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Indonesia's Sorabel, a 'Zara on steroids', sees magic in retail stores

Online venture also uses AI to spot fashion trends: "trumpet sleeves" prove a best-seller

Sorabel's AI looks at over 1,300 data points, including app usage, to tell the company what it should stock up on. (Photo by Kandida Ardi Nugraha)

JAKARTA -- Armed with an artificial intelligence application that helps it to spot fashion trends, and supported by what it claims is a clear path to profits, Indonesian fashion e-tailing Sorabel talks the usual talk of all startups except that it is also turning to a retail model from yesteryear to gain customers: actual physical stores.        

Sorabel, which started in 2014 as a online marketplace for cheap and mainly women's clothes, says more than 50% of its online orders come from outside Java, the most populous and prosperous part of the archipelago. To match that, it now plans to open 15 physical shops by the end of 2020, mostly in small provincial cities.

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