Navigating the charging station models available

What is better – an open tray charging station or a lock box model? Which one is the best for your venue? We examined the pros and cons of each – the results will surprise you!

There are two types of charging stations. The first is called an ‘open ledge’ or ‘open tray’. This is where the ‘charger’ docks their phone on the charging station’s tray and must wait by their phone whilst it recharges. The second is called a ‘lock box’. This is where small lockers are provided, allowing the charger to connect their device to the appropriate charging cable, then lock it securely away with either a key or pin number.

We’ve taken a deeper look into each model to assess the pro’s and con’s of each and ultimately help you decide which is better for your venue.

Open ledge/tray


The number one advantage is that it forces the user to wait by their phone, increasing dwell time in the venue and boosting sales

The customer is solely responsible for monitoring their device – the venue takes no responsibility for the device

Typically more users can charge at once (as recharging time is shorter)

Unit size is typically smaller and wall mountable

Require less maintenance e.g. replacing lost keys, retrieving devices and cleaning the lockers

Operationally easier, i.e. security don’t need to get involved if key/pin is lost

Users are required to wait by their device
We bet by now you’re thinking ‘…but won’t the phone get stolen?’

The answer is a resounding no. People value their phones more than their wallets and won’t leave it unattended. When the service is free, users can simply disconnect if they need to go somewhere, e.g. the bathroom, and then reconnect when they return. Over 250,000 devices have been charged now in the Australian market and there are never any reports of lost or stolen devices. And even if a device were to go missing, it is neither the venue’s fault nor problem, as all charging kiosks clearly state that it is the user’s responsibility to monitor it. If you’re still not convinced, we encourage you to contact one of the hundreds of venues with open ledge/tray models and let them support what we’re saying.

Locker box models


Users can lock their phone away whilst it is charging and don’t have to wait

Users are able to recharge for longer, getting more battery power


As soon as the pone goes into the locker, it becomes the venues responsibility

Customers lose pin numbers, keys, lock combination codes or tickets, requiring venue security to become involved. If it is a busy Saturday night, this is a big operational hassle. If for some reason the locker is broken into or security gives the wrong phone to the wrong person it is the venues liability! Just imagine if an 18 year old girl’s phone, with all her private photos, emails, text etc got into the hands of a bad guy and it ended up on the internet…. is your venue willing to take on that potential liability?

Venues must keep the lockers clean from rubbish e.g. meat pies (don’t laugh, this has actually happened on three separate occasions)

Lockers tend to fill up very quickly and get ‘hogged’, and it is visibly difficult for a customer to see when the locker is available

People forget their phone and call up after hours trying to retrieve it

People will walk into venues to use the service, but won’t hang around while it is recharging, resulting in a much lower number of sales. Our research has shown that only 32% of people will buy something whilst waiting, versus 89% for open tray.

Chargebar recommendation:

Chargebar offer both open tray and locker box models. We’ve had 18 months in-market experience and tested all models. There is no one size fits all, but if there is one, we believe it’s the open tray style. The fundamental problem with lock boxes is that the responsibility for the phone transfer to the venue as soon as someone locks their phone away. For us – and many venues – this is a total deal breaker. Venues do not want the potential liability of someone’s phone ending up in the wrong hands. There are ways to mitigate this, however it creates too much of an operational burden for the venue managers.

We think the open tray is neat, simple and hassle free. And it ultimately has the biggest increase in sales. Users of the service will spend 10 to 15 minutes in the venues and our research indicates that a whopping 90% of customers will purchase something whilst waiting for their phone to recharge. The impact on sales is measurable, significant and real.

In our view this is the single best feature of any charging station – something a lockbox doesn’t do even close to as well. Lock box models reduce the dwell time and result in significant lost sales opportunities.

Open ledge trays provide a simple solution for both customer and venue and provide the greatest return on investment.

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