Localization Fail: Imperial vs. Metric System

In the section, Localization Fails we bring you real-life examples of online businesses failing in localization. And we don’t mean just content localization, but also other areas. The first one in this series is a great example of ignoring differences between your audiences. Specifically in offering Imperial (US) system to non-US visitors who are using Metric system (for example using feet and inches vs. centimeters). Proper Cloth is a men’s shirt company from New York featured in some of the top tier media line New York Times, Esquire, GQ etc. Launched in 2008 and mostly selling online and shipping to all countries. That makes sense, they do beautiful shirts and I got their Facebook ad quite a few times. I have to admit the Facebook ad has some excellent copywriting, especially the page title “Why This Shirt Company Is Causing so Many Guys to Switch” is a masterpiece and really made me wonder why. So I clicked.

Proper Cloth Facebook Ad with Excellent Copy
Proper Cloth Facebook Ad with Excellent Copy

I have landed on the long landing page with main call-to-action “GENERATE YOUR SIZE NOW“. After scrolling down and seeing some of the shirts which are really beautiful I have decided to proceed. And now the fun part begins. Or sad and stressing actually.

How Tall Are You in Feet & Inches?

The whole processes of generating a custom shirt size is a 11-step form with questions which are ought to be simple.

  1. So the first question of the form to generate my shirt size is a simple question every man can probably answer – “What size t-shirts do you typically wear?” OK, I know this, that’s L size.
  2. Second question is the crucial one  – “How tall are you?” OK, 183 centimeters, but wait. There are some quotes and numbers like 5’9″ I figured that’s probably the Imperial (US) system. So I was looking for a switch from Imperial to Metric, but no luck. So I googled “183 cm to feet”. OK, good that’s about 6 feet.
  3. Third question got me again – “How much do you weigh?” In pounds! So again I use Google to transform kilograms to pounds and continue. At this point I am pretty much determined to finish the whole process because it already took me like 10 minutes.
  4. Fourth question I had no idea how relevant it is when it comes to shirt size – “Which best describes your ethnicity?” And to be honest I again had to use Google to confirm Caucasian = white (no offence please). I was encouraging myself “You can do this!”
  5. Fifth question actually made me to stand up from my computer – “What is your suit jacket size (if you know it)?” I had no idea, so I went to my closet to check and most of my jackets/blazers are size 52. Good, that’s it. But the form has sizes from 36 to 51, so I realized it’s again some different size unit. I am giving up and skipping this question.
  6. Sixt question – “What is the waist size of your pants?” This one is easy, 32 and it is in the form in the middle section, so it’s probably right! Whooo! Motivation going up again.
  7. Seventh question – “Which best describes your midsection?” Luckily there are images, so I have decided I am “pretty fit“. 7 out of 11 done!
  8. But the eighth question is the end of story for me – “What is your collar size (if you know it)?” I am pretty sure it’s 41, but can’t find this number in a given ratio from 13 to 20.5. So I skip the question to get even the more confusing one “What is your sleeve length (if you know it)?” I have absolutely no idea and if I skip that would be third skipped question out of eleven, so chance that the generated size will fit me is pretty low. So I drop-off at this point.
Proper Cloth Form with Question "How tall are you?"
Proper Cloth Form with Question “How tall are you?”

I’m Not The Only One Confused

I went back to original Facebook ad to post a comment and give these guys some hint. But there are already lot of people saying the same thing. In fact the most liked comment says “Guys at Proper Cloth, not everyone lives in the feet-and-inches world. You’ve just missed a client (me) coz I live in that distant, but so popular and densely inhabited centimeter-and-meter universe.” To which I can totally relate. My recommendation to Proper Cloth is to either make the form localized and offer also metric system, or change the Facebook ad targeting. Our tip Before launching a form, get users from the targeted regions to go and try to go through it. You can ask your friends – even online testing will do the job. This will help you to reveal the basic mistakes like in this example.

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