Future Shapers: BloomThis Co-Founder On The Use Of AI In Floristry

Business is blooming for BloomThis, an online florist business that combines technology and the human touch in their work.


Sending and receiving flowers have long been a way humanity shows their affection to one another. More than just stalks of colourful growth from the tip of a tree that we bound together into a bouquet, we give meanings to its colour, its number, and which particular flower is best suited for an occasion.

Founded in 2015, BloomThis has grown into a household name when it comes to flower gifting, expanding from a simple idea Penny Choo and her husband had, to bring his family’s humble florist shop in Penang into the 21st century. “He has always been in that business from watching how his mother does it, and he wants to bring it to the digital world. That’s how it started,” Choo said.

Having a visual catalogue that people can peruse is itself a game-changer compared to the previous method of running to a nearby florist and hoping that they have the flowers that you want and can groom them into a bouquet that fits your particular need. Given how some people have preferences over what they want—sometimes very exacting—that is a tall order to many.

Steady Growth 

Starting from a labour of love between her and her partner, she is now in charge of a booming business that is crucial to many of her customers, be it those who rely on it for their own personal relationships with their significant persons, as well as businesses that rely on their service.

Having navigated through the infamously confusing “spaghetti interchange” that connects three of Klang Valley’s major highways—the LDP, Penchala Link, and the new DASH—to meet Choo in Damansara Perdana, a realisation emerged that she and her husband had succeeded in more than just taking the flower business online.

Driving up and down these layers of concrete road shed light on the complexity behind BloomThis’ operation, particularly its biggest selling point: on-demand deliveries within 4 hours from the point of order. “It is definitely crazy,” Choo admitted. “Back when my mother-in-law was running her florist in Penang, the most she can handle in a day is 20 deliveries.”

Imagine waking up on a special day for your special someone and forgetting to get them flowers. Let’s be honest, it happens. A quick jump onto BloomThis’ well-laid-out website before breakfast and your significant other will get their bouquet by lunchtime and your day is saved! I know mine has, a point of gratitude that I repeatedly told Choo. 

Equally crucial is the promise of “what you see is what you get”, which takes the guesswork out of the decision-making, giving customers peace of mind with their purchase.

Flowers and AI

The simplicity of the website and the professionally shot photos therein hides the fact that BloomThis is not just an online florist but instead, a high-tech logistic company that employs the use of artificial intelligence – AI – to assess the best route – turn-by-turn – for their delivery team to use to ensure the most efficient use of their time, not to mention living up to that four-hour promise. “In order for us to scale this, automation and operation excellence have to be in place,” Choo said. “So that’s why we develop our proprietary technology system that helps us to distribute the order basically.”

The challenge is to optimise the delivery in terms of cost, efficiency and time to deliver to the customer at that particular time. The success of this AI-powered backend is evident in the company’s expansion into offering artisanal cakes, ice creams, and food items—things with a much shorter shelf life than flowers—while still maintaining that service performance that many have come to rely on.

“It is quite impossible for the human brain, so that’s why we have our own proprietary system to help us plot the route,” she said.


Penny Choo with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5.

With over 100 employees—and more than half in operations—BloomThis is a labour-intensive business. Investment in robotics to tackle the menial jobs of cutting the hundreds of flowers they have to process on any particular day is crucial to ensure that the operation runs smoothly and their customers’ days are not ruined. The precision provided by these machines is also essential to deliver the “what you see is what you get” promise as every product is made to exact specifications.

While advances in AI and robotics have given her business a clear advantage, Penny believes that it is in no way making humans redundant. Freed from the menial and repetitive tasks, she said that the human man can instead focus on the creativity aspect. “We have to really get down to that,” she said. “While artificial entities can do so many things, creativity is the personal human value that we have.”

A Flourishing Future  

With any business, expansion is something that is on the horizon for BloomThis. Having cornered the economic centres of Penang, Klang Valley, Johor Bahru and Singapore, Penny is looking to expand the business into more geographical locations, as well as “other channels”.

In a strange twist of fate, that idea led BloomThis back to its original founding idea, with the company opening brick-and-mortar centres for customers who want to physically come and experience their product, instead of just perusing for items online. One, is at the new KPJ Damansara 2 hospital, while the other is at their warehouse. 

“We have this initiative of going offline because people want to see tangible things,” she said. With a business that relies a lot on advanced technologies—some surpassing human capabilities—such sentiment echoes the continued importance of the human touch in doing business.

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