digital products, home dec products etc.

Furthermore, when we dropship from Aliexpress via Shopify, we can easily import products via Oberlo, while we cannot do the same on 1688 Taobao, for one thing, the product photos usually have Chinese, for another thing 1688 have API for shopmaster to imort but Taobao doesnt offer the API access, thus product photos being imported manually.

Thus we usually suggest source products on the 3 platforms then import product photos via Aliexpress while order from 1688 Taobao with cheaper price.

Product price

Based on the description there’s no wonder 1688 has the cheapest price vesus the same product on Taobao and Aliexpress, especially when we have a best seller products on our store with stable sales everyday, the price advantage is even bigger when we dropship from 1688.

Does it mean it always cheaper when we dropship from 1688 compared to Aliexpress Taobao, of course no, we should also take the agent service fee, shipping cost into consideration as we cannot dropship from 1688 directly.

Payment terms

The payment terms are very different between Aliexpress 1688 and Taobao, Aliexpress accepts Alipay (international), paypal, visa, mastercard, moneybookers etc. Thus we can easily pay when we ordered from overseas. When we pay on Taobao there are only 3 ways, Chinese unionpay card, Alipay or international credit card like Visa JCB and Mastercard. The verification process is complicated but once we verified successfully we can order on Taobao.

1688 payment way is totally different from Taobao and Aliexpress, it only accepts Alipay, unionpay card, domestic credit card. You can also pay via USD if you have a HK company account, but it usually for big wholesale business instead of dropshipping, the cost is high. Thus when we want to dropship from 1688 Taobao the payment is a big problem if we do not hire one reliable 1688 Taobao agent.

Product quality

Product quality is key to the success of the dropshipping business, no matter Aliexpress 1688 or Taobao the product quality is related to its price, there’s no best quality with cheapest cost product available, the higher quality requirements the higher price.

When we filter dropshipping suppliers product quality should be always the first principle instead of product price, good quality product always have higher profit margin and better user experience. Thus we should pay more attention to filter dropshipping suppliers on Aliexpress 1688 or Taobao with quality products for dropshipping.

Order fulfillment

The supplier will fulfill orders directly if we dropship from Aliexpress but only Chinese shipping agent will ship the orders if we dropship from 1688 Taobao, for one thing 1688 Taobao suppliers mainly focus on China market, for another thing suppliers usually do not have the shipping ways provided on Aliexpress.

But if we have multiple Aliexpress suppliers we will also need to find an order fulfillment agent to consolidate orders for better user experience, as different suppliers usually come up with different labels and packaging which we should unify, in addition, the shipping cost will be wasted if one order items from multiple suppliers.


The shipping on 1688 Aliexpress and Taobao are also different, 1688 only ship in China thus it only offers domestic courier tracking, Aliexpress ship overseas thus it has china post, epacket, standard shipping, dhl, fedex etc. mainly ship from China to overseas but it doesnt support ship in China. Taobao supports both international and mainland shipping but the shipping cost only restricted to courier service like EMS, DHL, FedEx and UPS which shipping cost is very high.

Thus when we dropship from 1688 Taobao we should find a Chinese order fulfillment agent with small package shipping service which is more stable and cost effective.

Dropshipping cost

The dropshipping cost from Aliexpress 1688 and Taobao are totally different and it closely related to the profit margin, the higher dropshipping cost, the less profit margin and less competitive price then caused lower conversion rates. Let’s take a look the dropshipping cost composition on Aliexpress, 1688 and Taobao:

Aliexpress: product cost + shipping cost(might be free shipping);

Taobao 1688: Product cost+domestic shipping(from supplier to shipping agent warehouse)+ service fee+international shipping cost

Aliexpress product cost usually higher but the total cost might be equal or less due to 1688 taobao supplier cannot ship directly to overseas and the agent charges service fee. If we only have few orders and the average order value is low the dropshipping cost from 1688 Taobao might be higher than Aliexpress.

Label branding

1688 has label branding service if we could meet supplier MOQ, Aliexpress Taobao usually do not have the service unless we have big orders. Although more and more sellers prefer private label dropshipping, it costs extra time and money. Private label dropshipping doesnt suitable for new beginners without stable sales everyday.

After sale

When we dropship from Aliexpress the platform allow us to return or refund if the product quality isnt good, however, if we dropship from 1688 Taobao there’s usually no such service as they mainly offer 7 days free return and exchange service, once the client received the package it’s been already 10 days or half a month.

Thus find a reliable 1688 Taobao agent is very important for dropshipping business as they usually offer quality inspection service to help you check and return flaw products within 7 days, after that period the platform doesnt allow.

Aliexpress VS 1688 Taobao what’s the best one for dropshipping after we compared the advantages and disadvantages of them in different aspectsShipAnt summerized a few tips as a reference:

  1. We will need to estimate dropshipping cost when we plan to dropship from 1688 Taobao since we already know the dropshipping cost on 1688 Taobao not 100% cheaper than Aliexpress;
  2. Aliexpress is better for new beginners as it supports English and no moq orders; When we have stable orders or sell personalized products we can search on 1688 Taobao;
  3. No need to start private label dropshipping from 1688 Taobao if we do not have stable orders or high profit margin;
  4. Select light weight small volume products with high profit margin to dropship;
  5. Find a reliable 1688 Taobao dropshipping agent save lots of time and money;
  6. No matter dropship from Aliexpress 1688 or Taobao focus on quality products and profit margin, we can list a few cheap products to attract traffics but rest products in the store need to have higher profits.

Aliexpress 1688 and Taobao all have their advantages and disadvantages, for general best seller products we can order from 1688 dropshipping suppliers for higher profits and faster delivery, for personalized products we can dropship from Aliexpress Taobao with less risks.