VirtueMart began as off shoot of the stand-alone phpShop e-commerce web application. Originally dubbed mambo-phpShop it became the first substantial native e-commerce component for the Mambo CMS system. After the community forked Mambo into Joomla, the developer re-branded mambo-phpShop as VirtueMart, officially supporting the newer Joomla CMS. While current implementations may still function with Mambo CMS, and older editions of mambo-phpShop are still available to download, they are no longer actively supported.
In September 2009 a new team began developing VirtueMart 2. The new version was released in December 2011. In October 2012 the developer team declared the end of life for VirtueMart 1.1 and that VirtueMart 2 is not any longer maintaining joomla 1.5 compatibility.
VirtueMart supports an unlimited number of products and categories, with products able to be assigned to multiple categories. It also permits the sale of downloadable products, and offers a catalog mode where the shopping cart features are turned off. VirtueMart supports multiple prices for a single product, based around shopper groups or a quantity range, and permits the use of a variety of different payment gateways.