Shopify Theme Review: Expanse Theme by Archetype

Shopify Theme Review: Expanse Theme by Archetype

This is a detailed Shopify theme review of the Expanse Theme by Archetype. We review popular Shopify themes as Shopify experts, and as frequent users of Shopify themes. Our honest ratings and reviews help brands and experts make better decisions around theme selection.

Rating of Expense theme
Pros and Cons of Expanse theme

Expanse Theme Overview

Overview of Expanse theme

The Expanse theme by Archetype was first released onto Shopify’s official theme store in April 2021. It’s the 4th theme released by this official Shopify theme developer and Shopify partner, Archetype themes. They describe Expanse theme as a clean and flexible theme, designed for dropship stores, high-volume stores, stores with larger inventories, in-person selling such as physical shops or pop-up markets. 

Expanse theme is positioned primarily for brands in the Food and Drink, Health and Beauty and Home and Garden industries.

The theme ranks really well in all three of these industry categories on the theme ranking section of our website. It also ranks well for these categories Arts and Crafts, Books, Music, and Video, Clothing, Outdoor and Garden, Home and Decor.

As per and BuiltWish – the theme is being used by 5000 Shopify merchants.

About the developer: Archetype Themes

Founded in 2017 by Carson Shold and Paul Pritchard, Archetype Themes is a Canadian-based company which develops premium ecommerce themes that are now used by more than 90,000 Shopify merchants. Impulse being the most popular and Expanse being it’s most recently released. Both co-founders worked at Shopify — Shold as a front-end developer and Pritchard as a designer. They were both part of the team that built the widely popular (and free) themes, Brooklyn and Debut.

In August 2021, Archetype Themes was sold to WeCommerce. The original co-founders moved on to found a Shopify app company at Obsidian apps which has very recently been acquired by Fluorescent Design and rebranded to Flash apps.

Today, the company is headed by its CEO Thomas Kelly, also ex-Shopify. Archetype operates as an independent brand under the WeCommerce umbrella. Archetype may be the leading and most recognized Shopify theme brand.

Archetype’s four themes are among the top rated Shopify themes. They’ve collectively garnered over 1500 customer reviews on Shopify’s theme marketplace, with over 96% being positive. Thomas Kelly has recently started a Youtube channel to help their users understand and make the most of their themes through insightful tutorials in a relatable voice. As far as I know, they are the only Shopify theme company actively sharing user content on social media channels – hopefully again setting the trend for others to follow.

You can connect with Archetype on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter.

Seal of approval

Our Ratings: Expanse Theme

At HeyCarson we use Shopify themes across our client projects. Below is our internal review of the theme across five elements. Pricing, Ease of use, Features, Speed, Customer Support and Reviews.

Pricing: Rating (4.5/5)

Although it’s at the higher end of the price range for Shopify themes, at $320 – there’s not a better deal on the internet for entrepreneurs, outside of Shopify itself, in my opinion.

I think the technological value offered to businesses via a theme is widely underrated, but this is because I have the perspective of someone who built a fully custom shop in 2004 – before the idea of a web theme or template existed. To start a Shopify store with a ready-to-go theme is an advancement that has accelerated the time to launch and has lowered the level of risk for new entrepreneurs to test out fresh ideas with minimal losses in time and money.

Appreciate a $320 premium Shopify theme built by a company like Archetype. 

Features and Ease of Use: Rating (5/5)

The Expanse Shopify theme provides brands with a unique aesthetic they are looking for, and comes with a number of marketing and conversion focused features built-in to save brands time and save on costs of apps for things like the cross-sell feature within the cart that helps brands offer cross-sell/up-sell opportunities within the cart. There are dozens of apps in Shopify’s app store within this category alone. This shows the depth of Expanse featuring offerings.

Before sharing our favourite theme features, here’s their demo store – t does great job at showcasing all the theme features. Remember that you can easily demo Shopify themes on your own store setup to help you make a more informed decision.

Here are the most notable features in our view:

Three built-in styles 

The Expanse Shopify theme comes with the following styles: Contemporary, Modern and Classic. Each one lets you bring out a different look and feel on your storefront.

Powerful image enhancements

Image size correction, multiple product and collection tile styles, and photo breathing room adjustments combine to help you create a consistent, professional look across multiple product lines.

Sales points

Concisely address common pre-purchase questions or showcase brand values right in the cart form with up to 4 quick bullet points and professionally designed icons.

Cart recommendations

Upsell to your customers by suggesting popular products right on the cart, drop-down or page.

Powerful promotional grid designer

Highlight your most important content with exceptionally flexible promotions on your homepage and on your site-wide footer.

Product templates 

Choose from 5 alternate templates or create your own: Cross Selling, Brand Story, Product Landing Page, Gift Card, or Pre-Order.

Product video + MP4, YouTube and Vimeo support

Bring the runway to the screen by showing autoplaying product videos right inline with the rest of your product images. Supports all major video formats for flawless high quality video across your store. We recommend .MP4 or YouTube.

Multiple slideshow types

Split slideshows are great for longer text, smaller images, and product promotions. Hero slideshows beautifully showcase full frame photography. Image slideshows are perfect when you’ve already designed your own banners. Use them with a single slide or as a slideshow, all with separate mobile controls.

Build a multi-category collection filter that lets customers instantly filter by size, price, color, and more.

Shop by brand

Automatically showcase more products from the current product’s vendor with a link to a full collection view, no setup required.

Landing page template 

Create engaging landing pages using the 20+ modular sections with our new “landing page” alternate product template.

Engage and educate your audience with our beautiful blog design with popular post and featured product sidebar widgets as well as prominent tag categories.

Click here to discover the detailed outline of all Expanse theme features.

We’re pretty happy with the functionality and design options in this theme. Not much else to say. It’s as versatile as any other theme but comes with out-of-the-box elements that are friendly to novice theme users. 

Speed: Rating (4/5)

Is Expanse theme fast? Yes, it’s fast. Pages load fast and overall the performance off-the-shelf is very healthy. Site load times will always come down to how it’s setup and populated with content by the user. THe theme doesn’t seem to make top fastest theme lists out there, but keep in mind that there are so many variable and places to test theme/store speed. Do not get too hung up on this. If the theme is listed in Shopify’s theme marketplace, it’s been screened for quality against many benchmarks, speed being one.

We use two common web based tools to check site speed. In the cases below, we used the Expanse Demo Store to gauge speed results. 

  1. GTMetrics Overall score of 87 for desktop.
  2. Google Pagespeed score is 94 for desktop and 50 for mobile.

To learn more and be up to speed with what these scores mean, Ecommexperts have published one of the better detailed guides on the topic.

Customer service, support and documentation: Rating (4.5/5)

Phone support

Not available. 

Email support 

Archetype offers customer service and support via their website contact form here. You can reach out to them with queries and customization requests. In most cases for customization requests they will refer you to one of their preferred partners. 

Their hours of operation and promised response times aren’t indicated on their website.

Social media support

Not available. However there is an active Youtube channel and Twitter account. 

Documentation/Knowledge base

For those who like to find answers to questions on their own, Archetype has also created support documentation in their knowledge base for Expanse theme 

You can navigate through the documentation based on the theme you’re using or planning to use. 

They keep their documentation up-to-date at all times with features added, bugs fixed and other changes made to the themes. Latest release notes can be seen here.

Other ways to get theme support

If you need priority support to set up, upgrade or customize your Expanse theme, reach out to our team of Shopify experts at HeyCarson. We’re trusted by thousands of brands across the globe since 2015 and we’re familiar with Expanse theme inside out. 

Reviews and Testimonials: Rating (4.5/5)

Reviews on Expanse theme

As per the reviews from Shopify merchants on Shopify’s theme marketplace listing, Archetype offers quick response times and pleasant customer service. Their more recent negative review seems to stem from a misunderstanding. They seem to handle these reviews with humility and a bias toward finding a solution. Read more reviews here.

Examples of stores using Expanse theme

1. Lerose

2. TechnoRV


3. Glanzberg


4. Optical Factor


5. FiberOptics


6. Plum Deluxe


Is Expanse Shopify theme developer friendly? 

Here’s what a few top Shopify experts had to say about Expanse theme:

Brent Godkin of Only Growth

‘’Expanse is our go-to for many of the brands we’re working it. The main reason is the established and trust theme developer. It’s very versatile, and does a great job with large catalogs. But you can cover any size of catalog. We love the mega menu and cart drawer functionalities, sub collections, everything is nice and aesthetically pleasing, and they do the little things right’’ Listen to his full perspective here.

Denis Dyli of Uncap

‘’Yes, it’s [Expanse] is extremely dev friendly. I do believe it’s actually very similar to Impulse, just redeveloped for bigger catalogs. We have five projects we are launching with it in the next few weeks. It’s clean, fast, simple yet very composable. We mostly completely reskin shops of our clients, so often you can barely notice its Expanse – here’s an example. We find Expanse to be one of the best.’’

Natasha Stajic of HeyCarson

‘’The Expanse theme is a great choice for online stores with large inventories. This theme offers a number of useful features and functionalities allowing the store owner to easily set up their store for a better conversion rate without installing many third-party apps. From the UI perspective, the theme offers a number of well-designed page templates and section blocks that are easily customizable to achieve a desired design, without the need for custom coding.‘’

Interesting Expanse theme customizations examples  

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to customizations, and Expanse offers a lot of flexibility. But we got the chance to explore different customizations for different brands, across various industries. We’ve outlined just a few of them here:

Restyling add to cart buttons on the collection page
In order to streamline the shopping experience, a health and beauty brand with a large inventory asked us to reorganize/redesign the add to cart button on collection pages so it always shows below the product info to replace the default + sign which was visible only on hover.

Sticky add to cart with variant selector
A brand that sells electronics with long product descriptions came to us with a request to make the add to cart action easier and more accessible to site visitors, especially on mobile. We implemented a simple sticky add to cart button that’s always visible at the bottom of the screen.

Customizable Free Shipping Progress Bar in the cart drawer
We implemented a free shipping progress bar in the cart drawer of a wine retailer. The purpose of the free shipping bar is to visually indicate how far the customer is from receiving free shipping, which tends to increase the average order value.

Special block to display product information taken from metafield values
The same wine brand requested to show additional product information in a more organized way, without having to rely on the standard product description format. We implemented a new block on the product page which displays the information using metafields, in order to make the content unique for each product.

Alternatives to Expanse theme

Brands we’ve worked with who use Expanse, also considered using these Shopify themes:

Final verdict: What do we think about the Expanse theme by Archetype?

As Shopify experts who have their hands on hundreds of stores and Shopify themes every week, we think that Expanse theme is a great choice for stores with large inventories and has shown itself to provide a surplus of value for most brands that come to us as users of the theme.  

We love the flexibility of the theme and the various layouts for each page type, making it easy to create tailored experiences on different stores and brands with little effort and time. 

If you’re in the market for a premium theme and have a large catalog of products to showcase, there’s little risk in giving Expanse a test drive yourself to see if it meets your needs.

Seal of approval

After hours of in-depth research and evaluation, we can confidently recommend this theme by Archetype to our customers and readers!

Need help setting up or customizing the Expanse theme? Get in touch with our team for a free project estimate or consultation.

Other Helpful Resources, Articles and Videos

We’ve curated a list of resources (articles, reviews, and videos from elsewhere on the web) that can help you understand what Expanse theme has to offer:

Explore other Shopify themes by Archetype

Archetype has also created other premium Shopify themes. If you’d like to explore all of them, here are some quick links: 

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