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Lack of visibility across departments drove The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. to take a long, hard look at its real estate process.

The Quincy, Mass.-based division of Ahold USA, the domestic arm of Dutch food conglomerate Royal Ahold, recognized in mid-2005 that its static method for managing and storing real estate-related documents such as construction, insurance and lease records prevented different areas of the company from accessing critical information.

“We needed a central repository for all of our data and documents,” said Susan Uttal, manager, real estate legal documents for the grocery chain. “We also needed them in a place where all relevant areas of the company—including construction, insurance, maintenance, real estate and lease administration—could access the information, and we needed it summarized to administer a larger number of locations.”

Stop & Shop’s real estate, lease administration and legal departments total as many as 100 people, and all require visibility into a variety of documents. Enter AMTdirect, a Cornelius, N.C.-based real estate solution provider, which transitioned Stop & Shop from departmental silos to a Web-based SaaS (Software as a Service) solution.

“We use the AMTdirect technology for research and analysis, and the real estate department can pull up whatever data they need on new sites, or to see what stores we already have in the area,” Uttal said.

In April, Stop & Shop announced plans to open five new stores acquired from Shaw’s in Connecticut. The Internet-based application has allowed the grocer to streamline the management of its real estate portfolio, including the newest additions to the chain. “We are able to add new locations to the database, perform both accounts payable and accounts receivable activities and, with the lease abstraction solution, our attorneys have reduced the amount of paperwork they have to generate,” Uttal said.

In addition to other core functionality, Stop & Shop is using the AMTdirect operating expense management module, which tracks operating expenses such as Common Area Maintenance, taxes and insurance, as well as “significant document management systems usage for which they track all real estate-related documents,” explained Daniel Schubert, president, AMTdirect.

“When Stop & Shop launched the use of the software in 2005, they were at the forefront of the movement toward the Internet-computing space,” Schubert said. “With its five years on the system, Stop & Shop would be considered a longtime user of Internet-based technology.”

The retailer recently executed a five-year contract renewal with AMTdirect, continuing the overall industry trend of managing real estate assets online. The software will continue to allow Stop & Shop to effectively manage a real estate portfolio that has thousands of lease files and is “all over the board,” Uttal said. “Our typical site is 50,000 sq. ft., and we look at all types of deals—from pad sites to ground leases to fully owned locations. The deal depends on the economic conditions and what fits for a particular location or market,” she added.

There are many advantages in using a SaaS-based software application, one of those being that there aren’t multiple versions to update or maintain. “One big advantage of Web-based solutions is that there are no alternative versions to maintain or worry about; you’re always on the most recent version without doing a thing,” Schubert said. “That’s just one of many advantages of SaaS, and why it’s so different from client server-based solutions.”

© 2014