Space Matrix, a Singapore-based design firm has now acquired Pursuite, one of Asia’s first and biggest B2B e-commerce platforms for procuring furniture, fixtures, and equipment.
Space Matrix which is one of the largest office space designers in the world by revenue has made the acquisition in an attempt to make the planning and execution of office designs much more seamless according to the company’s top executives.
Thought leaders in the industry are of the opinion that the acquisition could indicate a trend of design firms that are seeking ways by which they could sell products and services through the already-established e-commerce platform in order to further reach their global audience easily.
“The annual addressable market size of the workplace design and build industry in Asia alone is more than circa S$15 billion [US$10.8 billion],” said Arsh Chaudhry, CEO of Space Matrix.
“However, the process of procuring products and services to build an office is still very archaic and is filled with multiple issues including cost and time unpredictability, quality and consistency of products, price transparency, governance, and even product discovery. Hence, the applicability of a digital procurement platform like Pursuite for the workplace sector is immense.”
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Being an international design firm, Space Matrix has about 16 offices across the globe in major countries such as Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and the United States.
“As a design and build company with high procurement volumes, setting up a commerce platform is a natural progression and in line with our plans to be a tech-first firm,” Chaudhry said.
With the new plans, the design giant is expected to bring over 1,500 vendors across Singapore, India, China, and the rest of Southeast Asia aboard its new Pursuite acquisition.
Other innovative measures the company is said to have in place include the usage of AI and machine learning to mine design data and provide valuable insights for its clients in designing future offices.
Based on revenue, Space Matrix is the sixth-largest design firm in the world. Interior Design, a popular design publication firm wrote that Space Matrix charges about US$36.34 million in design fees last year making it in line with five other design firms that are based in mainland China and Hong Kong.
While the design industry has upgraded and improved various points in the design process, Chaudhry said, “procurement and project management have been inadequately addressed”.
“What matters is that the conceived design also can be built as per the intent, and this is what influenced our decision to acquire Pursuite,” he said. “We have plans to further expand our operations in Southeast Asia. The acquisition of Pursuite will enable us to streamline and enhance our capability to deliver projects.”
Thanks to the global pandemic in 2020 that forced companies to adopt a new model of working which often include hybridization of work culture, high demand for office redesign in places such as Singapore, Southeast Asia, and India, the acquisition would certainly be a great deal for the company according to Chaudhry.
“The procurement process and the associated supply chain in the workplace sector are extremely disjointed, and technology has a significant role to play in solving it,” said Amit Shukla, founder, and CEO of Pursuite.
“We were trying to address this opportunity as an independent technology service provider. However, with Space Matrix and its annual throughput of clients and business across Asia, we have the ability to immediately deploy our technology solutions against a very large total addressable market, and hit the ground running a lot faster.”
Shukla will also be joining Space Matrix as its global chief technology officer and will be responsible for shaping the company’s global technological vision and fostering new skills tied to data, analytics, and machine learning.
Even as a B2B e-commerce platform, there are suggestions made by Sing Tien Foo, a professor, and director of the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies at the University of Singapore that Space Matrix could sell directly to consumers.
“More firms are creating their omnichannel [structure] to sell their products, and e-commerce firms also extend their distribution and fulfillment to consumers by integrating their online platform with physical stores, which some call a ‘phygital’ model,” Sing said.
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