The location where a predetermined standard inventory is kept to supply downstream processes.

Supermarkets ordinarily are located near the supplying process to help that process see customer usage and requirements. Each item in a supermarket has a specific location from which a material handler withdraws products in the precise amounts needed by a downstream process. As an item is removed, a signal to make more (such as a kanban card or an empty bin) is taken by the material handler to the supplying process.

Toyota installed its first supermarket in 1953 in the machine shop of its main plant in Toyota City. (Ohno 1988, p. 27.) Toyota executive Taiichi Ohno took the idea for the supermarket from photos of American supermarkets showing goods arrayed on shelves by specific location for withdrawal by customers. (Ohno and Mito 1988, p. 16.)