Useful and best Excel tools for analyzing sales data


This is a general question about how to most simply & efficiently use Excel tools to analyze sales data contained in a spreadsheet. My goal is to obtain some general guidelines which I can then begin to learn and apply. And I'm sure that process will spawn additional, more specific EE threads.

For example, suppose you've got a spreadsheet containing sales transactions (numbering in the thousands) in which each row represents a single transaction and column headings are as follows:

Trans #
Trans ID
Amount (USD)
Invoice #
First Name
Last Name
Custom1 (Yes/No)

From that data, suppose you want to create a summary chart(s) showing information such as the following:

• Number of transactions per month.

• Number of customers making purchases per month.

• Number of new vs. established customers making purchases per month.
      a) where "established" is defined as existing in a separate spreadsheet
      b) where "established" is defined as existing earlier in the same spreadsheet

• Characteristics of dollar amount per sale (eg average dollar amt per sale, etc)
      a) including chart showing distribution curve

• Purchase patterns vs. time of day.

• Any of the above broken down by, for example, Custom1 Yes vs. No

What would be the best way to approach this?

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The short answer: pivot tables.

Select your data and then choose Insert/Pivot Table.

You can then dynamically drag items to row/columns and summarise the data almost any way you want to, including grouping dates/times into Years/Months/Days/Hours/Minutes or custom-groupings that you define.

You can also choose how to summarise numeric data in the detail area  by sum, average etc.

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Ingeborg Hawighorst (Microsoft MVP / EE MVE)Microsoft MVP ExcelCommented:
... and when you've hit the limits for Pivot Tables: Power Pivot.
WeThotUWasAToadAuthor Commented:
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