3 commerce technology terms that can help you navigate your digital future

The Language of Modern Commerce, Part 4: Three tech terms you need to know right now

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
Corporate Journalist, commercetools
Published 19 June 2023
Estimated reading time minutes

As commerce continues to evolve, new technology, innovations and concepts continually enter industry vernacular. And while it’s amazing to see all these advances opening up new opportunities for business growth, keeping up with all of them all at once is a tall order for any leader. That’s why we launched our glossary series. Each installment offers up definitions and explanations for three new terms that keep popping up in conversation.

3 commerce technology terms that can help you navigate your digital future

Our first blog tackled APIs, the cloud and composable commerce. The second clarified the meanings of digital experience composition (DXC), extensibility and frictionless. And, for the third, we focused on frontend/backend, GraphQL and headless commerce. Today, we’re serving up Kubernetes, interactive product visualization and legacy platform. So, go ahead and read on, we’re sharing exactly what you need to know about all three!


Often referred to as K8s, Kubernetes, pronounced koo-br-neh-teez, is an open-source software Google launched in 2014. To understand what it does and why it’s a key tool for developers, we first have to explain what a container is since Kubernetes supports containerized applications. A container is a piece of software that bundles everything an application might need to run with all of the related configuration files, libraries and dependencies into a single package. This makes it portable, so developers can run it anywhere without having to write it again.

What Kubernetes does is automate the operational tasks of container management. It has built-in commands that make it easier and faster for developers to deploy applications, roll out changes, and scale up and down to fit changing needs. It also handles the computing, networking and storage on behalf of workloads and continuously runs health checks. These capabilities combined improve reliability and give developers more time to focus on application development.

Each microservice is deployed into the cloud region using Kubernetes and maintains its own application layer, datastore, and infrastructure, enabling expert teams to deploy updates through independent development and release cycles quickly.
commercetools’ Resiliency eBook


Imagine the dynamics of a restaurant. To be successful, it has to consistently deliver great food and service, and a lot of working parts go into making that happen. At the core, is the restaurant manager, who is continually orchestrating in the background to maintain optimum quality and efficiency. The manager is the Kubernetes of this scenario.

Instead of managing food and staff, Kubernetes manages containers. Just like restaurants have a specific recipe for each dish, and use the same ingredients each time it's ordered, Kubernetes deploys containers each time they’re needed. It also continuously monitors and makes adjustments as needed.  By doing so, Kubernetes keeps technology operations running smoothly so users can enjoy consistently seamless experiences.

Download the commercetools’ Resiliency eBook to learn more about how commercetools leverages Kubernetes to support the scalability, availability and resiliency of our products and ensure they exceed current expectations and continually meet evolving needs.

Interactive Product Visualization

As you’re already aware, to turn an online shopper into a buyer, brands have to do more than just present static images of products on a grid. Consumers want dynamic, immersive imagery that helps them visualize how a product will look and behave before they purchase it. This is exactly what interactive product visualization does and is why it’s emerged as an important term in the language of modern commerce.

It refers to the process of presenting a product through digital means such as 3D modeling software, computer-generated graphics and photography animation. Showing a product this way allows shoppers to manipulate it, zoom in and out, rotate it to see different angles and even make virtual modifications. Not only does it deliver an engaging, immersive experience, but it also better showcases the product’s aesthetics, features and functions to aid in decision-making. 

Designers and other stakeholders can also use interactive product visualization to support product development. It can provide a 3D representation of a one-dimensional design and enables designers to communicate their vision more effectively, so they can gather feedback and iterate on product design earlier in the process.

Example usage: 

The importance of interactive product visualization lies in its ability to bridge the gap between imagination and reality, facilitating better understanding, decision making and communication of product designs.

To gain insights and explore tangible examples of ways brands use this technology to stay visible, relevant and prominent, read our blog, 5 ingredients for best-in-class commerce.

Legacy Platform

While the industry uses multiple terms to identify commerce solutions developed before the advent of modern commerce technologies and practices, “legacy” seems to be the most popular. Introduced in the 1990’s, these platforms were built specifically to support a single commerce channel — hence the legacy distinction — because, at the time, desktops were the only channel. While many of the biggest names have repackaged these older solutions, they’re still fundamentally outdated. 

Legacy platforms are characterized by their tightly coupled architecture, reliance on traditional on-premise infrastructure and outdated programming languages. As a result, they lack the flexibility, scalability and agility brands need to keep up with the rapidly evolving commerce landscape.

In the world of modern commerce, any platform that doesn’t leverage MACH® technology is considered legacy. While many brands still use these platforms, most struggle with the inflexible, rigid design, which makes it difficult to provide the seamless omnichannel experiences and personalized interactions consumers expect today. Today, brands are migrating from their legacy platforms to modern solutions such as commercetools Composable Commerce which allow them to embrace all the benefits MACH has to offer, such as maximum flexibility, scalability and agility.  

 Example usage:
Companies that run eCommerce on a legacy platform find it difficult to tailor experiences outside of the standardized features provided and, therefore, are limited to differentiating experiences.
Frameworks or platforms? Unveiling the differences for your digital commerce journey

Synonymous usage: 

All-in-one platform

eCommerce suite

Monolith platform

All of these terms are used interchangeably with legacy and mean the same thing. Legacy platforms are considered “all-in-one” because they include everything you need to run eCommerce in one tightly coupled package. Their all-in-one design also led them to be marketed as “eCommerce suites” when they were first introduced. Finally, once brands started to discover that their legacy platform was not built in a way that facilitated change and growth, the term “monolith” emerged as a way to describe the design as a block of indivisible software built as a single atomic unit. 

To learn more about the benefits of migrating to MACH-driven, composable architecture and how to kick off your digital transformation, read our blog, Your 6-Step guide for an eCommerce migration from monolith to microservices.

Anita Temple headshot
Anita Temple
Corporate Journalist, commercetools

Anita J. Temple is the Corporate Journalist at commercetools. She was a fashion editor at Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and W Magazine before launching a career as a freelance writer and creative producer. She has written content and worked on a wide range of marketing projects for companies including Dreamworks, Walmart, Coca-Cola, Verizon, and Adidas.

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