O Level Revision : Commerce - Communication

Communication is the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium. This exchange of information is very important in commerce and business.


Importance of communication

-      Contact  between buyers, sellers, employers, employees and the public.

-      Contracts, information and bills are made and transmitted fast.

-      Worldwide markets are contacted in writing, orally, visually or physically and thus widen the scope of the market.

-      Contacts are by electronic and print media.

-      Debts are speedily settled.


Postal services

-     Most postal services in Zimbabwe are offered by Zimbabwe Post (ZIMPOST) through its nationwide post office branches.

-      There however are also private players like SWIFT, FedEx and DHL who provide some of the services offered by ZIMPOST.


a) Ordinary post

-      Consumers buy postage stamps and stick them to letters, postcards and other printed materials.

-     Stamped materials are inserted in postal boxes.

-     Postage is cheap.

-     The post office date-stamps the letters and delivers letters.


b) Business reply service

-      A licence allows the trader to send out reply paid envelopes and cards to customers.

-     Customers send replies to traders without having to pay for postage stamps.

-     Business or licensee pays for received replies.

-     Service is used in marketing, research and mail order business.


c) Franking machines

-     A firm applies and pays a fee for a licence to make prepaid postage.

-     Post office sets and periodically resets a printing recording meter.

-     A licence allows a business to use a franking machine.

-     Postage payable is printed on each envelope.

-     The machine records prepaid postage.

-     Saves time and labour for buying and sticking stamps.

-     Used by large firms to send several letters to many clients.


d) Freepost

-     The customers send letters without paying postage.

-     The addressee pays the postage on all replies received.


e) Poste restante

-     Letters and parcels to be called for are  addressed to concerned post office.

-      Words Poste Restante or To Be Called For are inscribed on the item as part of the address.

-     Addressee identifies self at the post office.

-     Addressee collects the item or letter upon production of positive identification.


f) Data post

-     A door to door overnight collection and morning delivery service.

-     A delivery on contractual basis.

-     For items such as computer tapes, data CDs and important data documents.


g) Private boxes and bags

-     Businesses rent private boxes and bags.

-     An annual fee is payable.

-     Letters addressed to boxes and bags are collectable by licensees.

-     Keys are issued for each box and bag.

-     Mail collectable daily.


h) Cash on delivery (C.O.D)

-     Goods may be sent to an addressee.

-      Post office employee delivers and collects the amount on behalf of the consignor or sender.


i) Recorded delivery

-     Delivery of a letter or parcel by a messenger direct to recipient.

-     Receiver acknowledges receipt by signing for it.

-     Compensation is paid if the item is lost where proof of delivery is necessary.


j) Registered post

-     Is used when posting cash or valuable items and documents.

-     An extra fee is charged.

-     Provides security and insurance in transit.

-     Owner receives compensation if the item is lost.

-     Provides proof of posting and delivery.

k) Express mail service (EMS)

-      Offers  fast  national  and  international  delivery  of  letters,  documents  and packages.

-     Charges are based on weight, volume, value and distance.

-     Goods are delivered within 72 hours to any destination.

-     Valuable items are delivered fast, safely and securely.

-     Items are corded and the sender is issued with a number to track and trace transit

- enables sender to check progress, delays or loss of items.

-     In the event of loss, theft or damage, the sender or receiver is compensated


l) Fast parcel service

-      Items are delivered to customers` residents.

-      Items can be collected from customer`s premises for delivery elsewhere.

-     Delivery is guaranteed within 24hours nationally.

-     Insurance fees are payable for valuable items.


  1. Telecommunication services


a) Telephone

-     Cheapest, quickest and most direct means of communication.

-     Contacts over any distance.

-     May be dialed direct over automatic or operator controlled phones.


b) Telex

-     Is an automatic system of sending and receiving messages.

-     The sender types the message on the tele-printer.

-     The message is transmitted by telephone to the receiver`s tele-printer.

-     The receiver’s tele-printer decodes and prints it.

-     Makes speedy contacts between subscribers.

-     Transactions are recorded.

-     Messages may be received when tele-printer is unattended or when the office is



c) Datel service

-      Allows data transmission of coded information e.g. details of cheques and orders via the telephone network.

-     Is economical and convenient for users with limited data communication needs.


d) Fax (facsimile)

-      Sends and receives pictures, drawings, graphics or forms electronically or in software.

-     Transmissions are for home and abroad.

e) Video conferencing

-     Links a firm’s officials and its customer in sound and vision.

-     Conferences of groups in different locations can be held.

-     Used widely by news media.

-     Saves on travelling and accommodation costs.

-     Fast, instant and reliable contacts.


f) Prestel

-      A service which allows a telephone subscriber to obtain information on prices and stock values, on to adapted television screens through the telephone network.


g) Private mobile radio (Radio Paging)

-      A privately owned radio and paging system used by business and service industries.

-     Gives a two-way link between head office and branch networks.

-     Business persons are contactable at any time and place.

-     Call-me-backs are possible.


h) Internet

-     Businesses now use :

  • e-advertising to inform buyers of available items.
  • e-commerce to trade without physical interaction.
  • e-insurance to enter, agree, and seal contracts.
  • e-learning to apply, register and learn through materials sourced via internet.


i) Electronic mail (e-mail)

-     A computer, modem and telephone are means to effect messages.

-     Messages are typed on a computer and transmitted over the telephone lines and downloaded from recipient’s computer.

-     Both sender and receiver need e-mail addresses and passwords.

-     Messages are typed, set, sent and received fast any time.

-     Messages can be saved, stored, archived, retrieved or erased.

-      Smartphones and iPhones have inbuilt computers and modems; they offer email services.


j) Mobile phone

-     Provide mobile phone, satellite and internet services.

-     Make and receive calls on cell to cell.

-     Make and receive calls on fixed landline to cell.

-     Divert calls to mailbox.

-     Write and send short message service (SMS) to one or many persons.

-     Receive and reply SMS.

-     Delete, edit and forward SMS.

-     Convert calls to voice mail, store and retrieve later.

-     Receive, save and send picture and video messages.

-     Conference with others in separate areas.


Trends in telecommunication services


a) Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) broadband

-      ADSL Broadband service allows customers to access the internet at selected high speeds while in the comfort of their homes, work or anywhere where there is Wi-Fi connection.

-     Software downloads

-     Online gaming

-     Chatting and e-mail

-     Affordable, fast, and reliable


b) WhatsApp

-      Is a proprietary, cross-platform instant messaging service for Android and other smartphones that use the internet for communication.

-     Users download and install the WhatsApp messenger.

-     Messages are texted.

-     Users can send images, videos, and audio messages.

-     Fast, reliable, safe and cheap media for communication.

-      Users can form social or business groups where one message is seen by all members on the group.


c) Twitter

-     Is an online social networking service.

-     Users send and read short character messages.

-     Messages are called tweets.

-     Registered users can read and post tweets.

-     Unregistered users can only read tweets

-     Users access Twitter via website interface, SMS or mobile device application.

-     An effective contact facility.

-     A powerful marketing and advertising tool.

-     Costs very little to market a product on Twitter.

-     Businesses use Twitter for boosting their internet marketing activities.

d) WI-FI (Wifi or WiFi)

-     Acronym for Wireless Fidelity.

-      Is a local area wireless technology that allows an electronic device to exchange data or to connect to the internet using radio waves.

-      Uses  wireless  local  area  network  products  like  computers,  video-games consoles, smartphones, digital cameras, tablet computers and digital audio players.

-      Connects to a network resource such as the Internet via wireless network access point

-      Access point or hotspot has a range of about 20 metres  indoors and a greater range outdoors

-      Large organisations like airports, hotels, schools often provide free-use hotspots to attract customers.

-     Accessed from any convenient location within network environment daily for 24 hours.

-     Users maintain constant affiliation to their desired network.

-     Users can do their work from any convenient location.

-     Initial access point can serve a large environment.

-     Access points can be widened to serve an increased clientele.

-      Increased wireless networking hardware costs are outweighed by savings in cost associated with running physical cables.



-      Security: no effective encryption technologies; a dedicated adversary can use access point

-     Range of network is limited to tens of metres.

-     Costs for additional access points can be high.

-     Network signals are subject to interference.

-     Is slower than the common wired networks.


e) Facebook

-     Is a free online social networking service.

-     Registered users create personal profiles

-     Users invite and add other users as friends.

-     Friends exchange text messages, post updates and photos, videos.

-     Users keep in touch with friends, families and colleagues.

-     Allows members to post, read and respond to issues.

-     Groups of common interests can be formed for constant interaction

-      Members publicise events; invite others to events; receive and respond to invitations.

-     Allows members to create and promote a public page built  around a specific topic.

-     Allows members to see which contacts are online and chat.

-     Engages many people simultaneously

-     A powerful advertising and marketing media as it reaches out to many people.


Determinants for choice of communication mode


a) Cost

-     Cheaper modes are preferred.

-     Reduces business expenses.


b) Speed

-     Electronic preferred to print.

-     Urgently send and receive messages.


c) Accuracy

-     Printed transmissions preferred as they provide a record.

-     Records available on files.


d) Record

-     Can be examined.

-     Business contracts are binding.

-     Can be referred to later.


e) Safety

-     Safety and security is important in business.


Multiple choice questions


  1. Which service provides a written recorded message and an immediate reply?
  2. Telephone B.   Datel
  3. Prestel  D.   Telegram


A.  Business reply service

B.   Datapost

C.  Franking machines

D.   Free post


Why do firms use the telex?



(i)   It  is fast.



(ii) It gives a written record.



(iii) It sends an immediate reply.



  1. Which facility does a large shop use to send monthly statements of accounts to its many customers?

  1. (i) and (ii)  B.   (i) and (iii)
  2. (ii) and (iii)  D.   (i), (ii) and (iii)
  3. How many mobile network service providers are in Zimbabwe?


A.  2



C.  4




A conference call allows




A.   instant dialing of calls.


diverting of calls.


C.   listening to voice messages.


sharing in the same call.


On a smartphone, one can access




A.  Facebook, Datel and WhatsApp.


Datel, Twitter and WiFi.


C.  WhatsApp, WiFi and Datel.


WiFi, Facebook and WhatsApp.


Essay questions


  1. State, with reasons, the postal service one would use to: a)  send a valuable document from Harare to Bulawayo. b)   collect mail at any time.
  2. Explain the importance of a)  Telex
  3. b) WhatsApp
  4. Explain three services that Zimbabwe Post offers to traders.
  5. How has Facebook  benefitted:
  6. a) the trader?
  7. b) the consumer?
  8. Explain the services of a cellular phone.
  9. Explain the advantages of WiFi.
  10. What are the advantages of Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL)?