Video: inside the Chain Reaction warehouse
How do they find the product you want amongst 90,000 lines? here's how.....

Ever wondered what happens when you click the buy button on the Chain Reaction website? Well wonder no longer, because CRC have put together this video to show the process from basket to post van. And there's some clever stuff along the way that's helped the online giant increase the number of orders they can fulfil and reduce the number of delivery vans leaving Ballyclare.

I went to the giant Chain Reaction warehouse a couple of months ago to look at the new Vitus bikes, and we had a whistlestop tour of the picking and packing facilities then; this vid gives a really interesting rundown of how their system can ship out up to 24 orders a minute to over a hundred countries across the world.

The pickers all wear a wirelessly networked voice recognition system; it's trained to recognise their voice and also means that pickers can work in whatever language they choose. The picking routes are calculated by the system to be as efficient as possible; after they've selected an item the picker speaks the last digits of the product code into their headset to confirm they've got the right product in the right size. Then it's on to the next product. Some of the guys in the warehouse will be picking ten or more orders at a time.

Once your order box has been filled it goes on the rollers down to the packing room, which is chock-full of a spaghetti junction of box runs and machines. Once your order is in its box CRC use a very clever box sizing process which measures the height of all the products in the order and collapses the box to the minimum size possible. This simple addition to the packing process means 30% less lorries leaving the warehouse every day.

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.


cavasta [216 posts] 4 years ago

Very impressive - this goes a long way towards explaining their superb delivery service. I wonder how many people CRC employ?

One minor qualm about CRC: the smallest size box they use for delivering items can often appear overkill. E.g. I recently ordered a chain ring bolt remover, which was attached to a stiff card backing approx 8cm x 15cm, and it came in a whacking great box that was way too large to fit through the letter box :O. Since I wasn't in at the time I had to arrange collection from the delivery office (hassle and inconvenience). Surely a small jiffy bag would have sufficed.

Apart from that, I really can't fault CRC - competitive prices, excellent customer service and super-fast delivery. Keep up the good work. Is it only a matter of time before CTC adopt them as the official CTC shop?

phax71 [282 posts] 4 years ago

Yeah, mighty impressed here too ..

Only ever had one order go "astray" out of literally dozens over the years and I put that down to thieving Post Office staff in any case..

I know people have had Credit Card problems with CR, me though, couldn't be happier with the service I receive...

mr-andrew [300 posts] 4 years ago

I can't help but wonder what the value of all that stock is?

darrstl [1 post] 4 years ago

So no more tyres hand wrapped in bin bags. I miss that, it had a personal touch.