I would like to have customers required to create an account during the checkout process, however having them forced to validate their email before being able to login and finish the checkout adds an unnecessary step. Is it possible to force them to create an account and then have them automatically logged in afterwards and able to finish the checkout without the email validation link part of the process?
I hope that makes sense.
From my understanding Shopify will only send the verification/validation email if the email address being supplied by the customer is already on file in Shopify. This typically happens when a customer has previously signed up for a newsletter on your store (but they didn't register for an actual account). Before Shopify creates the customer account, it wants to make sure that the person creating the account has access to the email address in question, since the existing customer record is technically being converted from a simple newsletter subscriber to a full blown account.
To clarify, the account verification email should not be triggered if the customer placing the order provides a new email address during registration that is not already on file in your store. Instead, Shopify will create the account on the fly (and send the customer the 'Customer account welcome' email) which should allow them to proceed through the checkout process without any unnecessary steps.