8 Excel Formulas Every Small Retail Business Can Use



Here’s how utilizing formulas in Excel streamlines operations saves time, and reduces error

If your business is too small to invest in high-tech analysis tools but too big to manage on paper alone, Microsoft Excel could greatly benefit you.

Having withstood the test of time, Excel has proven to be a reliable, accurate, and versatile spreadsheet and analysis tool that SME businesses have come to naturally rely on. The easy-to-use layout and broad variety of features make it the perfect program for managing finances, data analysis, and much more.

But as popular as it is, to expedite usage processes many of the retail businesses that use Excel only utilize a fraction of its full potential. By learning about the many built-in formulas designed, you can unlock a whole new frontier of Excel that saves time, promotes growth, and streamlines your accounting.


What Are Formulas And How Do They Work?

You’re forgiven if the concept of Excel formulas has escaped you up until this point. Even without them, this widely used program is still capable of meeting basic but essential administrative needs for new businesses or those that have been around for a while. However, using Excel without formulas removes half—or more—of its functionality.

By learning about formulas, you can save a significant amount of time. So, what exactly are they?

Formulas are built-in functions that improve the accuracy and speed at which you edit and use spreadsheets. By entering certain key combinations, you can “hack” your way into creating exact structures and optimize the administrative responsibilities associated with retail SME management.

There’s a staggering total of 475 different formulas in the Excel library. Fortunately, you only need to know a handful to significantly improve your business processes.

Below are eight of the most popularly used formulas within the SME retail management sector.


1. Sum, Count, and Average

=SUM, =COUNT and =AVERAGE are the bread and butter of Excel formulas. Enabling users to make quick, intuitive calculations, these three formulas can help you to tally up financials at the click of a button.

=SUM allows you to find the precise total of any numbers in the columns you choose to select. Its formula becomes active by typing =SUM. If the numbers are too spread out for you to select, you can alternatively add the first and last cell numbers in parentheses: =SUM(A7:B3).

=COUNT adds the number of cells inside an array that contains a numerical value and can make fast, accurate, statistical calculations.

=AVERAGE does exactly what it sounds like it does. Finds the average of any numbers you select. All three of these type-in formulas can be total game changers for the way you navigate sales, stock, profits, and more.


2. Conditional Formatting

This formula allows you to program cell blocks to turn a certain color when a number or number range of your choice gets entered. This can be very useful when you want to glance over a spreadsheet and understand numeric values without going through each separate cell.

Simply select your preferred range of cells and press the Conditional Formatting button. From there, you will be able to choose colors and formatting styles to correspond with your chosen number range.


3. Autofill

Autofill is used to fill in a large quantity of sequential dates or numbers. The range can get filled in with either alphabetical or numerical digits, which must then get copied from the originally selected cell. Alternatively, you can also choose a range based on a pattern created by your selected cells.

To activate the Autofill formula, simply left-click your mouse and drag the provided plus sign over any cells you want to fill.


4. Flashfill

Flashfill is an extension of Autofill. It allows you to enter high volumes of new data instantaneously and efficiently. Activate Flashfill by entering your source data into a cell and then pressing Ctrl+E. Excel will do the work for you!


5. Vertical Lookup

Also known as =VLOOKUP, the Vertical Lookup formula is a powerful tool that helps you quickly search for the inherent value of a selected column or cell. One of its most popular uses is to find total costs in a stocktaking spreadsheet.

To initiate =VLOOKUP, input the formula, and then parentheses holding the lookup value. Example: =VLOOKUP(C4:T10:B7). This will enable you to designate a TRUE or FALSE status for each cell block.


6. Proper

We’ve all encountered a spreadsheet fraught with spelling errors, misplaced capitalization, and other improper textual or numerical inputs. The =PROPER formula can correct these mistakes based on the traditional, proper approach to data.

All that’s needed is for you to enter =PROPER into one selected cell, followed by the first and last cell numbers you want to correct, such as =PROPER(C2:H9).


7. Forecast Linear

The formula FORECAST.LINEAR can predict the value of a future cell by following a linear pattern or trend. It’s an essential SME retail business formula because it allows you to predict future engagement and sales trends.

To access FORECAST.LINEAR, simply input the keys where you want to start the prediction. If you add .ETS to the end of your formula (FORECAST.LINEAR.ETS), you can view future predictions that have been adjusted to accommodate for seasonality and long-term trajectory.


8. Array

An Array formula can execute multiple calculations simultaneously. Essentially, an Array is a collection of cells containing similar values, and they can take the form of columns, rows, or even a combination of both.

Sometimes called the CSE formula, the Array function is accessed by selecting Ctrl+Shift+Enter. It’s great for making complex calculations quickly and easily. It’s also ideal for use in an Excel invoice template if you need to include multiple costs for line items and various columns for tax and other additions.


Final Thoughts

Considering how long it’s been around (since 1985), Microsoft Excel has done an impressive job of providing businesses with the tools and services they need to keep up with the demands of modern retail business management.

Veritably indispensable to most SME businesses, Excel proves that reinventing the wheel is not necessary when you have the basics down to a fine art. By educating yourself on these supportive program formulas, managing your business over time can only get easier.


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